What is Short-Sightedness (or Myopia) ?
Short-sightedness, or myopia, is a condition where the eyeball is too long, causing the image of distant objects to fall infront of the retina. The onset of myopia is usually in childhood or adolescence and this usually steadily worsens until the patient is somewhere in their 20s. Myopia is becoming a more common condition, and it is estimated that in Europe some 30% of children will become short-sighted.
As short-sightedness gets worse, it leads not only to a requirement for thicker glasses or contact lenses, but to an increased risk of eye diseases such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and certain forms of macula degeneration.
Stopping myopia getting worse
In the past, several methods have been tried to prevent the further lengthening of the eye and the associated increase in myopia. For example under-correcting myopia (prescribing weaker spectacles than are indicated), using bifocals for reading purposes and limiting the total amount of closework that is undertaken. However many of these methods have been shown to have no effect, or in some cases actually make things worse.
Recent studies have concluded that a technique known as Ortho-Keratology can slow the rate at which the eye elongates, suggesting that the treatment can slow the progression of myopia to a certain extent. A three year study showed an average increase in myopia of just 0.13 Dioptres for children wearing Ortho-Keratology lenses, compared to an average increase of 1.03 Dioptres without. More importantly, they also concluded that wearing Ortho-Keratology lenses was comparable to soft contact lens wear in terms of efficacy and safety.