Supporting and slowing progression of short-sightedness in children

Published 14 Feb 2022

If you wore glasses as a child, there’s a chance your children will need to as well. But unlike in our childhoods, there’s now something we can do to slow the progression of near-sightedness (myopia) in children, which may result in clearer vision and a reduced risk of eye disease.

Technology has come a long way in our lifetimes, and optical technology is no different. There are now ways we can slow the progression of short-sightedness using specialty glasses, contact lenses and eyedrops.

The earlier children are treated with one of these options, the greater the potential benefit for their overall eye health and visual function.

Plus, by treating myopia now, we can lessen the risk of eye conditions in adulthood.

How can a special lens help improve a child’s eyesight?

Previously a child with myopia would be fitted with a single vision lens that helped their eyes to focus.

There are now many options when it comes to correcting myopia. Recent research has seen incredible development, providing new options that aim to correct vision and slow myopia progression simultaneously.

Spectacle lenses, prescription eye drops and contact lenses are some of the available management options and in some cases, patients will use a combination of these to best manage their prescription and visual needs. For example, a child may wear spectacle lenses in the classroom but then change to contact lenses for their weekend sport.

Some of the current myopia treatment options available are:

  • Specifically designed soft contact lenses,
  • Orthokeratology (Ortho K) contact lenses,
  • Specifically designed spectacle lenses and/or
  • Low dose atropine prescription eye drops.

Your optometrist will work with your child and family to better understand their visual needs and find the best corrective option for them.

Contact lenses are commonly fitted in children from 7 years of age however there have been some successful stories where kids even younger have been fitted and worn contact lenses.  

Impacts of not correcting and supporting myopia

This technology didn’t exist in our youth and generally, most of us are coping. But as we age we are at greater risk of eye conditions. People with an optical script of higher than -5 (called high myopia) have increased risk of:

  • Sight threatening retinal damage,
  • Visual impairment
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataract

By slowing the progression of myopia in a child’s youth, we can lessen both the impact of myopia on their vision and the risk of deterioration of their eyesight as an adult.

How can I learn more?