There are many factors that can lead to myopia. While myopia is largely hereditary there can be genetic variations between parent and child. As with most medical conditions the environment can also play a role in myopia progression. Research currently suggests that myopia is multifactorial and is largely associated with family history, environmental, and/or behavioural factors such as reduced time outdoors and increased time indoors.
There have not yet been any clinical trials looking specifically at the effect of electronic devices on myopia. What we do know is that increased amounts of time indoors, and reduced time spent outdoors is associated with myopia.
As a child grows, the eyes grow as well and myopia will often get worse until the person stops growing around 25 years old. Therefore, the younger the child develops myopia the chances of developing high myopia increases. When the myopia reaches this level, the eye is too long and stretched, and the risk of developing potentially sight-threatening complications increases exponentially into adulthood. The sight-threatening complications include but are not limited to:
Recent research has shown that we can safely and effectively slow the increase in myopia amongst children. These treatments include:
Dual focus/multifocal soft contact lenses (soft lenses worn during the daytime)
Orthokeratology lenses (rigid gas permeable lenses worn overnight)
Low dose atropine, a therapeutic eye drop used nightly
These treatments will not stop the myopia from increasing (as the eye of a child still needs to grow naturally), but will slow the increase in myopia. The average effect of treatment has been shown to be ~ 50% in many studies, however some children will progress more or less than this. It is possible that the strategy used in your child’s eyes, will not slow the rate of progression and another treatment may need to be added.
Slowing myopia is important as high levels of myopia can increase the risk of future sightthreatening complication(s). Its prevalence and severity are dramatically increasing worldwide. Preventing higher myopia will also mean that your child will have reduced dependence on corrective lenses, having to wear thick, heavy glasses, and reduce cosmesis.