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What Is Myopia Control?

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A lady is holding a small white bottle near to right eye and pouring drops of atropine fro myopia control.

Odds are, you know someone who suffers from myopia. This common visual condition is becoming more common in North America, but most people are unaware of it.

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is affecting an increasing number of children and adolescents. This condition causes the eyeball to be slightly longer than usual from front to back.

Light rays that form images that we see focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it, making distant objects appear blurry and unclear.

Myopia control therapy works by slowing eye growth. This can be controlled with special contact lenses, or atropine eye drops. These control methods, particularly in children, can slow myopia progression and result in a lower refractive error by the end of childhood, making it easier to live with as an adult.

Myopia treatments do more than just correct vision; they also keep your child’s vision from deteriorating and lower the risk of serious eye disease.

Controlling Myopia

There is no single best way to correct myopia. The best myopia management for your child will be determined by their eyes and lifestyle.

Discuss your child’s daily activities with your eye doctor to determine the best treatment options for his or her needs.

Special myopia management contact lenses or eye drops are currently the most effective in slowing progression. Some eye drops or hard contacts function almost like eye braces, they change how the eyes grow.

The ultimate goal of myopia treatment for children is to slow progression. Optometrists hope that by limiting eye growth, your child will avoid the severe complications of high myopia in adulthood.

High myopia can lead to the following complications:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal detachment 
  • Cataracts

Get Regular Eye Exams

It’s not always obvious that your child’s vision is failing. They should have regular eye exams as directed by their eye doctor to determine if their prescription has changed, this is important for myopia control.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child, they may be experiencing myopia:

  • They ask or need to sit at the front of the classroom
  • They appear unaware of objects in the distance
  • Excessive blinking
  • Constantly rubbing eyes
  • Persistent squinting
  • Frequent headaches 
  • Needs to sit close to the television or movie screen

Spend More Time Outside

There’s evidence that kids who spend little time outside are more likely to develop myopia. More time spent outside can help to delay or prevent the onset.

The exact cause is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to how much ambient light the eye gets when playing outdoors versus indoors, and how exposure to a lot of sunlight aids in healthy eye development.

A male eye doctor is examining the eye of a female patient in a light blue collared long-sleeve for her regular eye check-up. The doctor is looking closely at the eye of the patient.


Orthokeratology (ortho-k) is a vision correction tool that involves temporarily changing the shape of the cornea with progressively flatter hard contact lenses.

The lenses used in ortho-k treatments are known as rigid gas permeable contact lenses, or RGPs, and are often referred to as moulds. They are larger than standard lenses and are only worn at night to reshape the eye.

Because of the nightly reshaping, these moulds provide better, crisper vision during the day and are more resistant to deposit buildup. Although the vision benefits are reversible, they can be maintained if the lenses are used as prescribed by your eye doctor.

Because some children’s vision may continue to develop into adulthood, it’s not recommended that they undergo vision correction procedures such as LASIK until their vision has stabilized. That’s why ortho-k is sometimes recommended to correct children’s vision.

Slowing Myopia Progression

Overnight moulds slowed the progression of myopia over a 12 year period, according to a 2017 study of the effect of orthokeratology on myopia progression.

Multifocal Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses, which have traditionally been used on people over 40 to help them see close-up, have also been shown to help control myopia in children.

The soft multifocal contact lenses are shaped like a bullseye and have 2 basic light-focusing regions.

For clear long-distance vision, the centre of the lens corrects nearsightedness and directs light onto the retina. The outer portion of the lens provides additional focusing power to focus stray light rays in front of the retina.

Children who used multifocal contacts had a 50% reduction in myopia progression over 2 years.

Atropine Eye Drops

Atropine eye drops are commonly used to dilate the pupils during a comprehensive eye exam. For myopia control, optometrists can use a lower dose of this medication.

Low-dose atropine dilates the pupils and weakens muscle contractions in the eye, relaxing its focusing mechanisms. While experts are unsure why this affects myopia progression, studies suggest that atropine binds to specific growth receptors in the eyes, blocking rapid growth.

Ask Your Eye Doctor for Help

If you suspect your child has myopia or problems with distance vision, book an appointment with Calgary Optometry Centre and talk to us about the various myopia control methods.

Every child’s eye exam includes a myopia screening, and we work hard to provide the best vision possible for our youngest patients.

Written by Dr. Kent Prete

An active member of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Alberta Association of Optometrists, and the Alberta College of Optometrists, Dr. Prete lives his passion every day when he sees his patients. Dr. Prete has spoken at over 100 professional events over the last almost 20 years. A keen educator and confident doctor, Dr. Prete is nearly as passionate about educating other eye care professionals as he is about caring for and educating his patients!
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