In part two of “Can We Cure Nearsightedness” we went over ways to control the progression of nearsightedness by spending more time outdoors and getting more exposure to daylight, as well as, reducing the amount a patient accommodates or focuses by practicing a safe Harmon distance. As a reminder, the Harmon distance is the distance from the eyes to the patient’s elbow while the fist is on the chin. The Harmon distance is best utilized in conjunction with the 20/20/20 rule, which relaxes the accommodative or focusing system by looking 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. In addition to spending time outdoors, using the Harmon distance, and practicing the 20/20/20 rule, specialty soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses and diluted Atropine eye drops can also slow the progression of myopia.

As previously discussed, axial length, which is the length of the eye from front to back, is directly correlated with nearsightedness and its progression. The longer the eye the more nearsighted a person will be.  Recent research has demonstrated that eye growth or axial length is regulated by the peripheral retina.  Current standard prescription methods; soft contact lens, hard contact lens and glasses, primarily produce a clear focus on the central retina (macula) resulting in crisp clear distance vision.  It is now believed however, that because the peripheral retina under these circumstances is not as stimulated with a clear focus, this scenario triggers an increase in eye growth or axial length.

To combat this, Cooper Vision developed the first FDA approved soft contact lenses called MiSight, to slow the progression of myopia.  This lens is a daily disposable lens that works by bringing the image from behind the peripheral retina directly onto the peripheral retina decreasing the stimulus for the eye to become longer.  Studies show this soft lens design can reduce nearsighted progression by 40-55%.

Another contact lens fitting method, orthokeratology, uses hard contact lenses to both reshape the cornea reducing nearsightedness as well as, reduces the shift in nearsightedness secondary to peripheral retinal defocus and increased axial length as described above.  Orthokeratology requires sleeping in hard contact lenses at night while being contact lens free during the day.  It is important to note that corneal reshaping requires more visits in order to get the right fit and typically, it takes a few days or weeks for vision to remain clear enough to function without correction during the day.  Orthokeratology can reduce myopia progression on average by about 50%.  It is important to know this method requires long-term contact lens wear for maintenance.

Next week in Part IV of Can We Cure Nearsightedness, we will discuss diluted Atropine eye drops.  If you think someone in your family would be a good candidate for myopia control, please call our office today at 405-372-1715.  If you missed Part I or Part II of Can we Cure Nearsightedness, we invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and afterwards message us on Facebook or Instagram at Cockrell Eyecare Center!

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