Myopia is a condition of short-sightedness or near-sightedness that is a refractive error in your eye that impacts your ability to see faraway objects. If you have myopia, you usually can clearly see objects less than 50 centimetres away. Myopia occurs when the axial length of your eye (distance from the front to the back of eye) is too elongated or the optical power of your cornea (outer transparent thin layer covering the front of the eye) or lens (responsible for the focusing mechanism of the eye) is too high. With the mismatch of your eye and its optical components, incoming light rays focus in front of the retina, leading to blurry distance vision. While eyeglasses and contact lenses can be a temporary measure to reinstate or provide clear distant vision, they cannot slow down the development of myopia. Here are some strategies of treating myopia without glasses or contact lenses that you should know.
What then, are alternative myopia treatments without glasses or contact lenses?
Atropine eye drops
While atropine is an FDA-approved treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye), your eye care professional may prescribe it to slow down the progression of myopia.
3 clinical trials reveal that low-dose atropine drops can restrain the development of myopia without major side effects. If these trials are effective and the FDA approves the drops for myopia, many children with myopia can gain access to this treatment.
Bear in mind that low-dose atropine drops have to be used daily for years to continue restraining the development of myopia. If these eye drops are not administered regularly, myopia could return. Atropine drops cannot be stopped suddenly and have to be tapered, once stabilization of myopia is noted by the eye care professional.
Although these eye drops do not have the same risk of infection as contact lenses, they do have downsides. For example, these drops must be prepared by compounding pharmacies and can lead to blurred vision, light sensitivity, larger pupils and eye itchiness.
To address myopia, lasers can be used by your eye doctor to reshape your cornea in order for incoming light rays to be focused onto the retina for clear vision. Some kinds of refractive surgeries include laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).
LASIK is the most prevalent refractive surgery and entails creating a thin flap on the surface of your cornea. Your doctor would then use a laser to remove the exact amount of tissue from the inner layers of your cornea to alter its shape for clear vision. Your doctor places the flap back into its original position to heal.
In PRK, lasers remove a thin layer of tissue from the surface of your cornea instead in order to flatten its shape, which helps to refocus incoming light rays onto your retina. Note that refractive surgeries are not typically performed unless you are an adult and only when your myopia has stabilised for at least a year. It is also worth noting that you should discuss with your eye health professional first before deciding on refractive surgery as there may be side effects of LASIK and other refractive surgeries.
It is important to note that controlling myopia is a multi-faceted approach and with guidance from research, there is an increasing trend for eye care professionals to use two strategies in combination to achieve the best results.
Keen to learn more about your eye health, the available eye treatment options, and if you’re suited for any of the strategies of treating myopia without glasses highlighted in this article? Schedule an eye exam today via planoEyecheck!
American Academy of Ophthalmology. 2021. Four Alternatives to Eyeglasses for Children with Myopia. [online] Available at: <https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/misight-orthok-atropine-myopia-nearsighted-child> [Accessed 27 December 2021].