Glasses are normally used for correcting myopia (shortsightedness). They help you to see clearly and function in your everyday activities. For some people, this may be a FASHION accessory and for others they think it is a CRUTCH for their eyes.
It is alarming that childhood myopia can progress very quickly, but there are ways to control its progression – this may be special glasses, contact lenses, eye-drops or eye exercises. In Singapore, the costs of these interventions can be paid through the CDA Account / Baby Bonus Scheme.
Children who are myopic will need to get their eyes checked regularly. Singaporean and Singapore PR are eligible to apply for the Children Myopia Plan covered under the IGARD Group. The plan can be paid through the CDA Account / Baby Bonus Scheme and it covers the cost of regular eye examinations and an unlimited replacement of spectacle lenses if the prescription changes.
We look are THREE types of glasses that are available for controlling myopia:
1. Children Progressive Spectacle Lenses
Progressive Spectacle Lenses can help in reducing the progression of myopia in children if they are predisposed with specific levels of eyestrain, such as accommodative lags, high ocular accommodative convergence and near esophoria. In some instances, they may be contraindicated in some children. Hence, progressive lenses should only be considered for myopia control after a thorough investigation of the child’s vision.
A large clinical trial funded by the American National Eye Institute (NEI) showed that progressive lenses slows down the progression of myopia. Although it is statistically significant in the first year, the effect of treatment is not significant over the next two years of treatment.
2. Children Myovision Spectacle Lenses
Children’s Myovision spectacle lenses are specially designed to combat against Peripheral Retinal Hyperopic Defocus – the technical name of an optical problem faced by most myopic children.
Researchers explains that the defocus is the result of the myopic eye being more ‘prolate’ in shape compared to eyes that do not need glasses. Hence, myopic children have poorer peripheral vision. As the image on the peripheral retina is out-of-focused, it triggers myopia to progress even faster. Researchers have found an increased release of a neurotransmitter which leads to a sequence of events that triggers eye growth.
The lenses will require professional expertise in prescribing and dispensing. It is a breakthrough to help children with escalating degree of myopia. It is manufactured by German lens maker Carl Zeiss.
3. Children Bifocal Spectacle Lenses
Not all bifocal lenses work the same way. Like progressive lenses, they should only be considered for myopia control after a thorough investigation of the child’s vision.
In the 1970-80s, bifocal lenses were used for children to slow down the progression of myopia, but the results from the research was mixed because some children with specific types of eyestrain (called exophoria) were not suitable for such lenses. In some instances, their eyes can drift outwards if bifocal lenses are used inappropriately.
MYOPILUX MAX is a newer development for treating myopic children with exophoria. It is manufactured by Essilor. These lenses incorporate the unique use of prisms in the reading addition portion and it showed promising results in reducing the progression of myopia in children. Children who have been found unsuitable for Progressive Spectacle Lenses can also find this useful.