Most infants (according to different sources – up to 80%) are born farsighted (with a weak near vision and a sharp distant vision) due to a short ocular anterior-posterior axis (16–18 mm). As an infant grows and his eye bulb develops respectively, its hypermetropia goes down and occasionally it may develop in some cases into myopia.
Congenital myopia (infantile myopia)
Congenital myopia can be associated with prematurity either caused genetically or provoked by any pathologic processes. It should be pointed out in most cases congenital myopia is characterized by slight fundus changes.
As a rule, congenital myopia remains quite stable but occasionally it can progress. Undoubtedly, children with congenital myopia need an ophthalmic care in combination with constant dynamic supervision. It is essential to prescribe optical vision correction with further prophylactic measures to prevent amblyopia as early as possible.
Juvenile onset myopia
Nearsightedness (myopia) is a condition that prevents children from clearly seeing objects located at a far distance. This happens when parallel rays of light coming from the objects at a far distance are focused in front of the retina and not on the retina. Consequently, a child’s vision becomes less acute. In many cases, this deals with an increased ocular anterior-posterior axial length. As a result of a prolate shape of the eye, a wrong light refraction occurs and primarily distant vision becomes less acute.
Ophthalmologists classify myopia into light (up to 3.0 D), medium (from 3.25 D up to 6.0 D) and high (more than 6.0 D). High myopia can reach considerable diopters: 15.0, 20.0, 30.0 D and higher.
Myopic children need glasses to see well at a far distance and in many cases even at a close distance (if myopia exceeds 5–6 diopters). Unfortunately, glasses cannot provide excellent vision due to dystrophic and other changes in the myopic eye layers.
Why do children become myopic? There are different causes of myopia, including genetic factor, a weakened sclera, primary weakness of accommodation, continuous work at a short distance (sitting at a computer or TV screen), external environment, neglected visual hygiene, weakened organism as a result of improper diet, excessive fatigue, and various disorders. However, in most cases myopia is caused by the eye bulb shape alteration (increase in anterior-posterior axial length)
Treatment for myopia in children
There are numerous means and methods applied for myopia treatment. First of all, treatment for myopia in children is aimed at either stopping or slowing down its further advance and preventing its complications - and not at elimination or decrease in the degree of myopia.
A laudable course of myopia in children and teenagers is associated with a vision-rate loss of no faster than 0.5 D per year. In this case, conservative treatment methods are used. Patients are then encouraged to wear glasses or contact lenses so as to give their eyes more time to relax, to do eye exercises, to have plenty of sleep and a healthy diet as well as to practice good visual hygiene.
The Excimer KIDS clinics offers a special Myopia Treatment School program: We perform a diagnostic testing, and based on it, we chose the most suitable contact correction technique for a child, then applying various therapeutic solutions. Moreover, we built a program of individual home training and explain how to perform home-based visual testing to parents. Besides, the doctor monitors current changes and modifies the treatment scheme if necessary.
Excimer KIDS applies a whole range of modern myopia treatment facilities. Both diagnostic testing and therapy are applied with combination of special game techniques. We use a broad range of such therapeutic solutions as laser therapy, ultrasonic and infrared laser therapy, laser stimulation, vacuum massage, magnetic therapy, electric stimulation. Their effectiveness is acknowledged both in Russia and internationally.
Infrared laser therapy
Short range infrared rays provoke a better nutrition of the eye tissues and relieve an accommodation spasm, one of the main myopia triggers. The infrared laser therapy equipment provides 'physiological massage' for the ciliary muscle responsible for a normal accommodation.
Vacuum massage relies on vacuum fluctuation as a therapeutic factor. This procedure significantly improves eye hydrodynamics, blood circulation and, hence, the ciliary muscle functions.
We use laser therapy to improve stereoscopic vision and accommodation functions. Laser radiation is supplied onto a screen, fixed 8–10 cm away from a patient's eye. A therapeutic effect of the laser procedure deals with observing changes in volumes and structures of image on the screen, thus stimulating retinal receptor (nerve) cells.
This is stimulation through proportioned electric current of low intensity. It contributes to improving optic nerve impulse conductivity. This procedure is absolutely painless.
Furthermore, ophthalmologic Excimer KIDS clinic treats myopia using Abliokor equipment developed by leading specialists of the Brain Institute. The effect of the Abliokor treatment is based on computer-assisted video autotraining techniques. While a child is watching a cartoon, the machine collects data on the child's ocular function with its detectors, simultaneously recording brain encephalogram. However, the image on the screen appears only when the child demonstrates proper vision and disappears as soon as the child's vision loses acuity. Thus, the device makes the child's brain subconsciously reduce the periods of low-contrast vision. This approach helps optimize the work of visual cortical neurons and significantly improves the vision.
Therapeutic program is made individually for every child based on the age category, health status and a general mental state. It is highly important to seriously observe the therapeutic treatment without any failures to visit compulsory testing and procedures prescribed by the doctor-in-charge. Besides addressing a health problem, this approach ensures that this problem will not re-emerge when the child grows up.
Surgical interference is performed only if myopia increases at a rate exceeding 1.0 D per year, thus excluding possibility of normal eyesight development as well as in case of complications – retinal dystrophy locus. In these cases, scleroplasty is used to strengthen the posterior segment of the eye sclera and to activate eye layer metabolism.
Excimer KIDS performs eye surgeries in the gentlest manner, on the highest possible level, using equipment and consumable materials, corresponding to high standards of contemporary medicine. Within rehabilitation period, a child is closely monitored by a doctor. The Excimer Kids ophthalmic surgeons have many years of experience in scleral reinforcement surgery.
The number of myopic children varies significantly around the world and often even inside one and the same country. Across Russia, myopia is identified in 2.3%–13.8% of school pupils. This rate goes up to 3.5%–32.2% in school graduates. At the age of 10–12 years, myopia reaches its peak, although recently there has been a significant increase in myopic children at primary schools.
Experts report an increase in the number of myopic people in the northern latitudes in comparison with the southern ones and less expansion of myopia among rural children in comparison with urban ones. This may become due to different light regimes, diet, time spent in the fresh air, the degree of visual strain, sport activities, etc.
How do I know that my child is myopic?
As is known, many disorders can be treated more effectively at early stages. The same is true for myopia. Your child cannot complain to you about his visual problems since he does not know the difference between ‘weak eyesight’ and ‘clear eyesight’. Therefore, if you notice that your child tends to get tired soon when reading, bends low over a book or a copybook, keeps complaining of headaches, blinks often or ribs the eyes with his fists, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor! Please remember that only a specialist can diagnose your child’s eye problem in time and prescribe the necessary treatment!
How to prevent bad visual habits
Furthermore, parents should do their best to prevent their children from developing bad visual habits. You should teach them to sit properly at their desks, to make sure that the light falls on their books or copybooks evenly while they are working, keeping their heads and faces in the shade. It is better to use a desk lamp in combination with a general light. This is particularly important at night-time. Moreover, it is essential to prevent your children from bending too low over the objects while studying. The appropriate distance for visual activity is 30–35 cm. It is recommended to remove all gleaming and reflecting surface out of your child’s sight during his work. The bad habit of reading in a lying down position can also be one of the myopia triggers. It is necessary to take breaks each 30–35 minutes (20–25 minutes for primary school students) of working at a desk table and have a snack, do eye exercises, warm up or simply relax.