What is Myopia?

Myopia, also known as short-sightedness is a condition where the eye is too long or too powerful, resulting in blurred distance vision. Vision for close objects will be clear within a certain range.

Why do we need to control myopia?

In children, myopia tends to progress as the child grows. This particularly occurs during adolescent years.

Studies have shown that higher levels of myopia can double the risk of serious ocular health problems such as retinal detachment and glaucoma. These can lead to vision loss and even blindness. Higher prescriptions also result in an increased dependency on glasses or contact lenses.

Myopia also impacts a childs well being and development, with 80% of all learning occurring through vision.

What causes myopia onset and progression?

Some key factors can predict the risk of myopia onset and progression:

  1. Age – the younger a child becomes myopic the more quickly they are likely to progress.
  2. Family history – one myopic parent increases risk of myopia by three-fold, while two myopic parents will increase risk by six-fold. Children with two myopic parents have been shown to have the fastest myopic progression rates.
  3. Ethnicity – people of Asian descent tend to show faster myopia progression rates.
  4. Visual environment – less than 90 minutes a day spent outside increases the risk of myopia, especially if combined with more than 3 hours a day spent on near work activities (outside of school time), especially when tasks are closer than 20 cm.


What is Myopia control and what are the options?

Myopia control is a process which uses technologically advanced techniques to slow or reduce the rate of progression of myopia.

The following treatment options have been shown to reduce the progression of myopia.

  1. Orthokeratology

A specially designed hard contact lens that is worn every night to temporarily reshape the cornea to improve vision and slow myopia. No vision correction (glasses or contact lenses) is required during the day.

This method of myopia control has been around since the 1980’s and has been found to be very effective.

Each Ortho K lens has a lifespan of 1-2 years.

  1. Soft contact lenses 

A soft daily disposable contact lens with treatment zones specially designed to slow the progression of myopia and correct vision at the same time. They need to be worn every day to provide the desired effect. A pair of myopia-controlling spectacle lenses is strongly recommended to any soft contact lens wearer for after-hours wear, and to give the eyes a rest from contact lens wear at least one day every week.

This is a newer method of myopia control but has been found to be very effective and is FDA approved.

      3. Myopia control spectacle lenses

Specially designed spectacle lenses correct myopia and control progression. They are particularly beneficial for younger children who cannot tolerate contact lenses or eye drops but need to be worn at least 12 hours per day to be effective.

  1. Atropine Eye drops

A low concentration eye drop used each night to slow the progression of myopia. The drops cause a slight increase in pupil size. Some clients may experience mild light sensitivity or a mild allergic reaction to the preservatives in the drops.

Glasses or contact lenses will still need to be worn as the atropine drops provide no visual correction.


Starting myopia control treatment as early as possible will give your child the best chance at limiting the progression of myopia.

Your optometrist will help by recommending the treatments most suitable for your child. In some cases, a referral may be necessary to an ophthalmologist for a specialist opinion and combined management between your optometrist and your ophthalmologist.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call Nicholls & Associates Optometrists on (09) 479 2316 or email us at info@nichollsoptical.co.nz.


Helpful websites for more information about myopia: