by Dr. Kevin Chan, OD, at Treehouse Eyes
Every parent has experienced this: chasing their child around trying to get eye drops in to treat an infection. Many children think eye drops are as terrifying as having flu shots or dentist visits. At Treehouse Eyes, we turn the ‘eye-drop-experience’ into a mini fairytale for children. In particular, one of the modalities we use to treat children with myopia is a topical ophthalmic medication called atropine.
I have recently seen two patients, MC and LC, of the same family. They are energetic 10 and 12 year old boys. It was the first eye exam for MC. He has never worn glasses or contact lenses. He had no significant complaint about his vision in general.
On the other hand, LC started wearing glasses 2 years ago. He had noticed gradual blurry vision with his glasses in school. They said they are both very engaged in computer work 3+ hours daily for at least 2-3 times a week, as are most kids these days.
Their mother noted that they rarely spend much time outdoors. Looking into their family history, both parents are myopic (nearsighted) and have been wearing glasses since age 10, and their mother had LASIK surgery for vision correction 10 years ago. The mother found Treehouse Eyes via an article in Washington Family Magazine. She was very interested and concerned that her children’s vision may get worse over time.
After extensive self-research about myopia and information about viable treatment options for myopia, she felt optimistic and confident about the treatments performed at Treehouse Eyes. After a thorough consultation and comprehensive eye examination, we found that both children have varied degrees of myopia. The younger MC has low myopia, less than -1.00 diopters, while his older brother, LC, has progressing myopia with worsening astigmatism in both eyes.
Given the strong family history of myopia, extensive amount of near work, along with the lack of outdoor time, I initially considered putting them in custom overnight contact lenses to treat their myopia. However, both children were sensitive to touching their eye, so putting a pair of contact lenses on might be a daunting and stressful task both for patients and parents.
After extensive education and discussion with their mother, we both agreed that diluted atropine eye drop treatment would be best for both children since it has been proven effective in slowing down myopia with very few side effects such as light sensitivity or blurry vision at near. (See this article in AAO Journal on the success of atropine.)
Atropine is typically administered as a drop once nightly in both eyes. After three months of atropine treatment, both children have shown no deterioration in vision and the best corrected visual acuity maintains as 20/20+ in each eye.
MC and LC’s mom is very grateful she brought her kids to Treehouse Eyes for consultation, and both MC and LC are satisfied for the treatment result. By slowing or stopping their vision from getting worse, we are also significantly reducing their risk for serious eye diseases in their lifetime.
At Treehouse Eyes, we have several methods to treat myopia in children, each customized to a child’s medical needs but also lifestyle considerations.
We believe so deeply in the power of these new protocols to change your child’s vision health for life, we are offering complementary evaluations to new patient families this Spring. We invite you to make your appointment here.