by Kevin Chan, OD, MS, FAAO

How often do your children break their glasses while playing sports? Do they complain about their vision or feel uncomfortable wearing bulky glasses?

These are the common concerns that I hear from parents about their children’s vision. An annual eye exam and new pair of glasses is important and has become a routine, but prescribing stronger glasses each year does not ‘fix’ children’s deteriorating eyesight. What’s worse, is myopia progression significantly increases the risk of myopia-related eye diseases, such as retinal detachment and glaucoma.

Fortunately, through new, proven treatments we can now treat children to slow or stop their vision from getting worse, and in many instances allow them to be free of glasses during the day. Below I relate a case study from a child we recently started treating at Treehouse Eyes.

Meet the Patient

“AK” is an 8-year-old 3rd grader who’s been wearing glasses for a few years. Her mother was deeply concerned about whether her daughter would become more nearsighted as she grows up. As we reviewed her family history, we saw that both parents had myopia since age 11 to 12, and have been wearing glasses full-time since then.

AK likes playing basketball, swimming, and ballet dancing. She’s also an avid reader, claiming to finish 4-5 fiction novels in a week! However, her glasses were inconvenient when playing sports, and she said timidly that she ‘feels a bit different in her appearance’ compared to her classmates in school because she wears the same pair of thick glasses everywhere. Listening to our young patient’s experience, I connected deeply with her story –  I felt shyness, awkward and frustrated with glasses when I was her age.

Examination, Diagnosis and Consultation

After a comprehensive eye examination, we found that AK has moderate myopia and astigmatism with progression in both eyes since a year ago. Her old glasses no longer enabled her to have good ‘20/20’ vision. Given the strong family history of myopia, the progression of her myopia and the considerable amount of near work (all those novels) and indoor activities we assessed that AK’s myopia would continue to worsen if it remained untreated. We discussed myopia control treatment options with AK and her parents, and agreed orthokeratology as the primary modality of controlling the progression of myopia.

Myopia Control Treatment Plan

Orthokeratology, also commonly known as ‘ortho-K’, is a non-invasive technology where customized contact lenses are used to temporarily reshape the cornea (front surface of the eye) through continuous overnight wear. Vision gradually improves over time and patients can see well with little dependence of glasses or conventional contact lenses during waking hours. Recent research has also found that the customized optical lenses used in ortho-K treatment offer a long-term benefit of controlling the eyeballs from further elongation, thereby keeping myopia like AK’s from getting worse. And, since high myopia greatly increases the risk of serious eye diseases like glaucoma and detached retinas, ortho-K serves to protect against future eye problems. AK was especially encouraged to learn that ortho-K is particularly popular among athletes and people active in activities in which glasses can be a hindrance or unsafe.

A week after our initial examination, AK returned to our office for contact lens fitting and training. Like many first-time contact lens wearers, AK was initially timid about touching her eyes. Yet, after several attempts and proper training for her and her mother, AK swiftly overcame her fear and is now fully managing the daily handling of her ortho-K contact lenses.

Patient Results

Ever since AK has started wearing the custom contact lenses nightly, her unaided vision during the daytime has continued to improve at each visit. AK’s excited grin seems to grow with each visit since she’s now able to see everything clearly without her heavy, bulky glasses!

Her mom indicated her deep appreciation for how our Treehouse Eyes treatment has transformed her daughter’s vision, and her life and attitude as well. Since her treatment started, AK has become more sociable and active in school. She told us of AK’s increased confidence from being freed of the worrisome limitations that came with wearing glasses.

One of the greatest satisfactions as an eye doctor, particularly with young patients, is that we can actually make a remarkable difference for their vision at a young age. The impact made by advanced myopia control interventions has been tremendously remarkable for halting myopia progression. At Treehouse Eyes, we strive to achieve a goal, and the ONLY one goal — to give children better vision for life! Please feel free to contact us for a consultation and see how we can help your child.