Exam time for pupils
Don’t worry kids, not that kind of exam. But it is that dreaded time of year for them. Back to school. Even tougher for children suffering from short-sightedness (or Myopia by its other name). The good news is we can help prevent it and treat it. Stuart Dale talks to Kate Kellett at Ivan R Cammack optometrists.
As with all medical conditions, early diagnosis is key to preventing myopic progression. “I can’t stress enough how important it is for a parent to take their young children to an optometrist for a check-up,” says Kate.
“I treat so many parents who are very short sighted and who have lived their young adult life with all the cost and hassle of wearing thick spectacles or contact lenses. Not being able to see without vision correction is a pain.” says Kate.
“The trouble is, these adults could then be subjected to some medical conditions in later life. Conditions such as a detached retina, glaucoma, cataracts, or myopic maculopathy.
“But as an adult and parent, you can at least take the opportunity to help your children nip emerging myopia in the bud. This will prevent all those hassles you had and any future expense associated with treating acute short sightedness,” she adds.
“If we can catch the emergence of myopia at an early stage, we can definitely help the very likely progression to being highly myopic. This can only be good for our children medically, practically and above all socially.
Most young children may not be able to explain that they cannot see properly at longer distances. So symptoms may only become evident when they go to school and struggle to see things like the whiteboard at the front of the class. Children with myopia may complain of headaches, eyestrain and fatigue if they have to focus on something more than a metre away.
For children who are yet to show signs of myopia, the great outdoors it seems really is great. Great for our bodies as well as for our psychological wellbeing. Sunlight – in the right quantities and at acceptable intensities – can supply our skins with important vitamins. What might come as more of a surprise is that the hours that children devote to running, playing or simply sitting outdoors can make a measurable contribution to maintaining their young eyesight.
Recently, researchers from the universities of Bristol and Cardiff published findings that suggested children, aged between eight and nine, who regularly go outdoors to play are approximately half as likely to become short-sighted by the time they reach the age of 15. The study tracked the occurrence of short-sightedness in some 7,000 boys and girls, and the statistics clearly showed thatthose who enjoyed time outside also enjoyed healthier eyesight.
Unfortunately, once a chid is short-sighted the amount of time spent outdoors doesn’t have any real effect on the progression of condition.
“There are no current cures for short-sightedness,” says Kate: “Even laser surgery doesn’t help. Make sure you pick up on the condition as early as possible especially if short-sightedness runs in your family. That means making sure your child is examined by an optometrist in their pre-school years.
“As for treating children with early stage myopia, the aim is to slow down its development.
As soon as the child is able to cope with them, usually 8 years old, specialist contact lenses called ‘Myopia Control lenses’ can be used to change the way that light is focused on the peripheral retina; it is this peripheral light that prompts or delays the growth of the eye. Although they don’t work in all children, they are effective for the majority.
“There are two types of Myopia Control lenses, soft lenses that are worn during the daytime, and rigid lenses that are worn overnight.
In our experience, the overnight rigid lenses are more effective at preventing myopia progression, and are much easier for child and parent to manage because all of the lens care happens at home. This lens is called EyeDream, a form of orthokeratology or Ortho-k., and is worn at night to gently reshape the front of the eye. They are removed in the morning, giving the child good clear vision all day long.
Since Eyedream lenses are only worn at night, there’s no effect on playing sports or going swimming. And much less chance of them getting lost. Perfect for children. There is evidence that Myopia Control lenses not only slow the progression of short-sightedness but also reduce the chances of developing other eye conditions previously mentioned, later in life such as glaucoma and retinal detachment.”
Ivan R Cammack offers a special Eyeplan Myopia Control scheme which, following the initial contact lens fitting, for a monthly fee includes lens care products, replacement lenses, eye examinations and on-going myopia control care appointments.
So, if you are the parent of pre-school children, it might be wise to book an appointment with Ivan R Cammack. Preventative medicine is their vision.
Ivan R Cammack (Thame)
T. 01844 212048
Chinnor (01844) 351564
Wendover (01296) 625892
You can read more articles like this one in the latest edition of Thame Out.