Many young people are short-sighted in Singapore. Is your child one of them? Are you disturbed by the quick increase in short-sightedness (myopia)?
How does myopia increase? It has been shown that an increase in near work (reading, writing, computer work) will increase the progress of myopia. This is the reason why children are asked to replace hand held games with outdoor games. But what about home work? The advice would be to rest the eyes, to look far after every half an hour of reading or writing. Even so, many parents will find that the child's myopia will still increase.
Can we stop the increase in myopia?
The following have not been shown to be effective in halting the increase in myopia:
- Wearing glasses of a lower power
- Wearing bifocal glasses (top part to see far, bottom part to focus for near)
Wearing special hard contact lenses at night (orthokeratology) have been shown to slow the increase of myopia by a small amount in some studies and shown not to work in other studies. These lenses have been known to cause side effects such as infection and a permanent change of cornea shape to an irregular shape.
The only strong clinical evidence of a method to help reduce the increase in myopia is to use Atropine eye drops in the eye.
Atropine eye drops
This special eye drop has been in use in children in Singapore since 2000 to treat myopia. Back then, the 1% dose was used. Although very effective, some children had problems with glare in the sun and difficulty of seeing near with their glasses on. In the last few years, there has been a shift towards the use of low dose atropine – 0.01% Atropine.
In a five-year trial of 0.01% Atropine which started in 2006, researchers in Singapore found that this dosage of atropine was effective in slowing myopia progression by about 60% over a two year period with very little side effects.
Our clinic has set up a special program tailored to help children with myopia. An initial check will reveal if your child is suitable for this program. The low dose atropine eye drop is instilled into the eye once per night. There is no pain in using this eye drop and many children get accustomed to it. Side effects are very minimal to nil. The child then comes to our clinic once in a few months to monitor progress.