This year, IU School of Optometry’s Assistant Clinical Professor Dr. Katie Connolly launched the Myopia Management Clinic at the school’s Atwater Eye Care Center (AECC). Dr. Connolly, who is the chief of pediatric and binocular vision services at AECC, is leading the way in myopia management in children.
What is myopia?
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a condition in which a person can see objects that are close up, but objects farther away appear blurry. This occurs because an eye with myopia is longer than a normal eye, so the light rays entering the eye cannot focus directly on the back of the eye, therefore causing blurred vision.
Why is myopia on the rise?
Currently, about 35% of Americans are myopic, but by 2050, 58% of Americans are predicted to be myopic. But, why? Studies show the rapid change is a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
A child with a myopic parent is three times more likely to be myopic. Parents can’t change their genes, but they can help when it comes to environmental factors.
“Myopia has been linked to children who spend more time reading and working on handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones and less time spent outdoors,” says Dr. Connolly. “Since COVID hit, schools have had to move their learning environment online. There are concerns we will see more myopia cases due to even more time spent in front of screen for school work.”
What is the prognosis?
Unfortunately, the condition is progressive, but myopia can be managed. Once a child is diagnosed with myopia, it continues to worsen with age. As a child grows, the eyes also grow. This elongation of the eyes causes vital structures to be stretched.
“Myopic eyes are at a higher risk to develop eye diseases such as retinal detachment and glaucoma,” explains Dr. Connolly. “The higher the prescription, the higher the risk of these diseases. That is why it is so important to keep the myopia as low as possible.”
How to manage myopia
In the last 10 to 20 years, research has been ramped up regarding myopia and has found that the progress of the condition can be slowed with appropriate management. At the Atwater Eye Care Center, Dr. Connolly utilizes evidence-based options such as myopia management soft contact lenses, orthokeratology, and low-dose atropine eye drops. She also looks forward to utilizing new treatments as they are developed and is looking forward to a glasses option that is currently undergoing clinical trials.
If you have a child diagnosed with myopia, ask your optometrist for a referral to the Myopia Management Clinic with either Dr. Connolly or the Pediatric Resident. She will conduct a myopia management evaluation, which is a comprehensive assessment of risk and then initiate appropriate long-term myopia management solutions. Once enrolled in myopia management, children will be monitored closely for progression and will see the myopia management clinic every six months on average. Children will continue to see their regular optometrist for their yearly routine comprehensive exam.
Questions and to schedule an appointment
Questions about myopia or myopia management? Contact Dr. Katie Connolly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to schedule an appointment? Have your optometrist contact the Myopia Management Clinic at the Atwater Eye Care Center at 812-855-8436 to make a referral.