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Myopia Control Q&A with Dr. Leong

Q: What Can Be Done to Prevent Myopia? By Dr. Leong

boy glasses reading hispanicA recent research study based out of Waterloo, Ontario suggests that the onset of myopia (also known as nearsightedness, or blurred far vision) is starting at an earlier age than previous generations. The prevalence of myopia in Canadian school children aged 11 to 13 years of age is almost 30%. A known risk factor for myopia includes family history (one myopic parent increases the risk of a child being myopic by 152.4%). Other risk factors include extended near work, Asian descent, and not breastfed as an infant.

Current methods of myopia control include:

  1. Spending time outdoors. The Waterloo study results found that the only activity that significantly reduced myopia progression was spending more time outdoors. When children had spent one additional hour outdoors per day, the incidence of myopia was significantly reduced.
  2. Under-correcting the glasses prescription – Research indicates this does NOT work! It actually enhances myopia progression.
  3. Rigid gas permeable lenses – traditional rigid lenses that align to the cornea does NOT prevent myopia progression. However, ortho-keratology is a specialty rigid lens design used for overnight wear to prevent myopia progression and is currently used successfully by some eye doctors for myopia control.
  4. Specialty glasses such as Myovision lenses use a special peripheral lens technology that prevents progression of myopia. Some success has also been observed with this lens design.
  5. Specialty soft multifocal contact lenses for myopia control are being used in other parts of the world and is expected to arrive soon in Canada.
  6. Pharmaceuticals such as low dose atropine (0.01%) is used to prevent accommodation (muscles within the eyes used to focus at near) and prevent myopia progression.

Myopia has more than one cause, so myopia control involves more than one method to prevent progression of myopia.

It is recommended that in general, children limit near tasks to a maximum of two hours/day. This includes time on handheld digital devices, reading, and drawing. Toddlers and infants under age two should have zero screen time. It is important to consider lighting and working distance with such tasks. All ages can benefit from the 20/20/20 rule of thumb, which refers to 20 minutes of near work followed by a break for the eyes to look 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. Taking the time for healthy habits will help towards 20/20 vision for a lifetime.

Thank you for trusting your eyecare with us over the years.  The Foresight Eyecare team follows the government mandate to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  After December 2020 announcements made by the Alberta Government, our clinic is following the revised Infection Prevention and Control policy by the Alberta College of Optometrists.

Patients interested in obtaining eye exam services or eye care products can be seen by appointment only.  Please call ahead, and staff will arrange an appointment time and ask COVID-19 screening questions.  If you have any symptoms of cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath, we ask that you call or e-mail us and do not attend the clinic for your scheduled visit.   Within the clinic, please wear a mask and use the hand sanitizer at reception.  Our clinic complies with the City of Calgary bylaw requiring mask covering over the age of two years old.  For patients who are unable to wear a face covering due to medical reasons, the patient can be scheduled for an appointment at a time when minimal number of other patients are in the clinic such as at the beginning or end of the day to ensure appropriate physical distancing requirements.

We are using disposable disinfectant wipes on all surfaces and devices such as front desk counters, chairs, handles in exam rooms and waiting room.  All eyewear that have been touched by patients are continually being sanitized.   Any toys and magazines are stored at this time.  Examination areas are being sanitized with hospital grade disinfectant.  Debit and credit cards but NO CASH payments will be accepted.

COVID-19 symptoms are not always obvious.  We want to fend off this pandemic and minimize risk to our patients and the Foresight staff as front line health workers.   Contact that is closer than 2 m (6 feet) is to be avoided, with barriers in place when this cannot be avoided. We choose to continue to do our work and cautiously take care of our patients with compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience.   It is a challenging and new experience for many of us, so let‘s support each other and prevent virus spread!  Beyond 2020, our focus is on take care of you and keeping Clean Hands, Clear Heads and Open Hearts.   For more information, please refer to the following web pages or phone Health Link 811.

Drs. Dianna Leong, Anh Bui, Andrew Chan