What is it?
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a common eye condition where objects are clear up close, but blurry far away. The number of people with myopia is exploding, with 42% of 12-54 year olds in the USA currently being nearsighted. This is an increase of over 65% in the past 30 years!
This is a problem because, while low amounts of myopia causes blurry vision, higher amounts of myopia increases your risk for serious eye diseases. These include retinal detachments, macular disease, cataracts, and glaucoma to name a few.
As a result, research into slowing myopia progression has increased dramatically. Studies show that increasing myopia is the result of many factors including genetics, more time inside, and extended periods of looking up close.
The solution is Myopia Management. A long-term treatment plan designed to slow the progression of myopia.
How do we slow myopia progression?
- Multifocal Contact Lenses - Specialized Multifocal Soft Contact Lenses can slow myopia progression by about 50%. They are worn daily, similar to regular contact lenses. Any contact lens can have side effects, including eye infections or mild dryness. If proceeding with this option, we will teach your child how to properly insert, remove, and care for his or her contact lenses.
- Atropine Therapy - Atropine eye drops can also slow myopia progression by about 50%. Atropine is a prescription eye drop medication that is taken once a day, for up to 2 years. Atropine can have some side effects, including mild light sensitivity or mild near blur. If proceeding with this treatment option, your child will benefit greatly from photochromic lenses (lenses that turn dark in the sun).
- Orthokeratology - This option involves wearing hard contact lenses overnight to reshape the front of the eye. It requires significantly more time and financial investment than the other treatment methods. If the doctor determines that this is the best option for your child, they will discuss the details of this option with you further.
- Bifocal or Progressive Glasses - This option does not slow the progression of myopia as much as the other treatment options, and is generally only recommended in special circumstances.
Will my insurance cover myopia management?
Because myopia management is a brand new, cutting edge medical treatment for the progression of nearsightedness, medical and vision insurance plans are not yet covering this treatment. However, most insurance companies WILL reimburse/cover some or all of the cost of the contact lenses, or of the atropine eye drops and photochromic glasses lenses upgrade.
How much is it?
The entire first year of myopia management services are packaged into a single fee of $800. Depending on your insurance, there may be copays for the needed materials. These materials typically range from $300-$1040 for the annual supply of contact lenses, or $80-$450 for the annual supply of atropine eye drops and photochromic glasses lenses upgrade. Your child’s regular annual exam will still be necessary (generally covered by your existing vision insurance).
What should we expect?
Myopia management patients should expect to be seen at our clinics at least four additional times throughout the first year. Our doctors will assess the status of your child’s entire binocular vision system, as well as the ongoing health of their eyes. By using cutting edge technology, the dimensions of your child’s eye will be mapped out and plotted over time. By comparing these measurements to a newly developed ocular growth chart, your child’s progress will be closely monitored. Should their myopia progress faster than expected during treatment, expect your child to have additional visits, at no additional charge.
- Multifocal Soft Contact Lens Therapy: Diagnostic contact lenses will be analyzed on your child’s eye to ensure safe and healthy interactions. We will teach your child how to properly insert, remove, and care for his or her contacts. Approximately one week after successfully demonstrating proper care of the lenses, our doctors will see your child for a follow up appointment. Any issues will be addressed at this time. If all is going well, the prescription will be finalized and an annual supply of contacts will be purchased. Typically, your child will be seen again 6 months after starting treatment.
- Atropine Therapy: Atropine drops will be prescribed for home use. Approximately one week after starting the drops, Dr. Nelson will evaluate your child again to insure safe pharmacological interactions with his/her eyes. Typically, they will be evaluated again at 3 and 6 months after starting treatment. *Atropine, at the low concentrations used for myopia management, is off label. It can be purchased through compounding pharmacies, like the Falls Compounding Pharmacy in Snoqualmie.
What happens after year 1?
Our doctors will continue to monitor the health, binocular vision, and dimensions of your child’s eyes, as well as the effectiveness of your child’s myopia treatment. Usually, patients need to be seen less frequently during this phase of treatment. Ongoing years of myopia management services are $450 each year. A follow-up visit 6 months after the annual eye exam is the norm.
Below is an informational document that explains Myopia Management in more detail: