Dr. Alice Mann, an optometrist of Focal Point Optical in Garden City Park is offering a solution for children who have myopia that has never been offered in her 32 years of serving the community.
Myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness, is the inability to see objects clearly at a distance. Myopia typically occurs during childhood when the eyeballs themselves are growing, which means the distance between the front of the eye and the retina in the back of the eye becomes longer.
Myopia leads to blurry vision due to the light rays focusing at a point in front of the retina rather than directly on the surface. The condition can worsen over time or if the appropriate interventions are delayed.
Mann said the number of people with myopia has changed from 25 percent in 1970 to 42 percent in 2020. Myopia, Mann said, can lead to an increased risk of retinal detachment, glaucoma, myopic maculopathy, maculate degeneration, and early onset cataracts.
To combat this, Focal Point Optical is offering specialized contact lenses, called MiSight soft lenses, for children who suffer from myopia. Mann said the lens is targeted to work for children ages 8-14.
“The lens is a therapeutic type of self contact lens, with a visual zone in the center and a treatment zone in the periphery,” Mann said. “It is the first and only FDA approved lens for myopia control.”
Mann said she became certified to use the MiSight lenses during the coronavirus pandemic with a series of online courses. Focal Point started fitting them towards the end of the summer, Mann said.
“We’re trying to make people more aware of this,” she said. “It’s very very new and Coopervision, the company who created the lenses, has a consumer awareness program about the existence of these lenses. Until now, no one really knew how to treat this.”
Mann said a study was conducted on the effectiveness of the lens on children.
According to Mann, the study showed that children who wore the lens have a 59-percent reduction in myopia compared to a placebo group.
Studies also showed that a child with one parent who has myopia is 50-percent more likely to have it than not, 75-percent more if both parents have myopia, and still 25-percent at risk to get it if neither parent has it, Mann said.
“I’m very encouraged by the three-year study,” Mann said. “It has showed that even children that switched from one lens to this one have good results. The lens itself is very safe, and there have been virtually no issues in terms of infections or irritations. It can only be a benefit to someone. It is a life-changing treatment to people who are bound to become nearsighted.”
Mann said she normally wouldn’t feel fully confident prescribing contact lenses for eight-year-olds, but the results from patients have been very positive. Mann also said the lenses can result in heightened peripheral vision, better self-esteem, and makes them more ideal candidates for Lasik surgery later on.
“Aside from parental support, the child has to be able to handle the lens,” Mann said. “They have to fit into a certain category, they can’t have a lot of astigmatisms, since it’s not made for that.”
As far as general recommendations go, Mann said people should generally follow the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes while looking at a computer or television screen, look at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
“The eyes get stuck in this close focus looking at a screen,” Mann said.
For more information on the lenses or to schedule an appointment, people are encouraged to call Focal Point Optical at 516-746-3836 and visit their office at 2453 Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park.