Myopic Retinopathy and How to Slow it Down in Your Child - Libertyville Area Moms

“Myopic retinopathy [nearsightedness] is an eye condition that affects over 30% of the U.S. population,” says Dr. Vlada Nakhlis, owner and Optometrist of EyeSee Optometry in Lincolnshire. There are  a lot of physical abnormalities/pathologies that come with it, such as myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment and retinal holes, glaucoma and early cataract formation. In this interview with Dr. Nakhlis, she discusses how this condition is treatable.


What it is myopic retinopathy?

Myopic retinopathy and it’s a condition where the eye stretches, which by definition is myopia (which is a word that basically means “long eye”). From the stretching, there are  a lot of physical abnormalities/pathologies that come with it, such as myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment and retinal holes, glaucoma and early cataract formation.


Who suffers from this?

Over 30% of the population suffers from it regardless of age, Asian population being affected more than others, and it’s growing at an exponential rate to where 50% of the world population is supposed to be affected by  it by 2050.


What is the treatment for it?

There is no treatment for myopia in a sense of eradicating or curing it which is why it’s a problem because it’s an irreversible eye condition which once developed, can only progress and can never get better. The good thing is that if you start preventing it and controlling its progression early, you can slow down its progression and control the amount of myopia the child will develop. With that you can lessen the risk of many serious eye diseases associated with “high myopia”, which is a levels of myopia over -5 Diopters. This is specifically why orthokeratology is so amazing because it’s one of the most effective myopia control Options that we have available at this time. Statistically it’s been shown to have a great effectiveness in slowing down myopia progression by at least 50% in children that have been getting orthokeratology treatment.


How long is treatment?

The length of treatment is indefinite, because it only works while you use it. We usually recommend the kids that display more than -1 Diopter of myopia, to start on it as soon as possible, the earliest age being five years old and continue with it for as long as they can do it. There is no cut off age for it. It’s an ongoing treatment and it works really well without any complications or risks. Granted, it works better on children, in a sense of the treatment effectiveness, but it’s most useful for them not only is it a vision correction but it’s also Myopia control, which is most essential in children while their eyes are still growing.


Still, It is a great useful tool for adults as well that cannot wear any other optical correction or choose not to. I have several adult patients truly enjoying their orthokeratology treatment benefits.


You mentioned that orthokeratology is the treatment for myopic retinopathy… what is it and how long does the treatment last?

Orthokeratology or Ortho-K is also known as overnight vision correction. This involves specialty fitted gas permeable contact lenses for nightwear, which gently reshape your cornea while you sleep, resulting in clear vision the following day.


Treatment is nightly, for about eight hours of sleep. So one must sleep a least 8 hours at night to qualify. Somebody who sleeps less than seven hours may not be the best candidate because the treatment hasn’t had enough time to work. And it last for up to 20 hours the next day. The longer you use ortho K lenses/molds, the longer the effect stays. There are people that can maintain effect for up to a week after just one night wear, as long as the cornea is used to ortho K lenses.


Does insurance work with this condition?

Insurance does not cover this treatment, because it considers it an elective. It recognizes its medical necessity and does have some stipulations towards lenses, but only Vision insurance, not medical insurances, such as VSP or Eyemed. So, we can basically use their contact lens material allowance towards the cost of the ortho K lenses.


Is there a special certification for optometrists in myopathy? If so, what did you do to get certified? How long did it take?

Yes! There is a special certification that is required to be able to fit orthokeratology lenses. The certification process is usually done online initially, followed up by several continuing education courses. Overall spanning total of at least one month of education in addition to your regular doctor of optometry and controlled substance licenses. For each orthokeratology lens you also get a separate certification, because they all fit differently and you can not fit them without being certified and passing the test for it. I also belong to a group called Academy of orthokeratology and myopia control founded by Dr. Herzberg, the biggest guru in orthokeratology in the World. He is a close friend of mine as well as a mentor, so I can say with full certainty that I learned from the best. this group helps keep you up-to-date on many things so we stay ahead of the curve on all things orthokeratology related. They also have meetings a few times a year that keep us up-to-date on education and allows some additional practice.



If you have questions about myopic retinopathy in your child(ren) or yourself, reach out to Dr. Nakhlis and schedule your consultation! Request an appointment by clicking here or call 847-243-3330


This post is sponsored by EyeSee Optometry. Thank you!

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