Multifocal contact lenses to reduce the progression of myopia in children

Published on
February 23, 2022

Multifocals are used as a form of myopia management in children. These contact lenses are different from multifocal ones used for older, presbyopic patients. Multifocal contact lenses for children have a correction zone in the center that corrects distance vision, and a treatment zone in the periphery that slows down myopia progression. Multifocal contact lenses for presbyopic patients have a correcting zone which helps with nearsightedness but they don’t have a treatment zone to slow down the progression of myopia.

What are multifocals?

Multifocals can be adapted for prescription glasses or contact lenses. Featuring a unique design that combines multiple prescriptions and focal points for different aspects of vision, the blended lens found in multifocals results in a more harmonious experience. They lack a dividing line that occurs in bifocals.

Why is Myopia Management Important?

Any discussion of myopia management should also cover the incredible importance of slowing down the progression of a child's prescription.
Research has shown that as a child's myopia progresses the incidence of serious eye disease increases dramatically.
When comparing a child with low myopia (-1.00 to -3.00) to a child with high myopia (-6.00 or worse) the rates of disease over their life increase substantially.
A child with high myopia will have the following increased risk of eye disease over their life.

Cataracts:  5 times more likely
Glaucoma: 14 times more likely

Retinal Detachment: 22 times more likely
Myopic Maculopathy: 41 times more likely

Multifocal glasses

Multifocal glasses are also called progressive glasses. Multifocal glasses correct the patient's distance prescription at the top, while the bottom of the glasses has some plus power added to correct the patient's reading prescription. While multifocal glasses can help manage myopia, these lenses are not as effective in slowing the progression of myopia as multifocal contact lenses. Some patients still use them if they don't feel comfortable wearing contact lenses. A multifocal pair of glasses can also be used for patients with binocular vision problems. A child who has trouble focusing up close is given progressive glasses with a little bit of plus and booster at the bottom of glasses so that the child can read without over straining their eyes. Patients who tend to turn their eyes inward naturally may also benefit from progressive glasses, as they help to straighten out their eyes so that they are able to see clearly and remove any double vision they may have.

Because of the substantial risks associated with high myopia, we normally do not recommend multifocal glasses as a means of myopia management. 

What age is ideal for children to wear multifocal contacts?

In general, there is no absolute age at which children should be wearing multifocal contacts. Children's maturity is a greater determinant of their readiness, although the usual age recommendation is approximately 8 years of age.

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