A lot of parents always ask what or why is their child's glasses getting thicker/stronger. The answer is pretty simple when they are nearsighted (myopic) it is when the eye is getting longer. When someone is farsighted and it gets stronger it little more complicated and is most likely a story for another day.
You can see in the image on the 1st photo how light is focused to a point before the retina that is nearsighted (myopia) and the second photo is what glasses do to fix the problem in putting glasses in front of the eye so the image focuses later. When you are nearsighted it means your eye is too strong and can't see in the distance. This is why when you put on a pair of readers you can see up close but can't see in the distance because it is mimicking someone that is nearsightedness (myopia). It is also why their contact lenses/glasses prescription starts out with a minus (-). Great now we know the problem that causes nearsightedness what can we do to help it. You are in luck there multiple things that have been shown to help slow down the progression of nearsightedness in children. One of the simplest things is to just avoid doing near work as much as possible. I know a lot easier said than done especially with online learning and everything we do seeming like it we need to be looking at a phone, tablet, or a computer to get anything done in the real world. Other things that have been shown to help are playing outside, so yes that old wise tales our parents have been telling us for years is backed up by scientific papers. Now we can talk about what eye doctors can do to help. One of the options is doing drops one drop of Atropine 0.05% has been shown to decrease nearsightedness by anywhere from 40% to 60% in a two-year study. The biggest one right now is Ortho-k, Misight, and Naturalvue these are all contact lens options. Misight is was the 1st FDA-approved contact lens for specifically myopia (nearsightedness) control that has been shown to decrease the progression by 59% in the 6-year study. Ortho-k (look under Speciality contacts to learn more about these amazing lenses) there is a specific ortho-k that has also been FDA-approved for myopia (nearsightedness) control and has similar results. Naturalvue contact lens just came out with its own 6-year study in January of 2022. All these studies were all done on 8 years old or older. Hoya and Zeiss are also coming out with myopia control glasses also that range from 30% to 60% in a 2 to 4-year study. These glasses options are coming out soon in the United States!
Let give some examples of normal myopia progression and show how these numbers discussed above can help. If I have a patient that is -1.00 diopters at 8 years old this person at 18 years if they only changed by the average amount they would be -6.00. If we decrease the progression by 50% at the age of 18 years old the glasses prescription would be -3.50. That number might not sound amazing that going from useable vision without glasses to unusable vision without glasses. If that doesn't sound like enough their other health reason why having less of glasses prescriptions is important. Diseases like early cataract increase from 3 times to 5 times more likely, glaucoma increase from 3 times to 14 times more likely, retinal detachment increases from 9 times to 22 times more likely, and lastly Myopic Maculopathy a disease that similar to macular degeneration where it affects your central vision increases the risk form 10 times to 41 times more likely, that just the difference from -3.50 to -6.00. You are not just decreasing the glasses thickness or just useable vision without glasses you are setting them on a journey to preserve their vision for the rest of their life. One last note after Lasik, PRK, SMILE, or PIOL none of these decrease the risk factor of these diseases.
Right now we have a lot of options to manage something that before we use to just watch children's glasses prescription getting stronger, getting thicker glasses, and increasing risk factors for multiple different diseases.