Toronto expert Dr. Edward Chow is giving children new options to potentially avoid myopia, and the associated vision problems that can develop as adults.

By Alexander Frakking, Health Editor

May 30, 2021

Even before COVID-19, the world was silently coping with another pandemic. 

You may have already seen evidence of it: every year, a higher percentage of teenagers need to wear glasses. Those teenagers become adults with glasses, and those adults are more likely to develop serious eye conditions including retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.

The rapid growth of myopia—commonly called nearsightedness—meets the CDC’s definition of “pandemic”, according to American optometrist Dr. Dwight Akerman, Chief Medical Editor or Review of Myopia Management. It’s estimated that an additional 740 million people will develop myopia over the next ten years, and that 49.8 percent of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.

Frequent use of devices like smartphones and tablets is believed to be a contributing factor in myopic progression

Here is where parents come in. The changes in the eye which lead to myopia often begin in pre-teen years, and while there is no “cure”, there are now proven methods of limiting or even arresting the onset of myopia. In practical terms, this means children may not develop such a “strong” prescription, or may avoid needing glasses altogether. It also means a reduced chance of developing serious vision problems later in life.

One effective myopia treatment called ortho-k has been quietly growing in popularity for the past twenty years. And as with dental braces, ortho-k is best done at a young age rather than as an adult.

Toronto is home to a pioneer of ortho-k science. Optometrist Dr. Edward Chow opened his Toronto practice in 1973, and has made significant contributions to the science and practice of ortho-k. In 2018 Dr. Chow founded the Global Council on Myopia Management, with the goal of preventing vision loss through myopia education.

Dr. Edward Chow is a Toronto optometrist and ortho-k pioneer

It’s perhaps fitting that Dr. Chow opened his new Myopia Clinic in the year 2020. The clinic specializes in ortho-k and related “myopia control” services for both children and adults:

People who find contact lenses uncomfortable because of dryness or irritation may benefit from [ortho-k]. Those who engage in sports and have active lifestyles may also enjoy the freedom that Ortho-k brings. This procedure is particularly pertinent to high myopes (people with nearsightedness) and to children with progressive myopia and astigmatism. (Source: choweyeinstitute.ca)

As part of his mission to educate the public on myopia and ortho-k, Dr. Chow welcomes all inquires on childhood or adult myopia, and how ortho-k might help.

This article is opinion and not a substitute for professional advice. Disclaimer

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Dr. Edward Chow, O.D., F.I.A.O., FAAOMC.

Dr. Chow received his Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo and has been in practice for 47 years. He is the first Canadian optometrist to engage in the practice of orthokeratology. As a renowned expert in myopia control and specialty contact lens fittings, Dr. Chow frequently lectures globally to present his extensive research on orthokeratology and myopia control. He helps young patients using ortho-k and other myopia control methods from his eye institute in Markham, Ontario.

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