HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J.—Dr. Nicholas Despotidis, a partner with Eyecare Professionals, has invested considerable time and resources over the past two decades to become one of the leading practitioners of myopia management. During this time, Despotidis has written two books and developed a TED talk on the myopia topic, while also conducting annual workshops on practice management techniques.

He first became involved with myopia management when one of his two sons developed myopia, which was “well before it was in vogue,” he noted.

In optometry school, students are often taught that myopia is genetic, he noted, but his children began developing myopia when they were in second grade. “This didn’t make any sense because my wife and I didn’t wear glasses until much later in life,” he said.

In 1999, he fit his oldest son with ortho-k lenses even though they weren’t FDA approved for slowing myopia and even though the evidence supporting ortho-k treatment at that time was anecdotal. “This just set me on a career-long path [once] I noticed that this helped stabilize my children’s eyesight,” he said.

When the research became public that ortho-k lens treatment was beneficial to slowing myopia progression, Despotidis said he was “already professionally on that bandwagon.”

Despotidis is known as a pioneer in the use of the ortho-k corneal reshaping contact lenses, which are used to slow down or prevent deterioration in the eyesight of children and young adults. He’s the lead author of the book, “My Children Are Nearsighted Too.”

Doctors in the practice (including three of the five ODs who are seeing patients) see myopia management patients four days each week. Most of the patients are children already wearing ortho-k lenses, and most parents want to come in for their children’s eyecare visits after school.

Despotidis said he is not convinced yet that there is a majority of U.S. parents who are aware of the ongoing myopia epidemic.

“Even though there is a myopia epidemic, it doesn’t mean that every parent is interested or concerned about their children’s progressive myopia,” he explained. “This is something that I liken to the obesity epidemic. As parents, we know our kids are heavier probably than they should be, and they may not be eating as nutritionally or maybe are not as active as they should be. But this doesn’t mean that we’re all doing something about it. It’s the same thing with myopia.”