By 2050 almost 50% of the world will be myopic. That is five billion people! Myopia Awareness Week is about getting people talking about myopia.
What is myopia?
Myopia is an eye condition that causes poor long-distance vision. Myopia is caused by structural irregularities in the eye. Myopia is also known as nearsightedness because myopic people can still see things clearly that are close. In myopic eyes, the eyeball is either longer than normal, or the cornea is too curved, both causing the image to be focused in front of the retina rather than on the retina, causing some images to be blurry
What causes myopia?
While heredity is a factor, the recent increase in myopic people suggests there may also be environmental risk factors. Studies in the US, Asia and other countries show time spent doing close work, such as reading or computer work, and not enough time spent outdoors could play a role in the development of myopia.
How is it treated?
Although corrective lenses (glasses and contact lenses) are the traditional and easiest way to treat myopia, they do not help stop the progression of myopia. Recent research indicates that corrective lenses may, in fact, make myopia worse. Glasses and contact lenses can elongate the length of the eyeball resulting in worsened nearsightedness. The intent of myopia prevention is to stop this lengthening of the eyeball from occurring either through drug therapy (restricting focussing), by specialty multifocal spectacle or soft contact lenses that defocus the image in the periphery (moving it in front of the retina), thus shortening its length and making it either stable or hopefully less nearsighted, or through a contact lens treatment that reshapes the cornea overnight called Orthokeratology.
Are there complications?
Most people with mild to moderate myopia won’t experience any complications. However, high myopia, requiring a lens of -6.00 dioptres or more, does come with a risk of complications. People with high myopia have an increased risk of retinal detachment, cataracts, myopic degeneration and glaucoma, which can all cause vision loss. People with high myopia should ask their optometrist about the warning signs for these conditions, and ensure they have comprehensive eye health checks regularly.
Can myopia be prevented?
As myopia is often hereditary, it cannot be completely prevented; however, new research suggests ways to slow the progression of the condition, especially in children. The condition may be delayed or prevented by spending less time on devices and more time outside, possibly due to increased exposure to sunlight or the need to look into the far distance regularly. While myopia cannot be completely prevented, it can also be treated through the use of specialty corrective lenses (multifocal glasses or contact lenses), Orthokeratology, and drug therapies.
Interested in more information on myopia treatments for you or your child?