Nearsightedness: What's the Big Deal?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition where the light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina, rather than on the retina, creating a blurred image for far away objects. Objects up close are often seen clearly, so this is how this condition got its name.
Nearsightedness is becoming much more common now than it was several years ago, and the problem has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to https://coopervision.ca/practitioner/myopia-management, in a study of Canadian school children aged 11-13, almost 30% were nearsighted. There are multiple risk factors including family members with nearsightedness, time spent outdoors and the amount of time we are spending on the computer and tablets, often at close working distances.
So every time you or your child goes to the optometrist, the prescription increases each time, and stronger glasses are needed to see clearly. Why should you care? Your child can simply get a new eyeglass or contact lens prescription and they will be able to see well again. WRONG!! Nearsightedness does not come without complications!!!
Who is at risk for Myopia?
There are multiple risk factors for the onset of myopia as well as myopia progression:
-Age 9 or under
-one or both parents are nearsighted
-Lots of time spent on nearwork
-Minimal time spent outdoors
-Size of the eyeball increased from the age expected value (eyeglass prescription out of range for a child’s age)
Why is myopia a problem?
Having myopia puts you or your child at an increased risk for eye disease later in life. In some cases, eye disease caused from myopia can cause blindness. These include:
-Retinal tear or detachment
-myopic maculopathy (myopia induced macular degeneration)
As our eyes continue to become more nearsighted, the eyeball continues to grow larger and larger. The problem with this is that as the eye grows, the retina (the thin layer of tissue that contains the photoreceptors (seeing cells)) gets stretched thinner and thinner to cover a larger eyeball. This can cause an increased risk of vision problems in the future, some with the potential to cause blindness.
According to the information on MyopiaProfile.com, a -1.00 to -3.00 myope has 3X the risk of having a retinal detachment at some point in their lifetime. This risk increases to 9X if you get in the range of -5.00 to -7.00 and as high as 44X more likely if over -7.00!!!!!
This is VERY alarming! But the GOOD NEWS is, there is something you can do to slow down or prevent this progression.
What can I do to slow down the progression of nearsightedness?
Some of the most effective options are prescription eye drops, specialized soft contact lenses, hard lenses called orthokeratology lenses or specialized eyeglass lenses such as the Hoya MiyoSmart. A certain combination of these may be indicated in certain cases. Book a myopia management consultation with one of our optometrists today and ask which option would be best for you or your child.
Once myopia increases, it very rarely (almost never) decreases, so it is extremely important to begin treatment early if the trend of increasing nearsightedness is observed or even in cases where we suspect they may become nearsighted at all.
We look forward to seeing you in our office, and would be happy to discuss all your options, and make specific recommendations that would work best for you or your child.
Further scientifically-based, independent advice on childhood myopia and its management, can be found at myopia profile.
Dr Kelly Enns has received the following certifications
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