What is myopia?
Myopia or shortsight, occurs when the eye focuses light too quickly resulting in clear near vision but distance blur. This usually occurs when the eyeball is too long. At birth the eye tends to beshort, making us longsighted. This gradually reduces as the eyeball grows to normal length. However, for some children, the eyeball continues to grow and myopia develops. This may also occur in teenage years, or the early twenties.
Risk factors of myopia and myopic progression
Age; the younger the onset (under 10 years) the greater risk of progression.
Ethnicity; East Asians have the highest risk of becoming myopic
Genetics; With one myopic parent a child has up to 25% risk of becoming myopic, with 2 myopic parents, risk increases to up to 40% while if neither parent is myopic the risk is < 10%.
Lifestyle and environment; living in the city as opposed to a rural lifestyle along with reduced time spent outdoors combined with high levels of near work increase a child’s risk of myopia
Seasonal variation; there is less myopic progression in summer months
The outlook for myopia
About a 1/3 of the world are myopic with 3 % having high myopia ( over -5.00D), however it is estimated that by 2050 , more than ½ of the world’s population will be myopic with 10% being highly myopic. High myopia carries an increased risk of eye disease and therefore blindness.
While there is no cure for myopia, spectacles, contact lenses and refractive surgery can improve vision. However, there is now good robust evidence to show what may help actually reduce onset or at least slow progression of myopia;
10 hours of outdoor activity weekly; reduces risk of becoming myopic and possibly slowing progression.
Atropine therapy; a low dose 0.01% pharmaceutical can be prescribed for night time use with little or no side effects. Atropine relaxes accommodation (the focusing system of the eye) and appears to be a viable option for slowing progression
Spectacles; Full myopic correction is indicated; in fact under-correction of myopia may actually increase myopic progression. Specialised spectacle lenses which reduce the focusing burden of the eye with prolonged near work can be indicated in some cases; helping to reduce myopic progression.
Contact lenses; Specialised soft lenses have been shown to reduce progression. Furthermore, overnight wear of rigid lenses which reshape the cornea ( a process known as orthokeratology) may be indicated.
If you have concerns about your myopia or your child’s risk of myopia contact us today to discuss your best options