What Is Myopia?

Myopia is the medical term for nearsightedness and develops when the eye grows too long from front to back, causing light to focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it. Myopia causes distant objects to appear blurred while nearby objects remain clear.

This makes many distance tasks more difficult, such as seeing the board at school, playing sports, and even watching TV. Myopia develops during childhood, when the eyeballs are experiencing rapid growth, and tends to progress into the teen years.

What Is Progressive Myopia?

Because myopia is very often progressive, distance vision continually worsens. This means your child constantly needs an updated stronger prescription and new glasses or contacts. The rapid progression often outpaces your child’s eye exams. Learning is by and large visual and myopia negatively affects your child’s school performance. The higher rate of progression of myopia directly correlates with the risk levels of developing vision-threatening eye diseases. The higher the rate of myopia and progression, the greater the risks to your child’s vision.

What Causes Myopia?

The rapid rise in myopia’s frequency and severity has been linked to two factors:

1. Genetics- Myopia in children increases when parents are myopic

The likelihood of children developing myopia increases:

  • 1 in 2 when both parents are myopic
  • 1 in 3 when one parent is myopic
  • 1 in 4 when neither parent is myopic

2. Research is showing that modern lifestyles may influence the development of myopia.

These lifestyle changes include:

  • Insufficient time spent outdoors (less than 1.5 hours per day)
  • Prolonged time spent reading and playing or working with digital devices, like smartphones or tablets. (more than 2.5 hours per day)
  • Poor lighting levels in work area

Why Are Rates of Myopia Increasing? Is Myopia An Epidemic?

While the exact causes of Myopia are not entirely certain, the rates of myopia are on the rise. Over 10 million American children have myopia- nearly double the incidence rate of myopia as compared to only a two decades ago- and the incidence of Myopia in children is enough for it to be considered an epidemic.

The global prevalence of myopia is increasing significantly. In 2010, myopia affected 1.9 billion people worldwide, or 28% of the world’s population. By 2050, myopia is projected to affect almost 5 billion people or half of the world’s population.

Aren’t Glasses or Contact Lenses Enough?

Corrective lenses such as regular glasses or contact lenses refocus the light to compensate for the myopia allowing someone with Myopia to see more clearly. However, lenses do not address the myopia itself (the elongated eyeball or overly curved front of the eye and the risks associated with it).

These risks include Cataracts, Glaucoma, Myopic Macular Degeneration, and Retinal Detachment.

Cataracts: A child with high myopia, -8.00 or greater, is 5 times more likely to develop cataracts in his or her lifetime. Cataract is a condition where the lens of the eye clouds over and makes vision difficult or even impossible.
Glaucoma: A child with medium-high, myopia is 3 times more likely to develop glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when fluid builds up inside the eye, putting pressure on the eye causing irreversible damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness.
Retinal Detachment: A child with myopia, -5.00 to -7.00, is 9 times more likely to develop retinal detachment while a child with high myopia, worse than -8, is 21 times more likely to develop it. Retinal Detachment is a condition where the retina literally detaches from the layers beneath it causing loss of peripheral vision, flashes of light, floaters, and even total loss of your child’s eyesight.
Myopic Macular Degeneration: A child with -5.00 to -7.00 have a 41 times greater increased risk of developing macular degeneration. The risk rises to 126 times for children with high myopia(-8 or greater). When the progression of myopia (the eye becoming increasingly elongated) is extremely high, or, malignant, it can cause the retina to be stretched, causing tears to form in the macula and bleeding in the areas beneath the retina. This can cause irreversible vision loss and blindness.

What can be done? Is there a way to control myopia?

New research has led to the development of a number of methods to control myopia. Unlike glasses or regular contact lenses, the goal of myopia control is to slow or even halt the progression of myopia entirely. These methods can induce changes in the structure of the eye by diminishing the stress and fatigue linked to the developmental progression of myopia.

At Mountain View Eye, we currently offer several different customized treatment options to slow the progression of myopia. Our Doctors work closely with each patient and develop a treatment program for every child based on their unique needs. Patients are carefully monitored to assess the efficacy of the chosen treatment to maximize results.