Myopia is an eye condition that makes it difficult to focus on objects that are far away from you. It is more commonly known as nearsightedness. Almost 25% of the global population suffers from myopia. It is an epidemic that we have not seen coming.
Here are all the important things you need to know about myopia.
What is Myopia?
One of the most common causes of blurry vision is nearsightedness. Distant objects and texts seem blurry and hard to read but closer ones can be seen clearly. This is what we call myopia or nearsightedness.
Myopia is a refractive error. It means that the eye cannot bend or refract the light accurately. Due to an elongated eyeball, the eye cannot focus properly on the light that enters it which makes objects from a distance appear unclear.
Nearsightedness is very common. In the US alone, it is currently affecting 30% of the population. Although the prevalence is high, myopia is affecting every patient in several types.
Types of Myopia
- Simple Myopia
Despite the blurry vision, the eye remains healthy in this type of myopia. Prescription glasses or contact lenses can easily correct the patient’s vision.
- High Myopia
High myopia is a more complicated type of myopia. This starts at a young age and progresses in adulthood. This type of myopia increases the risks of developing more serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, or cataracts.
- Pathological Myopia
Pathological myopia is also known as degenerative myopia. This is the worst type of myopia because it is directly accompanied by other eye conditions. These conditions affect the retina and include lattice degeneration or the thinning of the retina, retinal atrophy or the death of some parts of the retina, and Forster-Fuchs’ spot or the scarring of the retina.
All of the eye conditions mentioned above can lead to blindness. Pathological myopia is a serious eye condition that can no longer be corrected by mere eyeglasses or contact lenses. The best thing to do to slow the progressions is to visit your eye doctor regularly.
Causes of Myopia
An elongated or too curved eyeball is the root cause of nearsightedness. The light that enters the eye stops in front of the retina instead of on it. The retina is responsible for using light to form images and send them to the brain. When the light cannot focus properly on the retina, the images appear blurry.
Genetics is believed to be increasing the likelihood of developing myopia. However, scientists are still trying to search for the specific causes of myopia. Aside from genetics, some factors are believed to be increasing the risks of myopia, such as too much exposure to up-close activities, eyestrain, and other health issues.
Symptoms of Myopia
The primary symptom of myopia is a blurry vision when looking at distant objects. Others symptoms may include:
- eye fatigue
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to consult an optometrist immediately. The early treatment for myopia may be corrective glasses and contact lenses but a more complicated type of myopia may require surgery.
Diagnosis of Myopia
An optometrist will be performing several eye examinations to determine the degree and type of myopia. Eye doctors will be using Snellen’s chart and phoropter to examine how the eye focuses on light to determine the right prescription of glasses needed.
Treatment Options for Myopia
Upon the confirmation of the diagnosis, the next step to be taken is to generate an effective treatment plan. The following are the best treatment options for myopia:
Prescription Glasses and contact lenses
These are the most common treatment options for myopia. High-index lenses are some of the good choices for eyeglass lenses because they have a thinner and lighter feel. There are also anti-reflective coating and photochromic lenses to protect eyes from UV rays and other high-energy light.
Looking at your prescription, you may see the degree of your myopia. The first digit on your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription must have a minus sign to indicate that you are nearsighted. Otherwise, a plus sign will mean the opposite. The number after the minus sign determines how nearsighted you are.
Another treatment option to consider is a nonsurgical orthokeratology or also known as corneal refractive therapy. This involves a rigid contact lens that should be worn overnight to reshape your cornea. The morning after that, you will experience a clearer vision temporarily for a day without glasses or contact lenses.
These lenses act as retainers that put pressure on the cornea to flatten it. This helps change how the light focuses as it penetrates the eye. However, this option also carries risks for eye infections.
For a more permanent solution, surgery is one to consider. This is recommended for people who have severe stages of myopia.
- PRK – One option for surgery is through the use of laser. This is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a powerful beam of light to alter the shape of the cornea. Laser surgery improves how the eye focuses on light.
- LASIK – This is the most popular refractive surgery among all the options. This uses a laser to remove a part of the corneal tissue through a thin flap to reshape the cornea. This yields quicker results that may restore perfect eyesight in just a day after surgery.
- Phakic IOLs – This option is for patients who cannot undergo laser surgeries. Phakic IOLs are permanently implanted as corrective lenses inside the eye.
Your eye doctor may suggest a different surgery option depending on your case and personal preferences. Every option has pros and cons which requires you to choose wisely.
Prevention Against Myopia
Since myopia is generally hereditary, it is hard to prevent this in people who have parents with myopia. Spending more time outdoors with more exposure to natural light could help slow down the progression of myopia. Avoid doing too many up-close tasks, such as reading or working in front of a computer may also help.