Myopia: What You Need To Know About Nearsightedness

Myopia, or more commonly referred to as nearsightedness, is by far the most common cause of diminished vision for individuals under 40 years of age. Its prevalence is continuing to grow at an incredible rate.

Worldwide, research shows that one-fourth of the population suffered from myopia, but it is expected that half of the world’s population will suffer from nearsightedness by the year 2050.

Symptoms of Myopia

If you have myopia, you will find it hard to read road signs and clearly see distant objects, but you will be able to see clearly for closeup tasks like using a computer and reading a book or newspaper. Other signs and symptoms of nearsightedness include eye strain, squinting, and headaches. A few other symptoms include feeling fatigued while playing sports and while driving.

If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms or signs while wearing contacts or glasses, make sure to schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor to determine if a stronger prescription if necessary.

What Causes Myopia?

When your eyeball is too long, relative to the focusing potential of the lens and cornea, that is when nearsightedness occurs. This results in light rays focusing at an area in front of the retina as opposed to on the retina’s surface. In some cases, it can be caused by the lens and/or cornea being too curved for the eyeball’s length. Sometimes, nearsightedness may happen as a result of a combination of the aforementioned factors.

As a general rule, myopia begins during childhood, and if you have family members that are nearsighted, then you are at a higher risk of developing it. In most cases, myopia will stabilize during the early years as an adult, but there are some instances when it will continue to worsen as you age.

Treatment of Myopia

Myopia can be corrected with contact lenses, eyeglasses, or refractive surgery. Depending on how severe your myopia is, it may be necessary to wear your glasses or contacts all the time or when you need to clear distance vision, such as when driving, watching a movie, or viewing a chalkboard.

When it comes to myopia, some good options for eyeglass lenses are high-index lenses for lighter and thinner glasses as well as lenses that have an anti-reflective coating. In addition, you may want to consider photochromic lenses that will help to protect your eyes from high-energy blue light and UV rays while reducing the need for a separate pair of outdoor prescription sunglasses.

If you are nearsighted, the first number (also known as the sphere) on your contact lens or eyeglass prescription will be preceded by a minus sign. The higher this number is, the more nearsighted you are.

Refractive surgery has the ability to reduce or possibly eliminate your need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. Commonly, these procedures are performed with what is known as an excimer laser.

  • PRK – With this procedure, the laser will remove a layer of the corneal tissue, which will flatten your cornea and allow rays of light to focus more precisely on your retina.
  • LASIK – With this refractive procedure, which is the most common, a thin flap will be created on the cornea’s surface, a laser will remove some of the corneal tissue, and the flap will then be returned to its initial position.

There is also a non-surgical procedure known as orthokeratology that allows you to wear rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses at nighttime that work to reshape the cornea while you’re asleep. When the lenses are removed the next morning, the cornea will retain its new shape temporarily so that you are able to see clearly throughout the day without the need for eyeglasses or contacts.

Orthokeratology as well as corneal refractive therapy (CRT), which is a GP contact lens procedure, have both been proven to be effective at correcting mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness temporarily. Both of these procedures are solid alternatives to surgery for those who are not eligible for refractive surgery for whatever reason, such as not meeting the age requirements for LASIK.

Implantable lenses, which are referred to as phakic IOLS, are another surgical option for correcting myopia, especially for those with higher levels of nearsightedness or corneas that are thinner than usual that could increase the complications from laser vision correction procedures.

Phakic IOLs work similar to that of contacts except that they’re surgically placed in the eye and tend to be permanent, which means that there is no maintenance required. Unlike the IOLs that are used in cataract surgery, the phakic IOLs will not replace the natural lens of the eye, which is left completely intact.

How to Control Myopia

With more and more individuals in the world becoming nearsighted, there is more interest in finding different ways to control the progression of the condition during adolescence. There are a variety of techniques that have already been tried, including having children fitted with progressive lenses, bifocals, and gas permeable contacts—all of which have delivered varied results.

Recent clinical research has shown that low-dose atropine eye drops may be able to slow the progression of nearsightedness in school-age children and with considerably fewer side effects as compared with higher concentrations of the drops. However, some children do not respond very well to these eye drops.

A 2017 study showed that a dual-focus daily disposable contact helped reduce the progression rate of nearsightedness in children between the ages of eight and 12 when compared to a single vision contact lens.

A specially designed multifocal lens helped to decrease progression by 59 percent, 54 percent, and 52 percent at one, two, and three years respectively, compared to the progression rate experienced by children who wore traditional contacts.

Degenerative Myopia

Generally, myopia is just a minor inconvenience and poses minimal—and possibly no—risk to your eye health. In some cases, myopia can be so incredibly progressive and serious that it is considered a degenerative condition.

Degenerative myopia, also referred to as pathological or malignant myopia, is a rare condition that is considered hereditary and tends to begin during early adolescence. Roughly two percent of American individuals are affected, and it is considered the leading source of legal blindness.

With malignant myopia, eyeball elongation can occur relatively rapidly, which can result in quick and severe progression of the condition as well as vision loss. Individuals with this particular condition may have a considerable increased risk of retinal detachment as well as other degenerative changes, such as bleeding from abnormal growth of blood vessels. Degenerative myopia may also boost the risk of cataracts.

Visit Your Doctor

If you have been having difficult seeing objects near you or find that you’re holding your smartphone or books farther away so that you can se the words better, make sure that you schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. Myopia is a treatable condition, and when it comes to children, it is a condition that can be slowed down with the right treatment. For more information, contact us at Performance Vision.