Do you find it difficult to see distant objects, such as the signs on the highway, but reading a book up close is no problem at all? If so, you most likely have a vision problem known as myopia.
What Exactly is Myopia?
Myopia, also called nearsightedness, is a type of refractive error that makes seeing far away objects challenging, if not impossible, without proper aid. Other common types of refractive errors include hyperopia or farsightedness, astigmatism, and age-related presbyopia.
In myopia, the refractive error occurs with the eye shape causing light rays to refract or bend incorrectly. As a result, the eyes focus on images IN FRONT of the retina rather than ON the retina.
How Do You Know You’re Nearsighted?
Since myopia affects distance vision, the individual has a clearer vision when looking at nearby objects. Looking at an object from a distance, especially smaller details or poorer contrast, can be challenging because they look blurry or fuzzy.
Other symptoms to note are:
Seeing dots or specks called eye floaters
Seeing flashes of light or shadows
Squinting, often to see better
Tiredness when looking at faraway objects
Eye fatigue when driving or doing something that requires focus
If you’re a parent and you suspect that your child is nearsighted, one of the most obvious signs is when the child squints to watch TV or tries to go closer to it Having poor grades in school is something to watch out for, as well. It may be due to having difficulty seeing things from afar – such as being able to copy what is on the board. Myopic children may also have a short attention span because their hazy vision makes their surroundings look uninteresting (this is also true when there is any uncorrected refractive error).
When myopia is suspected, a thorough exam should be carried out where the eye doctor will check for refractive errors or any other underlying conditions. Although comprehensive, it’s quite straightforward and painless. You will usually be required to read letters from different distances. The eye doctor may use a piece (or pieces) of equipment, such as a retinoscope, to check for refractive errors. You may also be given eye drops, which will dilate your pupils.
Causes of Myopia: Are You at Risk?
Even after decades of research, it’s still impossible to pinpoint exactly what causes myopia. But eye experts believe it is a combination of the influences of the environment and heredity. The following will help assess your level of myopia risk:
Your ethnicity – while myopia can affect different ethnic groups, Asians have the highest prevalence, specifically Southeast and East Asians.
Are your parents both myopic? If only one has myopia, you have three times more risk of becoming nearsighted than other people.
Do you use digital devices for work? Computers, laptops, and smartphones are now a part of our lives. But if you have to use them for your job, you are more likely to have myopia.
Should You Be Worried?
Myopia is a global epidemic, being the most common ocular disorder around the world. It does not choose who to affect. Anyone, no matter the age and gender, can become nearsighted. There is no cure for myopia, so it’s only going to get worse from here. It’s even estimated that half of the world’s population (equivalent to about five billion people) will soon be affected by this condition by 2050.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it’s become a public health issue increasing affected numbers daily at an alarming rate. High myopia is strongly linked to vision impairment risks, including cataracts, glaucoma, myopic maculopathy, and retinal degeneration due to pathological conditions. But high myopia is not only the main concern because low myopia (-3.00 dioptres or less) can pose serious problems, too. Even a low amount of myopia (-1.00D) can lead to an increased risk of vision impairment and blindness.
But should you be worried? After all, you probably know ageing people with myopia who have retained their vision to this day. It’s not that simple. Think of it this way: a person who smokes 20 cigarettes each day faces a six times higher stroke risk than a non-smoker. If you have low myopia of -3.00D, your risk of developing myopic maculopathy is 10 times higher.
Myopic maculopathy (MM) is a serious complication of myopia, which is irreversible and often hard to manage. Additionally, it increases your risk of developing retinal detachment. It is a severe issue where the retina is detached or pulled away from its natural position 22 times.
It’s an upsetting fact that leaves an important message. If you or your child has myopia, it should be managed to prevent or at least delay its progression. That way, the risk of vision impairment and blindness can be reduced significantly.
What Can You Do?
First, let’s make it clear that there is still no cure for myopia. But the good news is that there are a few things that you can do now to delay its progression. As mentioned above, there is added risk for people using devices several hours a day. Here’s a good reason for you to put your phone down. Evidence has shown that spending more time outdoors – at least 90 minutes a day – can delay myopia development.
While outdoors, sun protection is a must. Wearing sunglasses and hats is not only for the skin but for eye health, as well. And while you’re outdoors, be physically active for at least 150 minutes a week (moderate activity).
Your indoor habits may also require some tweaking. For example, you love reading because it stimulates your brain and helps you learn new things. But it’s vital to take care of your eyes, too. Take regular breaks from reading. Remember the 20-20-20 rule, where you look at something 20 feet away (that’s 6 meters) for 20 seconds. Do this exercise every 20 minutes to let your eyes rest and allow them to refocus.
Don’t forget the Harmon Distance or the Elbow Rule, as well, especially when watching videos or reading on your phone or any device. This is especially helpful for to gauge the distance for the little ones too. To determine the elbow distance, place a closed fist at the eye. Follow where your elbow, which tells you the optimal distance for your device or any reading material.
How Can You Help Your Kids?
Are you worried that your child could be myopic? This quick survey will help you determine your child’s risk for developing myopia.
And just like with the tips for adults above, it’s essential to encourage your son or daughter to spend some time outdoors instead of watching TV or playing video games. Outdoor activity has been found to be an important factor to reduce the risk of myopia. As much as possible, limit leisure screen time to two hours every day to help maintain their eye health.
Since children’s eyes are still developing, parents should know and understand what they can do for their children. That’s why visiting an eye doctor is crucial.
Myopia Treatment and Management
As mentioned above, there is no cure for myopia. However, it does not mean you cannot manage it. There are plenty of treatment methods available, but the success and type of treatment will depend on the age of the patient:
Parents often mistake single vision eyeglasses as the end-all-be-all solution for myopia in children. But the reality is complex since a pair of standard glasses cannot prevent myopia from getting worse. The good news is that there are a few promising treatments that may be able to slow down myopia progression in young people, including:
Myopia controlling spectacle lenses such as MiyoSmart from Hoya Vision Care
Myopia controlling soft contact lenses such as MiSight 1-Day from CooperVision Australia)
You will need to consult with an eye doctor to determine the best treatment option for your child.
Depending on the severity of myopia, your eye doctor will prescribe you the correct eyeglass lenses to help manage refractive error. The right glass lenses can give you the clearest vision possible. Another option is to wear contact lenses. Adults find it easier to wear contact lenses than children, although most people prefer eyeglasses for many reasons. Your eye doctor will give you lenses with the perfect fit. Make sure that you pay attention to the instructions in wearing and cleaning your lenses safely.
Talk over your options with an eye doctor. It helps to see your doctor for regular eye exams. It’s also necessary to discuss any vision changes you may have experienced or any issues with your contact lenses or glasses. Encourage family members to get checked for myopia due to the possible risks and because it can run in the family.
How We Can Help with Myopia Control and Management
Part of staying healthy is taking care of your eyes. Having routine eye exams goes hand in hand with eating a balanced diet, being physically active, and enjoying outdoor activities. By visiting an eye doctor regularly, it will be much easier to manage myopia or any vision disorders, especially because they can be detected early.
Our goal at E Eye Place is to help you achieve your best vision. We have a team of experienced eye care practitioners with years of experience in managing myopia. Over the years, we have developed an advanced understanding of myopia physiology, allowing us to provide suitable treatments for patients with low to high myopia.
We specialise in myopia management for both adults and children. We are strongly committed to protecting everyone’s vision, especially young children who require a customised solution. We take it a step further by using advanced technologies, such as the ZEISS IOL Master, which can track changes in eyeball elongation.
Our comprehensive suite of myopia control methods include:
Myopia control spectacles such as MiyoSmart
Myopia control soft contact lenses such as MiSight contact lenses (FDA-approved)
OrthoKeratology lenses for overnight vision correction
Axial length monitoring (the gold standard in myopia control)
There is still a long way to tackle nearsightedness, but we want you to join us in our quest for myopia control and management. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Our friendly staff can also help you schedule your next eye exam.