What Causes Myopia?
Myopia has been proven to be caused by the eye growing longer than necessary for clear vision. This change in “axial length” causes a person’s distance vision to become out of focus and blurry. Unfortunately, there are no muscles to train or relax to naturally correct for myopia and glasses or contact lenses are required for clear vision. There are a few factors that are shown to increase the risk of developing myopia.
- Genetics: Myopia tends to run in families. If one of your parents is nearsighted, there is a chance that you will be as well. If both of your parents are nearsighted, your risk increases significantly.
- Spending too much time indoors: Studies have shown that people who spend little time outdoors have a higher risk of having myopia than those who go outdoors often.
What Are the Symptoms Of Myopia?
The most common symptom of myopia is seeing objects in the distance as blurry. The other symptoms include:
- Needing to squint to see objects in the distance
- Needing to sit closer to the TV or in the classroom
- Being unaware of objects in the distance
- Excessive blinking
- Needing to rub your eyes frequently to see objects in the distance more clearly
Why Is Myopia A Concern?
Myopia results in blurry vision at a distance and, while this is already an issue, there are other health concerns that come with higher amounts of myopia
- Myopic people have 2-3x the risk of a person without myopia of developing glaucoma
- Myopia also increases the risk of developing cataracts by 2, 3 or 5.5x depending on how myopic a person is
- A person with high myopia, prescriptions over -5.00 diopters, is also 21.5x as likely to develop a retinal detachment: a potentially blinding condition
How can we treat myopia
Unfortunately, myopia cannot be permanently corrected until a person is old enough for LASIK or cataract surgery; and even still the risk to the internal health of the eyes will remain after surgery. There are, however, emerging methods and technologies we offer that may help reduce the amount of myopia a person develops and spare them the increased risk for eye disease.
- Atropine therapy involves the use of a safe and common ocular medication at incredibly small concentrations to reduce the growth of the eye during sensitive ages. This compounded medication is approximately 1/50th the strength of the drop typically used to dilate pupils. At this concentration, there are typically no side effects when used once daily and the rate of myopic progression can be limited to around 50%
- Multifocal (bifocal) contact lenses may be used to decrease the rate of progression of myopia as well. Multifocal contact lenses which will be fitted specifically to a patient’s eyes will act as their primary vision correction for myopia, alleviating their need for glasses during the day, and will also decrease their rate of myopic progression by just under 50%. Multifocal contact lenses cause a defocus in a person’s less sensitive peripheral vision, tricking the eye into thinking it has grown too long and stopping further growth. Because the lenses do cause some defocus, distance vision may be less clear than with glasses but should still be adequate for almost all tasks
- Orthokeratology is a temporary eye-reshaping process during which a patient sleeps in rigid contact lenses overnight. The reshaping process flattens a person’s cornea, similar to the way LASIK works, allowing for improved distance vision for up to 24 hours after removal. The area just outside of the flattened cornea causes a defocus much like multifocal contact lenses and may decrease the rate of myopia by just under 50% as well. It should be known, however, that any vision correction is temporary and that risk of wearing the contact lenses each night to provide this clarity comes at both an elevated health risk and financial cost
- Progressive or bifocal glasses have shown a minimal but statistically significant ability to decrease myopic progression as well. By wearing progressive or bifocal glasses, myopic growth can be reduced by around 20%
Ask your doctor if myopia management may be right for your child and they can build a plan that fits your family needs!