Do you know what myopia is?
Myopia – also known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness – is a common eye condition affecting many Australians. Myopia causes distant objects to be blurred, leading to symptoms of squinting, eyestrain, headaches, excessive blinking, eye rubbing and sometimes poor school performance or behavioural issues.
“Like any part of the body, the eye also needs to grow for full development.”
Myopia commonly presents in school aged children or teenagers and progression often continues until late 20’s. Myopia is prevalent during this time as this is the time children’s bodies are growing. Like any part of the body, the eye also needs to grow for full development. However, if the eye continues to grow longer than it needs too, we see myopia form. The longer the eye grows, the higher the prescription needed in corrective glasses, the thicker the lens and the poorer the visual potential.
Why the eye continues to grow, is not fully understood, but we are aware of some risk factors that may contribute which include:
- Increased time indoors, especially on close work and at a younger age.
- Strong family history, approximately 1 in 3 chance if 1 parent is myopic and 2 in 3 chance if 2 parents are myopic.
- Asian ethnicity.
- Academically focussed.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF MYOPIA?
Myopia, whilst a common eye condition, has potentially serious complications. As we now know, myopia means the eyeball length is physically longer, meaning it is stretched and weaker.
A stretched and weak eye can lead to 4 main events:
- Retinal detachment: The retina (part of eye responsible for seeing) comes away from its normal position lining the back of the eye which, if untreated, can cause complete loss of vision in the effected eye.
- Myopic Macular Degeneration: The macula (responsible for clear central vision) when stretched can cause tears and bleeding. Leading to reduced vision, needing treatment with eye injections.
- Glaucoma: When the back of the eye is stretched the nerve which takes information from the eye to the brain is damaged. This damages peripheral vision first and eventually comes in to affect central vision.
- Cataract: A clouding of the lens typically caused by UV damage over many years. Myopia has been linked to accelerating this process.
These are just the risks with more serious complications. The risk you run with Myopia does not stop there and many other factors need to be considered such as links to decreased quality of life due to poorer vision. It is for these reasons that myopia should be diagnosed and managed from an early age in order to prevent these conditions.
To find out more information regarding the treatment of Myopia, check out our Myopia Treatment blog here.