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Have severe shortsightedness? You may be at risk of a retinal detachment

People with a shortsighted or myopic eye with more than eight dioptres of myopia have a greater predisposition to develop other eye conditions, such as glaucoma or cataract and especially pathologies related to the retina, such as retinal detachment.
Why? A highly myopic eye is longer than average. As a consequence, the walls of the inner eye – lined by the choroid and the retina – are much thinner than a non-myopic eye. Therefore, these structures are much more fragile and vulnerable to develop small areas of thinning and even tear, which can predispose you to a retinal detachment and affect your vision.
In a myopic eye, it is more frequent to encounter these areas of retinal thinness right out at the periphery, where the eye is more predisposed to form a small retinal tear and subsequently a retinal detachment if the retinal tear is not picked up.
Equally, in high myopia, there is a higher frequency of degenerative lesions in the central retina such as the macula with areas of atrophy affecting the choroid and pigment epithelium, which are layers lining the eye.
Myopic macular degeneration can lead to loss of central vision through retinal atrophy and through the growth of new blood vessels at the macula, which then separates the layers of the retina, called retinoschisis, and leads to a macular hole.

If you have high myopia and experiences any visual symptoms like these…

We encourage you to book an urgent visit with an ophthalmologist. Even if the symptoms are subtle, such as photopsia, flashing lights or the sensation that there are flies in the vision called Moscas Volantes (in Spanish), which describes so aptly what the patient experiences. You must not ignore these symptoms if they appear suddenly.
If a patient with a highly myopic eye develops

  • a disturbance of their central visual such as gets a dark spot in their vision or notices a shadow in the periphery of their vision which is progressive and does not disappear,
  • a distortion of their vision in any way,

then again, that person requires an urgent ophthalmic assessment.
Early treatment can make a big difference to the prognosis in these cases and usually improves the prognosis significantly.
Fortunately, very often, the floaters and flashing lights (known as photopsia) are merely changes in the clean vitreous gel which fills the eye. We can reassure you that there is no myopic retinal damage with a retinal hole. It is, however, best to know this by having a comprehensive eye examination.
If you have high myopia and you are concerned about your vision because there has been a change in it, you require a full ophthalmic assessment. Clinica London ophthalmologists such as Laura Crawley, Jaheed Khan or Professor Michel Michaelides can carry out such an assessment, to ensure that you do not have a cataract, retinal or macular pathology.
At the consultation, we will measure and assess your visual function and examine your eye in detail using highly specialised imaging techniques, to exclude cataract, retinal detachment or myopic maculopathy.
Yours sincerely,
Jane Olver
Consultant Ophthalmologist, Oculoplastic & Lacrimal Surgeon


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