What is myopia?
Myopia is the term given to the condition better known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness, where only things seen at a short distance away are in focus.
This is considered a common condition that impacts vision where far objects appear blurry, yet close objects are seen clearly hence the term near-sightedness. This condition is caused by a dysfunction in the shape of the eye, whereby light rays refract incorrectly creating a clear image focus ahead (in front) of the retina rather than on the retina where perfect vision is normally delivered.
Who Gets Myopia?
Children from around the age of 8 to 10 years and young adolescents develop myopia which starts barely noticeable then gradually develops and progresses over 5 to 10 years before usually stabilising when the eye is fully developed. Myopia then lasts all the person’s life.
What is the main cause of myopia?
The main cause of myopia is an elongated eyeball or if the cornea is too curved. The light rays that are required to come into focus exactly at the retina, end up focusing ahead of (in front of) the retina. This gives a good vision of nearby objects because the lens is able to focus the light rays, but a poor vision of distant objects.
Can myopia be cured?
There is currently no absolute cure for myopia, but a lot can be done to reduce the impact.
The existing solution for good vision lies in wearing glasses or contact lenses. However, there is good news as children who are diagnosed with myopia can benefit from new methods that slow down the progression of the condition and hence the long term severity. This is done by a specialist prescribing specially designed lenses to help correct the shape of the cornea, by a change of lifestyle and by prescription of certain eye drops.
Children’s lifestyle plays a big role in the development and severity of myopia, as a “book worm” or “tablet/cell phone worm” is at higher risk than the child who plays outside in the open air and does less intense prolonged close work. Ms Naz Raoof the paediatric ophthalmologist can advise on your child’s near-sightedness.
Adults suffering from myopia may consider LASIK surgery to get rid of their glasses or contact lenses. This, however, is not suitable when the cornea is too thin, furthermore LASIK surgery may be deemed unsuitable for those with dry eyes or large pupils. Some patients have an irregularly curved cornea which becomes cone-shaped, called keratoconus, and they have complex myopia which requires special contact lenses or a corneal cross-linking (CXL) light treatment to prevent keratoconus progression. An assessment by a cornea specialist is critical before embarking on such an operation or procedure. Mr Sajjad Ahmad at Clinica London is one of the top cornea consultants in the country; he would be happy to conduct a thorough assessment before you decide to have LASIK surgery of CXL.
Is myopia really bad?
Myopia comes in different levels; mild myopia rarely increases the risk of other eye problems. However, moderate and high myopia can impact vision-threatening side effects.
The main reason ophthalmologists want to reduce the risk and degree of myopia is that it weakens other structures of the eye so there is a higher risk of retinal detachment and macular oedema, with sight loss.
What causes myopia in kids?
Genetics play a large part in developing myopia. Near-sighted parents can expect a high chance of myopia in their children, which why it is extremely important for them to ensure their children have an eye test once a year. Children often do not know that their vision is poor; it is only through an eye test that this is typically determined.
How can we prevent myopia in children?
As myopia is typically genetic, we cannot prevent it, but we can control the progression in children with this condition. There is evidence to suggest two hours of natural daylight per day helps in avoiding myopia progression. Further reduction in the progression of myopia can be made through the administration of certain eye drops by a specialist ophthalmologist. At Clinica London, we have top paediatric ophthalmologist Ms Naz Raoof who can assess children and their visual development. She will advise on the appropriate treatment to help slow down the progression of myopia for children.