Myopia, or shortsightedness, means distance objects appear blurred and out of focus. In everyday language we use ‘myopic’ to describe a person with a short range focus. Myopia is a growing problem throughout the world. Uncorrected myopia is the second most common cause of blindness globally. Estimates show 22.9% of the world suffers from myopia. Of particular concern are the group with very high prescriptions, or high myopia.
Myopia is not just the need for glasses and high myopia is not simply thicker lenses. With myopia comes increased risk of eye conditions like glaucoma, retinal detachment and macular degeneration. These risks increase with higher prescriptions.
It is understood there is a genetic component to myopia. Having one parent who is myopic doubles the risk of becoming short sighted. Two parents increase the risk by 8 times. Environmental factors also seem to influence the development of myopia. These include time spent indoors versus outdoors. More time outdoors seems to result in less myopia. Spending a lot of time on close range work, reading and screens, is also associated with more myopia.
If a child is myopic, the likelihood is this will progress as they grow; while some children have slow rates of progression, for others vision changes rapidly.
How to control myopia in children has become a hot topic for optometrists. Fortunately there are effective ways to intervene and slow myopia progression. These include orthoKeratology (hard contact lenses), multifocal contact lenses, atropine eye drops and progressive or bifocal glasses. Talk to us about the best options for you or your children.