Myopia is now the most commonly diagnosed refractive eye condition in the world. Nevertheless, many people still know very little about it and what it means for their vision. Recently, treatments have been found which can help to slow the progression of myopia provided they are started at a young age. This is known as myopia control. To help you understand more about myopia control, we have put together this blog containing some of the questions we are most frequently asked it, and of course, those all-important answers.
What is myopia?
Myopia is the medical term for near-sightedness – a refractive ocular condition. This means that it is caused by errors in the way that light refracts as it enters the eye. In patients with myopia, typically either the eyeball is too long, or the cornea is too curved. This means that light is refracted in front of the retina rather than on the retina. Patients who are diagnosed with myopia can usually see objects close to them clearly, but objects that are at a distance appear blurred and don’t come into clear focus irrespective of how hard they try to see them.
What causes myopia?
Myopia can run in the family. Studies have shown that hereditary factors can influence the growth and development of the eye, causing the eyeball to become longer than usual or the cornea to curve incorrectly. However, more recently links have been found between extensive screen time and close vision work and the development of myopia too. Since we are spending longer than ever looking at the screens of mobile devices including smartphones and tablets, this is unsurprising. Studies also estimate that the number of people being diagnosed with myopia will continue to rise over the next 10 years.
There is particular concern around children and the development of myopia, which typically starts in school-aged children and continues until they reach adulthood.
Is myopia treatable?
Fortunately, like all refractive eye problems, myopia is treatable. Patients can choose prescription glasses and/or contact lenses to help them see more clearly. They can also undergo laser vision correction to enable them to improve their eyesight without the need for prescription eyewear.
However, what if we told you that you can slow the development of myopia and minimize the impact it will have on your child as they get older? This is possible thanks to something known as myopia control.
What is myopia control?
Myopia control is the name given to a series of different techniques that are used to try and control the development of myopia so that it develops more slowly and is less debilitating until your child is much older.
There are currently three different techniques primarily being used to control the development of myopia. These include:
Ortho K – These specialized lenses are worn at night with the purpose of gently reshaping the eye so that it doesn’t grow into the elongated shape that is associated with a diagnosis of myopia.
Atropine – Atropine is available as a form of eye drop or ointment that is placed into the eyes. It works by blocking receptors found in the muscles of the eye, relaxing them and stopping them from focusing.
Multifocal contact lenses – These special lenses have different ocular prescriptions in different parts of the lens. Although they are commonly used to correct other problems including astigmatism and presbyopia, they have also found to be effective in controlling the development of myopia.
Why is myopia control important?
Controlling myopia is about much more than just vision changes, although this is typically people’s immediate concern. Research has discovered that patients with moderate to severe myopia are at increased risk of a range of severe ocular health problems that could cause irreversible blindness including:
- Almost a 300% increase in their risk of glaucoma
- A 1000% increase in their risk of retinal detachment.
- Macular degeneration
- Retinal holes
- Retinal tears
By slowing or potentially preventing the progression of myopia, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of these eye diseases occurring and help your child to enjoy better, healthier vision for as long possible.
If you would like more information on myopia control, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our friendly, experienced team at our vision center.