While you may be familiar with ‘nearsightedness’ or ‘myopia’ many people are not fully aware of the eye health implications of this condition even though it impacts more than 135 million Americans. The impact of myopia goes well beyond blurry vision.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the following:
1) Myopia can have significant impacts on eye health
2) There are innovative ways to slow or stop the progression of myopia
3) Benefits of Myopia Control for kids
4) For adults, Myopia Control can be a surgery-free way to live without glasses and contacts.
The blurry vision caused by myopia is the result of the eye being ‘too long’ or the refraction of the cornea (the clear front of the eye) being ‘too powerful’ and out of focus. While this blurry vision can typically be corrected using standard glasses and contact lenses, it’s important to understand the health impacts beyond the need for vision correction.
Impacts on Eye Health
Many people who are myopic are unaware of what having this condition can mean for their overall eye health. In cases of extreme nearsightedness, the risk for the patient developing several eye diseases increases significantly, including:
- Myopic Macular Degeneration
- Retinal Tears
- Retinal Detachments
In fact, every additional unit of nearsightedness makes an individual 60% more likely to be visually impaired at some point in their life. That means someone who has a -3.00 prescription is almost five-times as likely as someone without a myopic prescription to develop permanent visual impairment related to being nearsighted.
Innovative Ways to Slow or Stop the Progression of Myopia
The team at Medical Optometry America stresses to all our patients how important early detection and intervention is when it comes to eye disease and overall eye health. Most people will develop nearsightedness as children, which generally increases until the eye is done developing in early adulthood.
Early intervention with a myopia control strategy has the ability to dramatically reduce and even completely halt the progression of myopia. Unfortunately, there aren’t any known therapies that reverse the changes to the eye from myopia once they occur, so prevention is key.
Benefits of Myopia Control for kids
All children should be examined shortly after birth and again before starting school for any signs of myopia. Eye exams should continue through grade school, high school, and beyond. The annual exams are critical to identify and track any physical changes in the eye related to myopia or other conditions.
When changes are identified and assessed, there are several treatment options the team at MOA can utilize to slow the progression of myopia.
- Prescription eyedrops – low dose Atropine eyedrops allow the eyes to relax their focus and reduce anatomical changes from myopia.
- Soft contact lenses – these specialized multi-focal contact lenses are a popular option for treatment and offer the same benefits as prescription eyedrops.
- Orthokeratology or Ortho K (overnight corneal retainers) – this option helps reshape the cornea while the patient sleeps like a retainer for teeth.
Myopia Control Can be a Surgery-Free Way to Live without Glasses and Contacts
One big benefit of the Ortho K procedure mentioned above is the ability in many cases to use it to correct people with myopia back to 20/20 or better during the day. The cornea is reshaped with retainers overnight and will maintain that shape for several hours afterwards. This is a meaningful accomplishment for many patients, especially ones who are active in sports like swimming where using glasses and contacts can be a challenge.
Many patients, including those suffering from dry eye, have found Ortho K to be a cost-effective and reversable alternative to LASIK surgery.
The anatomic changes and increased disease risk related to myopia are life-long. Knowing the risks is very important and keeping up with annual eye exams offers the best chance to avoiding long term damage to your vision from this common condition.
Take the first step toward controlling myopia and maintaining good eye health by booking your MOA Annual Eye Physical.