Myopia, which is also commonly known as nearsightedness, affects up to 30% of the population of the United States. That’s millions of people who are impacted by nearsightedness. No one knows exactly what causes myopia to occur, but there are steps that you can take to manage the condition.
What Is Myopia?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, occurs when the eye’s shape results in incoming light incorrectly refracting. Because of this, images aren’t displayed directly on the retina as they should be but are instead in front of the retina, which makes objects located farther away appear to be blurry.
Myopia develops quickly in some, but gradually in others. It’s common for myopia to worsen throughout childhood and into adolescence. Myopia also tends to run in families, so if you have relatives with myopia, you have a greater chance of having it yourself. Genetics and environmental factors such as not enough time spent outdoors can both contribute to an increased risk of developing myopia.
Can Myopia Be Prevented?
While myopia may not be preventable, there are some factors that can help to reduce the risk of developing it. One way is to spend more time outdoors. This is because natural sunlight can have a positive impact on eyesight. It’s also important to take breaks from devices, reading, and time spent on a computer. This is because all of these items require a lot of sustained focus and they’re very close to the face, preventing the eyes from having to focus farther away.
What Are the Risk Factors of Myopia?
There are two primary risk factors that can increase your chances of developing myopia. These risk factors are environmental conditions and genetics. Nearsightedness tends to run in families, so if you have relatives, especially parents, with myopia, then you’re more likely to get it yourself. On top of that, your environment can increase your risk of developing myopia. If you spend too much time indoors, you’re more likely to develop nearsightedness. This is because everything indoors is typically much closer to you than it is outdoors. Not using the eye muscles needed for seeing things that are farther away can increase your risk of becoming nearsighted.
What Complications Can Arise from Myopia?
If you have myopia, there are some complications that can arise. These include:
- Financial cost (for glasses or contacts or other treatments)
- Higher risk of the following eye conditions:
- Myopic maculopathy
- Detached retinas
There are further complications that can arise if myopia is left untreated. These are:
- Reduced quality of living
- Reduced safety
What Are the Symptoms of Myopia?
The symptoms of myopia can include:
- Objects farther away appear blurry
- Trouble seeing at night
- Trouble seeing while driving
- Having to squint to see clearly
In children, look out for these signs of myopia
- Frequently rubbing eyes
- Blinking a lot
- Moving closer to be able to see a television screen, classroom blackboard, etc.
- Appearing unaware of objects farther away
If you notice these symptoms either in yourself or in your child, it’s important to visit an eye doctor in order to get your vision tested. In many cases, glasses will be needed in order to correct the myopia and allow things that are further away to be seen clearly. This is especially important for a child, whose development may be impacted by not being able to see properly.
How Is Myopia Managed?
Myopia is managed through a combination of glasses or contact lenses and regular visits to the eye doctor. The first step in treating myopia is to visit the eye doctor for a vision test, which will diagnose the myopia and determine what strength of eyeglasses is needed to address the problem. Your eye doctor can also help you to determine what kind of glasses will be best suited to your needs.
It’s important to continue visiting your eye doctor regularly, however. This is because the prescription that is needed to correct your vision typically changes over time. Your eye doctor will need to continue testing your vision and giving you a new prescription as needed. Typically, if you notice your vision isn’t as clear as it used to be, it’s time to go back to the eye doctor. As you get older, it’s recommended to visit at regular intervals, such as once every one or two years.
Myopia Control Options
If you have myopia, there are fortunately many options that you can choose from to treat and control it. You should talk to your eye doctor to learn which myopia control option is best for you.
One of the most common treatment options for myopia is corrective lenses. You can choose either glasses or contact lenses or a combination of the two. The types of lenses that can control myopia are prescription, so you’ll need to make an appointment with your eye doctor in order to get them.
Atropine Eye Drops
Atropine eye drops can help to treat myopia by relaxing the mechanism the eyes use to focus. They’re often used with children to slow myopia’s progression. However, these eye drops typically only work effectively in the short term and have diminishing effects on controlling myopia after about a year.
Bifocal and Multifocal Eyeglasses
Bifocal and multifocal eyeglasses are a great option if you have more than one eye condition. Bifocal lenses have two different sections, each with a different prescription. Multifocals can accommodate more. If corrective lenses are needed for multiple purposes, including correcting myopia, multifocal lenses can be a good option.
Orthokeratology is similar to orthodontics in that instead of correcting vision, it reshapes the cornea. Orthokeratology involves specially fitted contact lenses that are designed to reshape your cornea in order to make it focus as it should, similar to how braces change the positioning of your teeth in order to correct dental problems.
Myopia Control FAQs
Can eye exercises cure myopia?
There is no cure for myopia. However, some eye exercises may help to treat it by minimizing eyestrain. The eye is a muscle and exercise can help to improve it. Some eye exercises are to change your focus to something farther away, trace a figure 8 with your eyes, scan the room, or follow the 20-20-20 rule, which involves looking 20 feet away from you every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds.
Is myopia dangerous?
Myopia isn’t necessarily dangerous to your health, but it can lead to other eye problems. It is dangerous, however, in that if it’s left uncorrected, your safety and the safety of those around you is reduced. This is especially the case if you drive with untreated myopia. You’re not able to see as well, so you put yourself and others at risk. You’re also more at risk while not driving because you can’t see as well to prevent falls and other accidents.
How effective is myopia management?
While no amount of myopia management can cure it, taking the proper steps to manage myopia can slow its progression by up to 78%. Managing myopia can also improve your quality of life and help to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. Leaving myopia untreated will significantly reduce your quality of life, interfering with your ability to work or enjoy hobbies and entertainment.