What is Myopia?
Myopia, also called nearsightedness, is the inability to see things clearly unless they are relatively close to your eyes. Distant objects will appear blurry while near objects will remain clear. Symptoms may include squinting, eye strain and headaches. Typically, myopia begins during childhood and progresses rapidly, unless treated. Juvenile-onset progressive myopia occurs when a child’s prescription continually worsens and can dramatically increase the risk of developing serious vision problems later in life. Early intervention with myopia treatment is crucial to help slow down the progression of your child’s myopia.
Causes of Myopia
Myopia occurs when the eye grows too long, causing light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. It can also be caused by the cornea or lens being too curved for the length of the eyeball. Sometimes, myopia may be due to a combination of these two factors. We expect the eye to grow during childhood, but this growth occurs at a faster rate in myopic children, leading to stronger glasses every year. There are several theories on the etiology of myopia development. It is widely accepted that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved, including decreased time outdoors and increased screen time on devices.
The Myopia Epidemic
The percentage of children with myopia, or nearsightedness, continues to rise. 1 in 3 children are currently believed to be affected. By 2050, myopia is expected to affect at least 5 billion people worldwide. The rates have already climbed to 80-90% in some parts of Asia. Although the exact cause for this is unknown, many researchers believe reduced outdoor time and increased screen time may be partially responsible. This is of great concern, as myopia can often lead to struggles in school, as well as increased risk of serious eye disease. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO), has added myopia to their agenda of significant concerns.
The greater the myopia, the higher the risks of serious eye diseases.
Glasses can only compensate for your child’s blurry vision. They do not stop their vision from worsening. The good news is that we now have treatment options to slow the progression of your child’s myopia, which will decrease their likelihood of developing conditions such as retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, cataract, and glaucoma later in life. Research has drastically advanced over the past ten years or so. The use of overnight contact lenses, soft multifocal daytime contact lenses and pharmaceutical therapy have proven effective in halting the progression of myopia. The younger your child is and the earlier we intervene, the greater the impact we will have in minimizing the impact of myopia on your child’s life.