What is myopia?
Myopia is one of the most common diseases of the eye. It is often called “nearsightedness”. Myopic people cannot see far away. Highly nearsighted people cannot see farther than 1 foot from their faces. People become myopic when their eyes grow abnormally long. The more myopic a person the longer and more stretched their eye. The younger a child begins developing myopia, the more likely they will become highly and dangerously myopic.
Currently we are in the middle of a myopia epidemic. Children are becoming more and more nearsighted. In the last 20 years, the prevalence of myopia has increased from 21% to 46% of all U.S. adults. This is even worse in other parts of the world such as China.
Why is increasing myopia harmful
Retinal Disease: When the eye becomes more nearsighted, the retina stretches. This poses a a risk for future detached retina, retinal degeneration, macular holes, and glaucoma. These can result in blindness.
Social: Myopic children can be the victims of prejudice.. If a child looks different they may be shunned. Children with thick glasses are often picked last for sport activities and friendship cliques. This can have a big effect on the rest of their lives.
Emotional: When a child is different (such as wearing thick glasses), they are often ridiculed or bullied.
Financial: Later in life when applying for jobs, a person with very thick glasses may be passed over simply because of their appearance.
What are the risk factors for developing myopia?
- Genetics: If a child has one parent who is myopic, they have twice the risk of developing myopia compared to children whose parents are not myopic. But if both parents are myopic, the risk is three times.. Further, the more nearsighted the parents, the bigger the risk for their children.
- Use of glasses or soft lenses. Using full time glasses or soft contact lenses can increase the rate of worsening myopia.
- Behavior: Television, use of computer, video games and long hours reading has been associated with an increase in nearsightedness.
- Lack of Outdoor Activity: People (especially children) who spend little time outdoors are likely to become very myopic.
- Ethnicity/Genetics: The percentage of East Asian people with myopia is much higher than Caucasians.
- Eye Muscle Control: We find that children with overactive eye muscles become myopic at an earlier age.
Why do we want to slow/control myopia?
Because it is harmful to your child’s eye health and emotional well-being.
What can you do to reduce their risk of developing myopia?
Insure that they have an annual eye exam. We will detect the early signs of developing myopia and immediately begin measures to slow or stop its progression.
What can you do if they are diagnosed as being nearsighted?
If we determine that your child is developing myopia or their myopia is increasing, we will customize a program that will use all the latest techniques available to slow myopia. We may rely on orthokeratology (link), pharmaceutical drops and behavioral programs.