Myopia, better known as near-sightedness, is an extremely common visual condition which is characterized by being able to see objects close to you clearly but experiencing blurriness and distorted vision when you try to look at objects that are further away. The number of patients being diagnosed with myopia is continuing to rise, and it is one of the most commonly-cited reasons for patients to opt for treatments such as laser eye surgery.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges with myopia is that if it isn’t corrected, your capabilities to see clearly at distance can get progressively worse. If this happens, you will find your reliance on prescription eyewear increases and the strength of the lenses needed to correct your vision will also become more and more significant. Myopia control methods can be used at any age, but they are increasingly recommended for children so that they don’t experience severe vision problems as they enter adulthood.
Myopia occurs when the eyes grow slightly longer than is optimal. When this happens, the light that enters your eye doesn’t focus properly on the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the very back of your eye. Instead, the light is refracted by the cornea so that it focuses just in front of the retina, causing distant objects to appear blurred.
It is often not known why some people develop myopia and others don’t. However, there are some factors which can make someone at greater risk of experiencing myopia during their lifetime. These include:
A family history of myopia
Spending too little time outdoors
Spending a lot of time focusing on nearby objects such as a computer screen or hand-held device
The latter is believed to be one of the key reasons for the increase in the number of people, especially adolescents, being diagnosed with myopia. Screen time is at an all-time high, and eye doctors are working hard to raise awareness of the impact that it can have on eye health and function.
With more people than ever being diagnosed with myopia, it is unsurprising that eyecare professionals are investing a great deal of time and effort into finding ways to control it and limit its progression. Fortunately, there are a number of different things that have shown to have a positive impact in slowing myopia symptoms and enabling patients to enjoy clearer distance-vision for longer. These include the following:
Often easier said than done, especially if you use a computer or hand-held device for work but limiting screen time is one of the best things that you can do for your eye health. When we look at a screen, we blink far less often than we do usually. This causes eyes to dry out and many patients develop dry eye syndrome, another potentially debilitating eye problem. However, many studies have found that by limiting the amount of time you spend looking at a screen and ensuring that you take regular breaks for your eyes to focus on something further away, you can control and even reduce symptoms of myopia.
When you spend a great deal of time inside, you aren’t experiencing a great deal of natural light. Most of us don’t get the optimal amount of vitamin D anyway, but since components of sunlight activate vitamin D which potentially plays an important role in eye growth, getting outside to enjoy the sunshine and allow your eyes to focus on objects far away is extremely beneficial for your eye health.
In addition to some lifestyle changes, there are also four other types of treatment that can potentially be beneficial in controlling myopia. These include the following:
Atropine eye drops. These work by relaxing the eye’s focusing mechanism to help reduce focus fatigue – a common problem amongst patients with myopia.
Orthokeratology. This effective treatment involves wearing specially-designed permeable contact lenses overnight that temporarily reshape the cornea so that nearsightedness is corrected. By wearing them overnight, the correction persists during the day so that no prescription eyewear is needed.
Multifocal contact lenses or eyeglasses. These special lenses have different prescription powers in different parts of the lens, enabling patients to see clearly at different distances. Multifocal lenses have also been found to be an effective tool for myopia control.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from myopia and you would like to learn more about effective myopia control, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Tri-City Optometry where one of our experienced eye care team would be happy to assist you (510) 602-2020.