Now you have one more reason to spend more time outdoors: to prevent myopia.
Myopia has become a common condition among Americans. According to the National Eye Institute, about 40% of Americans have myopia, a significant increase from 25% in the 1970s. The trend is going upward such that myopia has become a concerning national health issue.
Around the world, people appear to be getting more nearsighted, too. Projections indicate that myopia may occur in one out of two people by 2050.
Statistics may be grim, but your vision doesn’t have to be. At Focus Eye Care & Surgery, our New York eye specialist, Dr. Neelofar Ghaznawi, is a board-certified cornea surgeon highly experienced in performing refractive surgery. She is a member of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons.
What is myopia?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is an error in how the eyes bend light, causing distant objects to look blurred.
For the eyes to see clearly at any distance, incoming light rays must be focused on a single point on the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eyes, or the retina.
Nearsightedness occurs because light rays are focused in front of the retina, instead of on it.
What causes myopia?
Myopia is caused by how the eye is structured, which in turn affect its refractive ability. This is why myopia is called a refractive error of the eye, not a disease. Myopia happens when:
- the eyeball, from front to back, is longer than normal.
- the shape of the cornea, or the clear surface layer of the eyes, is too curved.
- the focusing power of the natural lens is too strong. It’s not able to easily flatten to accommodate viewing distant objects.
Myopia may be passed on from parent to children. The condition starts to develop in childhood, usually from ages 8 to 12. In adolescence, myopia may get worse, and it can’t be outgrown (unlike hyperopia or farsightedness) as the child enters young adulthood.
Some studies indicate that not enough time spent outside during childhood and too much near work may bring out myopia in some people.
This is why it’s essential for children to get a comprehensive eye exam early. The goal is to promptly correct myopia and avoid complications. Schedule a consultation with Focus Eye Care & Surgery today to find out how you can enjoy clearer distance vision and stop myopia from getting worse.
What are the complications of myopia?
Severe myopia (or high myopia) puts people at greater risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
High myopia may also lead to detached retina where the retina pulls away from its normal position and results in significantly reduced vision. If discovered early, retinal detachment may be remedied by surgery.
How is myopia diagnosed?
Visual acuity tests are the first line of diagnostic tool to check if you have normal vision. The eye doctor will have you read a series of letters on a chart placed at the end of the wall. This will help determine if your vision is normal or not.
If the eye specialist suspects you have myopia, he or she may use specialized tools to achieve accurate diagnosis.
A retinoscope is used to shine a special light inside your eye so the doctor can see how light bounces off your retina. A lens is placed in front of your eyes until the doctor determines each eye’s refractive error.
Looking like a space-visor, a phoropter works similarly but faster, as it checks both eyes at the same time. This enables the eye doctor to evaluate your binocular vision (how your eyes work together) and eye muscle coordination.
The phoropter allows the eye specialist to determine the exact lens shape and curvature that would correct your myopia.
What are the treatment options for myopia?
- Prescription eyeglasses
The simplest and safest way to correct myopia is through prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses that are concave in shape. These lenses are thinner in the center and thicker at the edges. This shape diverges light rays so distant objects can be seen clearly.
To avoid the inconvenience of eyeglasses or contact lenses, some people opt for a more permanent solution through surgery.
As the cornea is too curved in a myopic eye, the goal of refractive surgery is to make it less steep. This is achieved by removing the flap of the cornea, taking out just the right thickness of the innermost tissue to achieve the right shape. Then the flap of the outer tissue is put back in position to heal.
- Intracorneal rings or intraocular lens (IOL) implants
Cornea surgeons may also implant “intacs” or intracorneal rings that reshape the curvature of the cornea. Or they may insert an intraocular lens (IOL) in front of your natural lens, leaving the natural lens intact. The IOL may also be implanted in place of the natural lens, with multifocal points so you are able to see clearly at any distance.