Myopia or nearsightedness is a common vision problem afflicting millions of people worldwide. It’s a refractive error that makes distant objects appear blurry while objects nearby remain clear.
While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, myopia increases your risks of vision-threatening eye diseases.
Myopia itself doesn’t cause vision loss, but eye diseases like myopic macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal detachment can permanently damage your vision.
What Is Myopia?
Myopia occurs when the eyes grow too long or the cornea becomes too steep, which causes light to fall short of the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that collects visual information and sends it to the brain via the optic nerve. If light lands in front of the retina, distant images appear blurry and out of focus.
The number of people with nearsightedness is increasing globally, and with it are concerns about the risks it brings.
What Is High Myopia?
Unmanaged myopia can lead to high myopia, which occurs when the eyeball’s elongation reaches a certain level. High myopia is generally characterized as severe nearsightedness requiring a prescription of -5.00 dioptres (D) or higher.
High myopia is associated with several eye disorders, such as retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, and glaucoma. These conditions can lead to permanent partial or complete vision loss.
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the back of the eye, causing vision loss or blindness. In high myopia, the risk of retinal detachment is higher because the retina is stretched thin, making it more prone to tearing or separation.
Symptoms can be sudden and include:
- Darkening shadows in your central and peripheral vision
- Sudden increase of many floaters across your vision
- Flashes of light
Retinal detachment can be treated. If you experience these symptoms, call or visit your optometrist immediately.
Myopic Macular Degeneration
Myopic macular degeneration (MMD) occurs when the retina’s central portion, called the macula, deteriorates, leading to central vision loss. High myopia is a significant risk factor for MMD, which, in some cases, may be irreversible.
You may not experience early signs of MMD, but as the condition advances, you can develop symptoms like:
- Wavy lines in your vision
- Distorted vision
- Gradually declining vision
- Blank spots in your vision
- Difficulty adjusting to light
- Muted colors
- Poor low-light vision
It’s easy to assume these symptoms are simply products of myopia, but they can indicate a more serious issue. You should visit your optometrist for annual eye exams to assess your eyes and identify problems with the macula.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. In high myopia, the risk of glaucoma is considerably higher. Open-angle glaucoma is among the most common and primary causes of vision loss among adults.
There are no early symptoms of glaucoma, and it may not be apparent to you until you experience vision loss. Annual eye exams can monitor your eyes for warning signs. With early detection, your optometrist can help you manage the condition and help prevent vision loss.
How to Support High Myopia
Maintaining healthy eyes requires healthy habits, whether you have myopia or clear vision.
Get Frequent Eye Exams
Regular comprehensive eye exams are crucial for identifying and treating myopia in its early stages. Myopia control intervention can help set children up for healthy vision in adulthood. Eye doctors recommend scheduling children’s eye examinations every year to detect changes as your child’s eyes grow.
During an eye exam, your optometrist will evaluate visual acuity, eye pressure, and retina health, providing recommendations to prevent high myopia.
Slowing myopia progression in children and adolescents can help prevent severe eye damage that can lead to vision loss. Some proven myopia control methods to help preserve healthy vision include:
- Low-dose atropine eye drops
- Soft contact lenses
- Orthokeratology contact lenses
Limit Screen Time
Too much screen time can heighten the risk of developing myopia. Close vision tasks can cause the eye to elongate, so it’s essential, especially for kids with growing eyes, to limit screen time outside of school and homework.
Spend Time Outdoors
Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can lower the risk of developing myopia. The natural light and wide-open spaces help the eyes focus on distant objects, which can prevent the eyes from growing too long.
Encourage children to play outside and adults to take regular outdoor breaks. 2 hours a day of outdoor activity can significantly reduce the risk of developing high myopia.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A nutritious, well-rounded diet can help support the eyes’ overall health. Recommended foods are those rich in:
- Vitamins A, C, and E
- Lutein and zeaxanthin
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- B Vitamins
Address Myopia Early
If you’re experiencing signs of myopia or eye conditions related to high myopia, addressing them early can help preserve your eye health and vision. For children and adolescents with myopia, the team at Total Vision Rancho Bernardo can suggest myopia control methods to help slow myopia progression.
Your eye exam can help support your vision with an updated prescription. Wearing the correct prescription glasses can help keep your eyes comfortable and your vision clear. Schedule an eye exam at Total Vision Rancho Bernardo to get the proper care for your eyes.