Myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness, is a common refractive error. Several factors can influence its progression, and understanding these can help with myopia control.
Myopia is a complex condition that can worsen due to genetics, screen time, limited outdoor activities, underlying health conditions, and environmental factors.
What Is Myopia?
Myopia is a refractive error that causes light entering the eye to refract (bend) incorrectly. For our eyes to process clear images, light must land exactly on the retina—the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. However, myopia makes the light land in front of the retina instead, causing distant objects to appear blurry and out of focus.
The blurred vision associated with myopia stems from an irregularity in the eye’s shape. Either the eye grows too long, or the cornea, the clear, domed surface, is too steep. These structural issues prevent light from bending correctly in the eye, leading to myopia.
What Causes Myopia?
The exact cause of myopia is unknown, but it’s likely a result of a complex interplay of several factors, including genetics and lifestyle. Myopia generally begins in childhood and progresses as the eyes grow, often stabilizing in early adulthood.
What Makes Myopia Worse?
Several factors contribute to the worsening of myopia.
If one or both parents are nearsighted, there’s a higher chance their children will develop myopia.
The rise in digital device use, particularly among children, is often linked with myopia development.
Less Time Outdoors
Studies suggest that children who spend more time outdoors have a lower risk of developing myopia. Natural light exposure and looking at distant objects help regulate eye growth.
Certain health conditions, like diabetes, can increase the risk of vision problems, including worsening myopia.
Factors like poor lighting and prolonged periods of detailed, close-up work can worsen myopia.
Lack of Vision Care
Regular eye exams can detect myopia early, and appropriate corrective measures can prevent it from worsening.
Options for Myopia Control
Research indicates multiple effective methods for controlling myopia, particularly while the eyes are still growing. These methods aim to slow down or halt the progression of myopia, preserving vision and reducing the risk of future eye health issues.
Each of these methods offers unique advantages and should be considered under the guidance of an eye care professional.
Here are some highly effective myopia control strategies:
- Low-dose atropine drops: Used as a topical eye treatment, low-dose atropine drops have shown effectiveness in controlling myopia in children between 8 and 18. The drops work by temporarily halting the eye’s growth.
- Peripheral defocus contact lenses: These are specialty contact lenses with a clear center and outer rings that blur peripheral vision. This design is based on the theory that blurred side vision can slow the growth of myopia. It aims to provide clear central vision while controlling eye elongation.
- Orthokeratology (ortho-k) contact lenses: Ortho-k contact lenses reshape the cornea overnight. When removed in the morning, they leave the wearer with clear vision. While this effect is temporary—the eye will revert to its original shape if the lenses are discontinued—regular ortho-k use has been shown to slow myopia in children.
Tips to Prevent Myopia from Getting Worse
Living with myopia requires a proactive approach to eye health. It’s not just about managing the symptoms; it’s about taking steps to prevent the condition from worsening. Here are some practical strategies for you to consider:
- Invest in corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses: Proper vision correction can help manage myopia and prevent it from worsening.
- Limit screen time: Encourage regular breaks from digital devices to reduce eye strain. The 20-20-20 rule can help provide a break from prolonged screen time.
- Spend more time outside: Encouraging outdoor activities can help prevent myopia progression.
- Use protective eyewear: Protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays can also help.
- Stay consistent with eye exams: Regular eye exams can help detect vision changes early.
Understanding the factors that cause myopia is the first step in effective myopia control. It’s important to be aware of these triggers and take proactive steps to manage them.
Regular eye exams with a trusted eye doctor play a significant role in the early detection and treatment of myopia. With timely intervention, we can slow its progression and help you maintain good eye health.
At Total Vision Rancho Bernardo, we’re committed to providing exceptional care and advanced myopia control methods. We believe in empowering our patients with knowledge and tools to manage their eye health effectively.
Book an eye exam with us today and take the first step towards better vision and improved quality of life.