How Can One Correct Myopia?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is an eye condition where people can see nearby objects clearly but struggle to see things that are farther away. For instance, someone with myopia will be able to make out the words in a book effortlessly but may experience blurry vision when trying to read a whiteboard at school, watch a movie at the theater, or read far-off signs on the highway. In this post, we will seek to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about myopia, to help people struggling with this condition understand what the prognosis and treatment pathways may be.
- What is the leading cause of myopia?
Myopia is a prevalent condition. It is the most common cause of impaired vision for people under the age of 40. According to the American Optometric Association, myopia affects nearly 30 percent of the United States population. The prevalence of myopia is also growing, and global research indicates there has been a gradual uptick in myopia figures since the year 2000; predictions now suggest that roughly half of the world’s population may suffer from myopia by the year 2050.
The exact cause of myopia is unknown. There is some evidence that the condition is at least partially genetic. If one or both parents have myopia, there is a higher likelihood of their child developing the condition as well. The increasing incidence of myopia on a global scale also suggests that excessive screen time and limited time spent outdoors can also heighten the chances of developing the condition. For instance, studies have found that children who spend more time indoors and playing with screen devices (versus playing outside) are at a higher risk for myopia.
- Is myopia a disease?
Yes, myopia is a disease. It falls into a category of eye conditions known as “refractive errors.” A refractive error is typically the result of an eye that is too long, too short or bends light irregularly (in the case of astigmatism). In a healthy eye, the light will refract so that it focuses directly on the retina. In myopia, the refractive error causes the light to be focused in front of the retina. This error affects the eye’s ability to focus on distant objects.
- Can myopia be cured?
Currently, there is no true “cure” for myopia. No treatment can prevent myopia from developing or vanquish it permanently once it has manifested. However, there are several treatments that eye doctors can use to slow the progression of myopia (particularly for childhood patients) or to reduce the refractive error and assist with distance vision.
- Does myopia worsen with age?
Some myopia conditions hold relatively stable from year to year, while others worsen over time. Those that worsen fall into the category of “progressive myopia.” Over time, the eyeball may continue to elongate, thus causing the refractive error at the root of myopia to worsen. Typically, even those with progressive myopia will likely see the progression slow down or even stop eventually. Progressive myopia is especially common in children with the condition, whose eyes are still developing. This progression usually slows down or even stops around the age of 20, though some patients see progression continue into adulthood.
- Is it possible to treat myopia without surgery?
Yes. There are several treatments available to correct myopia, and several others available to slow down its progression. Both single vision glasses and contact lenses can correct myopia by reducing refractive error and moving the focus point of the eye back onto the retina. However, if a myopia management treatment is not implemented, myopia will continue to progress and worsen over time. At the Weston Contact Lens Institute, we recommend three different treatments to slow down the progression of myopia: corneal reshaping, or orthokeratology; multifocal soft lenses; and low-dose Atropine. We also recommend limiting close work (or work that involves focusing your eyes on computer screens or other nearby objects) and increasing the time spent outdoors.
- Which lens should a person with myopia use?
The best treatment for someone with myopia will depend on the person and the degree of refractive error. We often recommend the use of orthokeratology (or “ortho-K” lenses). Ortho-K lenses are worn overnight, during sleep, and are designed to reshape the surface of the eye gradually. When you wake up in the morning, you can remove the lenses and experience clear and unassisted vision throughout the day. Thus, provided you remember to insert the lenses each night, ortho-K can allow you to live a life relatively unaffected by myopia, even without the need for wearing glasses or contact lenses during the day. The various zones in the orthokeratology lenses reduce “hyperopic defocus” and therefore slow down the elongation of the eye and the progression of myopia.
Related Post: What Are My Options for Correcting Nearsightedness?
At Weston Contact Lens Institute, our job is to help you decide the best path forward for dealing with your myopia. Call today to schedule your appointment and eye exam.