What is Myopia?
As an optometrist, I’m trained to detect and treat vision and eye health problems on a daily basis. When someone asks about which eye problems are the most common I instantly start talking about glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts, and often don’t really give the “basic” problems of myopia, hyperopia and presbyopia much thought, because these are “just” focusing problems which are easily corrected with spectacles or contact lenses. The reality is that these focusing defects are by far the most common sight conditions and of the three, myopia in particular is commonly a progressive condition with a variety of potential sequelae. Myopia is when you can see closer objects very clearly but far away they are blurred. Generally, it is caused by an eyeball that is too long, and this increase in axial length can also cause problems like retinal thinning. Over a billion people around the world are estimated to suffer with myopia. Researchers now believe that the clarity of peripheral vision is a very important regulator in the growth of the eye and hence myopia development. If the peripheral vision is myopic, the eye is less likely to become more myopic in the central vision, so new techniques aimed at creating peripheral myopia have become important in the prevention of myopic progression.
5 Steps for Myopia Control
For many years, a simple prescription update (“just a bit stronger today”) has been the standard of care in dealing with myopia. However, new research is showing that there are several methods of treatment that can slow or prevent the progression of myopia particularly if they are started young. None of the therapies are guaranteed to work for each individual but starting early gives the greatest potential benefit. Every individual case is indeed unique, however there is now a viable treatment plan steps of action that can be followed that have been shown to slow or prevent progression. The following steps should be followed:
- Spend plenty of time outdoors for at least two hours a day, and avoid prolonged periods of close work.
- No studies directly link diet and myopia, however it is reasonable to recommend a nutrient rich diet with minimal refined and processed foods.
- Ortho-K (orthokeratology) is currently the best treatment option for correction and myopia control.
- Bifocal contact lenses with a distance centre design are the next best correction option for myopia control.
- Specialised spectacle corrections: usually bifocal or multifocal designs which are designed to give optimal distance vision and relieve near point stress.
There is no benefit to waiting as the best results seem to come with the earliest intervention. Therefore, anyone who is myopic (short-sighted) should be asking their optometrist about the latest treatment options. All Envision Optical optometrists are passionate about myopia control and using the latest technologies to PREVENT vision changes, not just “go a bit stronger” in your new lenses.