There has been a lot of talk lately in mainstream media about Myopia and whether or not it is an epidemic?
A recent article from the Sydney Morning Herald stated:
“New projections from the Brien Holden Vision Institute predicting 46 per cent of the world’s population would be myopic in the next 35 years was cause for great concern…More than 1.45 billion people around the world currently suffer from myopia, with the number estimated to rise to approximately 4 billion by 2050, according to the institute’s chief executive Brien Holden.”
So what is Myopia and what are the signs?
WHAT IS MYOPIA?
Myopia, commonly called shortsightedness, is a condition in which light is focussed in front of the retina, resulting in blurred vision. Shortsighted people usually see clearly at short distances, but will not be able to see distant objects clearly. There is currently no cure for myopia, but traditionally spectacles, and contact lenses and even refractive surgery can all provide good distance vision for people with myopia.
HOW COMMON IS MYOPIA?
It is a very common condition. About 15 per cent of the Australian population is shortsighted. This number is increasing. In many Asian countries more than 80% of the population is myopic. Usually myopia begins to develop in teenage years and it may get worse over the following few years.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I AM SHORTSIGHTED?
Shortsighted people have difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly. They find it hard to read road signs and scoreboards and to play ball games. Recognising people in the distance may be a problem for many shortsighted people. Often a person will not realise that they cannot see clearly but an eye examination by an optometrist will reveal the problem.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CHILD IS SHORTSIGHTED?
A complete eye test is the only sure way of determining whether your child’s vision is normal. Some clues to myopia in a child are:
screwing up eyes to see distant objects
difficulty reading the blackboard at school
poor posture while reading
lack of interest in playing outdoor games
WHAT CAUSES MYOPIA?
The exact causes of myopia are not known. At various times people have blamed excessive amounts of reading, poor metabolism, poor diet, poor light, poor posture and genetic factors. Recent research has shown that the development of myopia is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors: that is, many hours of close work looking at screens each day will drive development. In fact recent findings from the International Society for Eye Research suggest that spending 14 hours or more outdoors per week can reduce myopia by up to one third.
CAN MYOPIA BE CURED?
Despite ongoing research, a cure for myopia has not yet been found. Properly prescribed spectacles or contact lenses will enable a person with myopia to see clearly. Ortho-K correction therapy has been shown to slow the progression of myopia in children by up to 80%. Soft bifocal contact lenses can also slow down progression effectively by 50% or more. At Envision optical we can advise you about the latest developments and whether they would be suitable for you.
CAN MYOPIA BE PREVENTED?
There is no certain prevention for myopia, however as mentioned above recent research has found that ortho-k therapy, soft bifocal contact lenses and atropine eye drops may slow the progression of myopia. There is also strong evidence that children that over converge when reading can be more prone to developing myopia, so appropriate spectacles to relieve this can help as well.
The late Professor Brien Holden the world leader in myopia prevention, advised, “eye check ups and appropriate treatments in slowing the progress of myopia were crucial in reducing the prevalence of higher stages of impairment. One of the most important things is to get the message out that every child going into secondary school, and preferably every child going into primary school, should go get their eyes examined. This will give the opportunity for parents to find out if their child is shortsighted and to take measures.”