Myopia, or nearsightedness, affects 6.3 million Australians (AIHW). People living with this condition struggle to see things clearly that are further away. Myopia rates are increasing in both children and adults, and some call it a “silent epidemic”, especially considering the high rate of Australians living with the condition.
Your eye doctor in Melbounre, South Yarra, Malvern and beyond can help diagnose and treat the problem, with treatments including Lasik eye surgery often proving beneficial for patients.
But what exactly is myopia? And how can you take care of your eyes in everyday life to help prevent it from becoming a serious issue?
Let’s take a look at this incredibly common condition below so that you can understand if you are at risk and what you can do to slow or prevent its progress.
What is myopia?
Myopia is caused when the eye’s cornea is too curved or an eyeball is too long. Both of these issues prevent light entering from being seen clearly and focused on properly. This causes blurry vision of objects that aren’t closer to the person viewing them (nearsightedness means you can see objects clearer up close, but not as well when further away).
Myopia generally starts to develop in kids between the ages of three and 12, and the condition can continue to develop up to the age of 20. There are a range of theories as to why myopia rates are increasing amongst children, with scientists pointing toward the following:
- Screen use
- Pre-existing health problems
Screen time could truly be one of the main reasons by increasing rates of myopia. More and more kids are using screens every day and for more hours in the day, and many optometrists believe that children using too many screens for too long throughout the day could be the problem. But the theory isn’t necessarily regarding the lights of the screen – the theory is that children are using their vision to see things that are right in front of them, and not things over a distance, potentially making their eyes lazy when it comes to viewing things over a distance.
If your child is experiencing myopia, it could be difficult for them or yourself to notice it. This is because your child might be accommodating for the problem and seeing it as “normal”, especially when close-up tech use is such a common part of everyday life. But it’s important to look out for things like headaches, dipping school performance, squinting and holding objects closer to view them.
The optimal way to determine whether your child is suffering with the condition is to take them to have their eyes examined. These are more so preventative visits that could be vital for catching the issue early on and could help your child’s eye doctor to slow or prevent the issue.
There are two objectives of myopia control: slow or completely halt the condition’s progression in your child. This is vital as it can develop into further vision problems further down the track, including cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment.
For children’s myopia, the following treatments are recommended:
- Atropine eye drops
- Multifocal eyeglasses
- Multifocal contact lenses
For myopia in adults, treatments such as Lasik eye surgery can be hugely beneficial for the patient.
Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is a treatment in which your child’s cornea is reshaped using gas permeable contacts lenses that are to be worn at night.
Your eye doctor will usually start with a more conservative treatment like eyedrops or corrective lenses. Ortho-K may be introduced if the problem isn’t immediately dealt with. Ortho-K is non-invasive and most children are happy with the treatment’s process.