Myopia is a progressive visual disorder where objects nearby or a short distance away are clear but objects that are far away are blurred. Myopia is also known as “near-sighted” or “short-sighted.” People with myopia can have difficulty clearly seeing a movie or TV screen or the whiteboard in school. If the myopia is severe, it will impair near vision as well. Signs and symptoms of myopia include squinting, eye strain and headaches. Feeling fatigued when driving or playing sports also can be a symptom of uncorrected nearsightedness. In a recent study, researchers found that myopia has increased 66 percent in the United States from 1971 to 2004.
What causes myopia?
While the exact cause of myopia is unknown, there is significant evidence that many people inherit myopia, or at least the tendency to develop myopia. If one or both parents are nearsighted, there is an increased chance their children will be nearsighted. Even though the tendency to develop myopia may be inherited, its actual development may be affected by how a person uses his or her eyes. Individuals who spend considerable time reading, working at a computer, or doing other intense close visual work may be more likely to develop myopia.
What are the dangers of myopia?
Myopia is one of the leading causes of blindness around the world. Myopia not only weakens vision, but it also causes changes to the physical structure of the eye. These changes increase the risk of future eye diseases. If left uncontrolled, myopia results in a higher incidence of complications such as retinal tears and detachments, glaucoma, cataracts, and a reduced quality of life.
How is myopia corrected?
Nearsightedness can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. Although these options provide clear distance vision, it does not slow the progression of the condition.
What Options Are There to Slow Down the Development of Myopia in Children?
Although an outright cure for nearsightedness has not been discovered, your eye doctor can now offer a number of treatments that may be able to slow the progression of myopia.
These treatments can induce changes in the structure and focusing of the eye to reduce stress and fatigue associated with the development and progression of nearsightedness.
Currently, four types of treatment are showing promise for controlling myopia:
Atropine eye drops
Multifocal contact lenses
What is Ortho-K?
Orthokeratology lenses, which are customized contact lens molds, are worn each night and removed each morning. The molding that occurs overnight allows for clear vision at all distances during the day without glasses or daytime contact lenses. The lenses are comfortable and do not interfere with sleep. The molds last approximately a year and are worn as long as myopia progression is considered a risk or until freedom from daytime lens correction is no longer desired. Orthokeratology has many peer-reviewed, randomized and some longitudinal studies that show it is an effective and safe treatment to reduce the progression of myopia and, in many cases, halt it altogether.
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