Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a refractive condition where the eye is unable to focus images clearly without glasses or contact lenses. During myopia progression, the eye grows longer. Studies now show there is more to worry about with myopic eyes than the inconvenience of ever-thickening lenses. Scientific evidence has proven that myopic patients are more vulnerable to a range of sight-threatening diseases and complications.
Patients with mild myopia have a four-fold increase in the risk of retinal detachment. For those with moderate to severe myopia, the risk increases ten times. One study concluded that more than 50 percent of retinal detachments not related to trauma are associated with myopia. Other myopia risks include:
- Retinal Detachment
- Retinal Atrophy
- Retinal tears and breaks
Prevention of high myopia reduces the risk of future complications.
What Can You Do?
There are four main treatments that studies show work to reduce myopia progression. They are listed below in order of decreasing efficacy:
- Low dose atropine eye drops (59% Reduction)
- Soft multifocal contact lenses (49% Reduction)
- Orthokeratology (43% Reduction)
- Increased sun exposure (23% Reduction)
What Do We Do in Our Office?
During our vision exams, we determine if the patient is at risk for myopia progression. We use a number of factors, including refractive state, changes in vision, family history, age as well as others to decide if treatment is appropriate. If we decide to treat, with contact lenses or eye drops, it is customary to see the patient every 3 months to follow up and adjust treatment as necessary.
While contact lenses and atropine are the most effective, regardless of if we decide to treat, we recommend everyone gets at least 7 hours per week outside. Studies have shown that UV and violet light may help slow myopia progression. Of course, the downside to sun exposure is the risk of skin cancer and cataracts. For this reason, we recommend the use of sun screen and sunglasses. It is not known if sun protection negates the effects on myopia prevention, but should not be ignored.