Myopia and Eye Disease: The Connection
At South Coast Optometry, we understand that myopia (nearsightedness) is about more than just your child’s ability to see up-close. Study after study now indicates that myopia progression can do real long-term harm to your child’s eyes and vision. As your child’s myopia advances, their chances of developing serious sight-threatening eye diseases later in life can skyrocket.
Cataracts and Glaucoma
A child with medium to high myopia is 5 times more likely to develop cataracts or glaucoma as they get older. These are two of the leading worldwide causes of vision loss and blindness.
Cataracts occur due to protein build-up on the eye’s lens. This causes the lens to slowly lose clarity, becoming cloudy and making it difficult or impossible to see.
Glaucoma happens when fluid inside the eye begins to build up, placing pressure on the optic nerve and damaging it. This often begins to cause vision loss even before the patient notices symptoms.
If your child has a myopia prescription between -4.00 and -7.00, their chances of developing retinal detachment are 21 times more likely to develop retinal detachment than a child without. If their prescription is stronger than -7.00, their chances are a whopping 44 times higher!
This condition involves the photosensitive tissue at the back of the eye, known as the retina, detaching from the layers beneath it, causing light flashes, central vision loss, floaters and, in severe cases, total blindness.
Myopic Macular Degeneration
Myopia occurs as the eyeball grows and gets longer. In cases of very high myopia, the retina can begin to stretch and tear, damaging the macula and causing bleeding in the areas beneath the retina. If not treated properly, this can lead to significant vision loss, and even blindness.
Near Work And Myopia
These days, children spend a lot of time doing near work on digital devices like tablets and computers. Many eye care experts advise that this may be one of the leading factors in the recent spike in children with myopia.
Fortunately, with myopia management at our Costa Mesa eye care clinic, even children that have to spend hours in front of electronic screens every day can lower their risk of eye problems in the future.
How Does Near Work Contribute to Myopia?
Near work is defined as any activity that requires focusing on objects within arm’s reach from the eyes. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:
- Reading, especially small print or in low-light situations
- Watching TV or playing video games from a close distance
- Screen use (tablet, computer, smartphone, etc.)
These and similar activities have been shown to contribute to the development and progression of myopia when done in excess.
Fortunately, research shows that regular breaks can help prevent some or all of the detrimental impacts of these activities over time. Children who took those breaks outdoors were even better off, since outdoor activities have further been linked to a reduced risk of myopia and myopia progression.
When Should Myopia Management Start?
At South Coast Optometry we sometimes see parents that are hesitant to get their kids started on myopia management too early. If their child’s vision is just fine while wearing glasses or contacts, what’s the difference if their vision is a little better or worse? Why not wait a few years and see if their child really needs it?
The reality is that every year their child’s myopia worsens, their risk of eye disease increases. We offer myopia management starting with kids as young as 8 years old.
Want to learn more about how we can help your child keep their eyes healthy and their vision clear? Come visit us or give us a call today!Our practice serves patients from Costa Mesa, Orange County, Newport Beach, and Irvine, California and surrounding communities.