November 26, 2019
Myopia is an extremely common refractive eye condition and the leading cause of patient reliance on prescription eyewear including glasses and contact lenses. Many patients with myopia also undergo laser vision correction so that they can enjoy clear vision without needing glasses or contacts. Myopia is also known as near-sightedness, and this is because patients with the condition can see objects close to them clearly, but those further away appear blurred and hard to see. Myopia is a progressive treatment, meaning that your vision will get worse without treatment.
In recent years, studies have found that myopia can be controlled to a certain extent. These treatments have grown in popularity, particularly amongst parents of young children. Myopia is on the rise amongst children, and more than ever are being diagnosed with this condition. But why is myopia control so important?
Put simply, myopia control is important because it could help to significantly reduce your risk of developing vision-threatening complications associated with high levels of myopia in later life. Some of the risks that you face when your myopia isn’t controlled include:
A 1000% increased chance that you will experience retinal detachment. This is where the retina comes away from the layer beneath it. Symptoms include an increase in the number of floating shapes in your vision, flashes of light and eye pain. Without treatment, permanent vision loss is very likely.
Patients with severe myopia have almost a 300% increased chance of developing glaucoma. This ocular condition is caused by an increase of intraocular pressure that damages the blood vessels serving the retina. Glaucoma develops slowly, making it difficult to detect. When symptoms appear, they usually include blurred vision or rainbow-colored circles around bright lights. Some people may develop a type of glaucoma that comes on very suddenly and causes intense eye pain. Glaucoma can lead to loss of vision if it’s not diagnosed and treated early.
Studies have found that highly myopic patients are more likely to develop macular degeneration. Macular degeneration, or as it is better known age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is an eye condition that affects the middle part of your vision. As its name suggests, it occurs as a result of advancing age and the natural deterioration of the part of the eye called the macula. The macula is the part of the retina at the very back of the eye and is responsible for sending signals to the brain to turn them into images. Symptoms of AMD include blurred vision, seeing straight lines as wavy or bent, colors looking less bright than before and hallucinations. There are two types of AMD. The most common can’t be treated, but vision aids can help to reduce the effect that it has on your life. The rarer form may be able to be treated using eye injections and light therapy.
If you have moderate to severe myopia, you could also have a greater chance of developing cataracts. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye develops cloudy patches. This happens when the proteins that are naturally occurring within the eye begin to clump together, giving the sufferer vision like looking through frosted glass. Aside from visual disturbances, cataracts don’t really cause any symptoms. Whilst their progression can be slowed, eventually, all patients will find that their vision is considerably compromised. Many then choose to have the natural lens of the eye replaced with an artificial alternative.
Although there are several different ways in which you can halt or slow the progression of myopia, orthokeratology is becoming the most popular and effective treatment. Also known as ortho-k, orthokeratology involves wearing customized contact lenses that are designed specifically to reshape your cornea whilst you sleep. The gentle force exerted onto the cornea doesn’t hurt, and it is perfectly safe to wear your contacts whilst you sleep. Patients can remove their ortho-k lenses the next morning and see clearly without the need for glasses or contact lenses during the day. Then it is just a case of popping them back in again at night so that the reshaping can continue. Persistent use is needed for your corneas to be able to retain their shape for the full day. However, the treatment is reversible so should you stop using the lenses, your eyesight will return to how it was before. Ortho-k can be used by virtually all patients, including children.
For more information about the importance of myopia control, please contact Modern iCare Optometry in Palm Desert, CA today where our team is ready and waiting to help you and your family enjoy healthy eyes and clear vision.