Myopia, or more commonly known as short-sightedness, is a vision condition where people are able to clearly view objects that are near, but are unable to see objects that are far.
The onset of myopia usually occurs before the ages of 12 and stabilises into adulthood. Sadly, there is no cure for myopia but there are measures you can take to slow down its progression.
To better understand this condition we spoke to eye care experts HOYA Consultant Optometrist Darren Toh, HOYA Professional Affair Assistant Manager Chris Toh and HOYA Professional Affair Executive Chong Ching Wei.
Here is a rundown on myopia 101.
Myopia is a condition that occurs when the eyeball is too long or the cornea is overly curved. Because of this factor, light is unable to enter the eye which results to blurry objects in the distance.
Darren states that the causes of myopia are also multifactorial, stating that the three main risks factors are associated with the gene pool, hereditary and excessive amount of near tasks.
“People with myopia have difficulty in seeing things like blackboards, when driving, or TV screens,” he said.
Who is more likely to be myopic?
Myopia generally begins at a young age. Due to this, children are more prone to myopia and it progresses as they grow – it is the most common cause of impaired vision in people under the ages of 40.
According to Chris, research revealed that half of the world could potentially be myopic by 2050 with an estimated 4.758billion people globally, while 938million people will have high myopia.
“Normally people who wear spectacles are people who study a lot – kids, usually. Nowadays all the kids are wearing specs. This is due to lifestyle changes such as exposure to digital devices such as parents letting their kids play with phones, and mobile games,” he said.
Take the right steps in preventing rapid progression of myopia.
What are the preventive measures can parents take?
The prevalence of Myopia in children is growing at an alarming rate. However, while myopia cannot be cured, it can be corrected or slowed down. Note that, there is a difference between correcting it and slowing down its progression. Correcting is using immediate measures such as fitting spectacles, or contact lenses to clear the vision – this does not mean your child’s myopia will not progress.
“Myopia can’t really be treated or cured, but we are merely correcting it. Myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, Ortho-K or refractive surgery. With the alarming rate of increased prevalence of Myopia in children, we are focusing on how to control and slow down the progression of Myopia,” said Darren.
He noted currently, there is no 100 percent effective way to prevent myopia but the onset can be slowed down or delayed by controlling the amount of time conducting near tasks. To control this, it is advised to take regular breaks in between when looking at devices or television screens.
How can you slow down the progression of myopia?
Depending on the individual, the progression of Myopia may be more aggressive in some, while others have a slower progression. To slow down its progression, there are specialised technology that have been curated for this. Furthermore, effectively reducing the rate of myopia progression by 50% could reduce the prevalence of high myopia by up to 90%.
HOYA has launched their MiyoSmart Lens which is made especially for those with myopia. These lenses uses a natural homeostatic mechanism known as “emmetropization”, where the eyeball adapts and shapes to receive focused images as it does for normal vision.
With the special D.I.M.S technology, these lenses provide light and thin UV protection for the eyes and are made with highly impact-resistant polycarbonate material, made ideal for active kids from 6 to 18 years. Hence, it will not break easily, especially with active kids.
HOYA had conducted a two-year randomised double-blind clinical trial involving 160 myopic children aged between 8 to 13, where 60 per cent of the cases reduced their myopia while 21.5 per cent experienced a halt in their Myopia progression!
How can you detect Myopia?
The main way to do this is through a proper eye test. Parents, especially, should take their kids to eye appointments at least once a year. This way, if they have signs of Myopia, parents can take measures to make sure it does not worsen.
Send your child for regular eye checkups.
“Myopia always shows onset among children. There is no specific age that it happen, but generally, it starts occurring before the age of 12 and it will stabilises into adulthood, “ said Darren.
He noted that parents should act immediately if their child complains of blurred vision, as catching it early can reduce the risk of catching high myopia.
What is the worst case scenario?
According to Darren, the worst case is that Myopia progresses to a prescription of more than -6.00. This is known as high myopia, which is a more serious form of the condition where the eyeball grows more than it is supposed to and becomes very long from front to back.
Myopia can also raise risks of having other conditions like a retinal detachment and glaucoma. Another concern is degenerative myopia, also known as pathological myopia, which is when it is inherited from their parents – this is when the eyeball gets longer quicker and causes severe myopia during the teenage or early adult years.
This is worrying as it makes it harder to view things at a distance and those affected are at higher risk of a detached retina, as well as abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye.