Understanding your myopia
When you’re caught short(-sighted)
Myopia, also known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness, is an eye condition where you do not see distance objects clearly. Myopia is very common: it usually begins in school-age children, and can progress until the eye stops growing. Adults can also develop myopia.
In the most common type of myopia, the actual eyeball elongates in shape. This stretches the retina and increases the risk of potentially vision-threatening eye conditions.
- Myopia increases your risk of early cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and myopic maculopathy.
- 1 in 4 myopes >-5.00D will develop myopic maculopathy in their lifetime.
Increased risk of eye conditions due to myopia
These factors increase the risk of myopia progression:
- family history (parents who are myopic)
- visual environment (amount of time spent looking up close/reading/iPad/light exposure)
- current refractive power (spectacle prescription, tested by your optometrist)
- eye teaming and focusing accuracy (binocular vision, tested by your optometrist).
Take an online quiz to get some indication of your risk, or your child’s risk, of myopia progression: http://myopia.care/
Reduce your chance of developing myopia, or myopia progression
Everyone can take certain precautions to reduce their risk of developing myopia or myopia progression.
Outdoor light: Getting your 90-minute fix every day is proven to reduce the risk of myopia. Remember, though, to take the usual precautions to avoid sunburn (we’re talking some funky Dresden sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen). Being outdoors encourages the eyes to focus in to the distance, relaxing the eye muscles required for focusing close up. Dopamine also appears to play a role in strengthening the structure of the eye, reducing the risk of the eye stretching.
20:20 rule: After every 20 minutes looking at the computer or your smartphone, take a 20-second break to look into the distance and relax your eyes. If what you see in the distance is blurry, take breaks more frequently!
Evening wind-down: Don’t do any near work, reading, or use your iPad, iPhone or computer within 30 minutes of going to bed. Avoid night lights or other significant lighting while you’re asleep.
Keep it bright: Ensure you have adequate ambient room lighting when you’re reading, as the eyes will fatigue from attempting to adjust between dark and light if the room is not well lit.
Harmon’s Distance: The distance from elbow to shoulder is the minimum distance at which your vision should be focused; any closer and you are holding material excessively close. Be especially mindful of this when you’re on your smartphone.
Regular eye examinations: Visit your optometrist on a regular basis. Wearing the appropriate glasses and maintaining clear vision is important to prevent eye strain and encourage eye stability. Get an eye examination every six months if your myopia is progressing.
Keeping myopia under control
Scientific and technological changes have improved our capacity to treat patients with myopia. Special spectacle lenses, soft contact lenses, and hard contact lenses are all now available. Talk to your optometrist to find out whether these lenses can help you.