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​"Despite increasing prevalence, public health burden, and financial costs of myopia, this problem remains largely underappreciated by the ophthalmic community."


Myopia affects billions globally, and by year 2050 estimated of 4.8 billion will have myopia and almost a billion will have high myopia. Myopia prevalence increases over time and a significant number is at risk of vision loss. This is because myopia, particularly high myopia is a complex condition associated with major eye diseases.



 

What is myopia?

Myopia is known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness. This condition causes your distance vision to be blurred compare to your near vision. The earlier a child gets myopia, the more likely he/she will get high myopia as an adult. Myopia tends to rapidly increase from the age of 5 to 15 years old, and usually stabilises in the twenties.

Myopia occurs when the eyeball is longer than a normal eye. The elongation of eyeball causes light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface. This results in a mismatch between the length of the eye and its focusing power, distant object are thus seen to be blurred.

 

Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of myopia is blurry vision when you look at faraway objects. Children may have trouble seeing the black or white board at school.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue in eye
  • Squinting

 

Risk factors

The exact causes of myopia is unknown, but there are certain risk factors that increase the chances of getting myopia. The most commonly is caused by the eyes growing too quickly.


Genetics

Myopia tends to run in the family. If one of the parents is myopic, the risk of the child developing the condition is doubled. The risk of myopia is eight times more if both parents of the child are myopic.

Environmental

Environmental factors play a crucial role in myopia development. Lack of outdoor activities and excessive near work like reading and playing electronical devices exposes one's risk of developing myopia.


Complications of myopia

Other than the inconvenience of having to wear spectacles for clear vision, myopia can also attribute to developing eye disorders in later life. Such conditions include retina tear/detachment, cataract, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Retina tear/detachment

The retina is a light sensitive layer of tissue in the innermost layer of the eye that is important for vision. When one has myopia, the elongation results in thinner retina. This puts the eye at greater risk of developing a retina tear, hole or detachment. Retinal detachment requires urgent treatment to reattach the detached layer as this can be a permanent loss of vision in the affected eye.

Cataract

Cataract refers to the clouding of one’s crystalline lens in eye. Myopic patients have an earlier onset of cataract causing blurring of vision that is not correctable with prescription lenses.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is associated with increased fluid pressure within the eyeball. Severe myopia increases the risk of developing glaucoma. If left untreated, it can cause blindness. Glaucoma is known as ‘silent thief of sight’ as it is often symptomless, and can cause poor and constricted vision gradually.

Macular degeneration

The macula is the central part of the retina that provides the clearest vision. Increased axial elongation in high myopia may lead to mechanical stretching and thinning of the retina layers with vascular and degenerative changes.


Debunking Myths


​Myopia is a silent epidemic that is affecting billions around the world. Many do not know of the severity myopia complication and possibily resulting vision loss.


  1. Myopia is a kid only problem. 
    False. Many may not know that the risk of vision loss increases with age.


  2. Myopia will not cause blindness. 
    False. Myopia, particularly high myopia is a complex condition and it is associated with major eye disease that requires early intervention or may result in visual impairment.


  3. Myopia can be easily treated by a pair of glasses or contact lenses. 
    False. The risk of visual impairment is related to the elongation of eye ball and refractive power in eye.


  4. Wearing pinhole glasses can train eyesight and reverse myopia.
    False. Myopia cannot be reversed and can only be managed by slowing down its progression. Currently, there is no known cure for myopia.


  5. Taking supplements such as vitamin A will prevent myopia.
    False. Myopia is not a cause from vitamin A deficiency. Taking vitamin A will help in possible night vision blindness but will not help to prevent or improve vision from myopia cause.