The “myopia epidemic.” Yes, you read that right, it is an epidemic.
Myopia is a common eye condition that causes distance vision to become blurry. It develops as the eye grows longer than it should, and in the younger population, it can progress quickly. This progressive increase is concerning because higher prescriptions result in a quality-of-life issues in the short-term and potential vision threatening conditions in the long-term.
Researchers now know there is more to worry about with myopic eyes than the inconvenience of ever-thickening lenses. Scientific evidence has proven that myopic patients are more vulnerable to a range of sight-threatening diseases and complications. In fact, myopia is the sixth leading cause of blindness. Patients with mild myopia have a four-fold increase in the risk of retinal detachment.
For those with moderate to severe myopia, the risk increases ten times. One study concluded that more than 50 percent of retinal detachments not related to trauma are associated with myopia. Other myopia risks include glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
The dangers of myopia, in conjunction with the normal challenges of subpar vision, mean it is important for parents of myopic children to manage the condition as part of your child’s eye health. The goal of myopia management is to slow the progression of myopia and reduce its impact on your child’s life. The younger myopia management begins, the more effective the treatment.
Myopia (nearsightedness) has become an increasingly prominent issue in the past few decades. It is predicted that one-third of the world’s population, a staggering 2.5 billion people are nearsighted, with exponential growth each year, especially after an entire year of virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The eye becomes more nearsighted as the eye grows longer, which increases the amount of nearsightedness. When you have a long eye, the light rays focus in front of the retina (back lining of the eyeball), rather than directly on it. Consequently, a blurred image is formed for objects that are farther away.
While myopia is partially due to genetics, heredity does not account for the whole story. You may have heard of the dichotomy between nature vs. nurture. As is true for many things, myopia is the result of nature AND nurture. Environmental effects and society’s ever-changing lifestyle also come into play.
So what environmental factors could be the cause of the myopia epidemic? Could it be watching too much television? Playing too many video games? Spending hours upon hours on social media? While possible, the relationship might be more correlative than causative.
Researchers have found that the development of myopia is actually connected to the sun and natural light. Studies conducted in countries like the United States, Asia, and Australia have shown that children who spend more time outside in the sun are less likely to develop myopia than those who spend less time outside.
Making simple changes to daily activity have proven to be very effective, including a minimum of 1-2 hours of outdoor activity per day ( https://www.myopiaprofile.com/why-outdoor-time-matters-in-myopia-development/) .
While outside, there should be little to no near focus happening. Riding bikes, walking, running, playing sports, and playing with others are some ideas of outdoor activities.
Unfortunately, there is no outright cure for myopia, but there are different treatments that can slow the progression of nearsightedness. While many people with myopia believe that their only options are glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery, there is another option – orthokeratology!
At our office, we employ the use of unique retainer lenses that non-invasively reshape the cornea while you sleep. While this may sound a bit scary, it is safe for patients of all ages!
Orthokeratology is reversible, allowing the cornea to readjust itself to its original shape when the lenses are not worn; in a way, these lenses are like retainers, but for your eyes, with each lens made specifically for your eyes. Fortunately, the change of the cornea is so slow that during the day, you are able to see clearly without any visual aid! Furthermore, it is not necessary that you have worn any type of contact lens before. You can easily be taught how to insert and remove orthokeratology lenses and how to properly care for them.
Because the eye grows throughout childhood, children are especially good candidates for orthokeratology. Imagine how great it would be if your child could see 20/20 without glasses or contact lenses during the waking hours. No more worrying about losing or break their glasses, or not properly caring for soft contact lenses. School and sports become hassle-free when you see perfect without glasses or contacts.
Let’s not forget that in addition to being more convenient, orthokeratology is also actually very beneficial to your child’s eye health as well. By slowing the progression of myopia and the elongation of the eye, your child will be at lower risk for retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma, and even blindness.
If you or anyone you know is myopic, be sure to ask our specialist, Dr. Erika Morrow, about orthokeratology! Although the lenses work their magic while you sleep at night, the real difference will be your clear vision during the day.
Serving the communities of Savannah, the Historic District, Pooler, Rincon, Garden City, Tybee Island, Skidaway Island, Whitemarsh Island, Isle of Hope, and other areas of the Low Country.
Call today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Erika Morrow or schedule online.
If you need to reach Dr. Morrow after business hours please call our main office at 912-483-6600. Our voicemail will prompt you to dial #1 for emergencies which will transfer your call directly to Dr. Morrow’s cell phone.
NOTE: There is a $100 after-hours service fee for eye emergencies seen after normal business hours listed below.
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Thurs – Fri: 7:30am – 4pm
Sat – Sun: Closed