What is Myopia?
For people who are myopic, near objects are clear while distant objects appear blurry. This is usually because the eye becomes too long to focus correctly.
Myopia, or short-sightedness, has become worryingly prevalent and has reached epidemic levels. An estimated 2.5 billion people will be affected worldwide by 2020*.
The condition is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. So, a child is more likely to develop myopia if one or both of their parents have the condition, but the recent prevalence cannot be explained by genetics alone.
Unfortunately, a childhood diagnosis of myopia means life-long eye care and, worse still, the condition brings with it a higher risk of developing serious eye conditions, such as retinal detachment and glaucoma.
Research indicates that children who are genetically predisposed to myopia (children with short-sighted parents) can reduce their chances of developing the condition by increasing the amount of time they spend outdoors.
It is believed that natural, outdoor light on the retina protects the eye from lengthening and therefore becoming myopic.
Around 14 hours a week spent outdoors has been shown to reduce the chance of a person becoming myopic - even in overcast weather.
Unfortunately, once a child becomes short-sighted, the amount of time spent outdoors ceases to impact on the eye, so exposure to natural light is only preventative. It should however, be considered from as early in a child’s life as possible.
Contrary to previous theories, excessive homework or reading are not factors that contribute to the onset of myopia.
There is, as yet, no cure for myopia. The physical change of the elongated eyeball cannot be reversed (even laser-eye surgery can’t do this) and that’s why myopia control is so important.
The aim is to slow down, or halt, the progression of myopia, and this is becoming increasingly effective, especially in children and teenagers.
Orthokeratology is playing a key role in myopia control all over the world. Recent studies have indicated that myopia develops at a much slower rate, and can even be halted, in children fitted with orthokeratology lenses.
The results vary for each individual child, but most experts maintain that these lenses are the best available option for children suffering from myopia.