Myopia (nearsightedness) occurs when the shape of the eye is more elongated than a normal eye. The curvature of the cornea also plays a role as it bends the light more when it enters the eye.
The focus point will fall in front of the retina which will make distant objects appear blurred. Looking at a close object will appear clear.
The reason for this escalation in myopia has been linked to genetics and lifestyle. A family history of myopia plays a role. The probability that a child may develop myopia is:
The growth stage of the eyes is normally completed by early adulthood. The degree of myopia in early adulthood should stay relatively stable but sometimes this can worsen. Lifestyle changes, with more people working from home and children having school online, and in general spending more time on digital devices, can increase the risk for myopia because of the prolonged focus at close distances.
There are a few ways to correct this refractive error depending on the needs of each individual. The most common would be wearing corrective glasses which focuses the light on your retina for the clearest vision. Another approach is contact lenses, especially with active lifestyles. Laser surgery is also an option for someone who might be restricted at work or in sport, if the glasses were to fall off, or contact lenses is not an option.
In children, the eyes are still in an active growth state and with the rise in myopia in children, many myopia control studies have been done to slow the progression of this refractive error until they reach adulthood and eye growth has stopped.
Atropine drops have shown to slow the progression of myopia in children. Corrective glasses and contact lens designs for myopia control is also available.
Controlled trials showed that increased outdoor activity and monitoring time spent on digital devices can also help reduce the increased shift in myopia with eye growth in children.
However, worsening myopia may contribute to more severe eye health complications and sight-threatening conditions later in life including: retinal detachment, myopic maculopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.
Think you or your child are nearsighted? An eye exam with your Doctor of Optometry will help you to make the right decision for yourself or your child.