Myopia, also called nearsightedness, is a very common form of refractive error that affects millions of Americans. In myopia, distance vision is affected, and objects that are far away can be blurry and difficult to see. This can be troublesome in many instances, for example when children are unable to see the board or teacher at school, or when street signs are unreadable while driving. The higher the amount of astigmatism, the blurrier things may be. The prevalence of myopia is rapidly increasing, and even the average amount of nearsightedness is increasing, meaning that more and more individuals are relying heavily on visual correction in order to live their day-to-day life. We’ve already discussed why myopia control is important to promote healthy eyes; it’s also important to address some of the main factors contributing to the development and progression of myopia, and what steps can be taken to address them.
There is significant evidence that suggests genetics plays some role in the development of nearsightedness. For children who have two parents with myopia, the likelihood of developing nearsightedness is statistically higher than those children with parents who do not have any form of refractive error. Additionally, the higher the degree of myopia in the parents, the more likely the child is to develop it. There is also evidence that race can play a role in the development of nearsightedness, with Asian and Hispanic ethnic groups having a general higher prevalence of myopia. While there is no way to change genetics, there are still things that can be done to address these factors of myopia development. Regular eye examinations can determine whether glasses are needed and ensure myopia is not causing any risks to ocular health, and for many people, myopia control can be an option to reduce the rate of progression of the condition.
Recently, there has been much interest in the role of environmental factors in the development and progression of myopia. Several studies have concluded that an increased amount of time outdoors can lower the risk of developing myopia; this is thought to be because of the decreased amount of stress placed on the visual system. By allowing the eyes to spend a significant amount of time viewing far-away objects, instead of placing a high demand on the focusing system, may play a role in myopia progression. Others believe that natural sunlight plays a role in healthy eye development and is the reason for the decreased development of myopia. Other studies have suggested that a high demand of near work, meaning lots of time spent reading, viewing tablets, or looking at other close objects, may increase the risk of developing nearsightedness. While these environmental factors are not the only aspect playing a role in myopia development, they should certainly be considered when discussing the public health risks of myopia progression.
Premier Eye Associates is proud to offer methods of myopia control that not only eliminate the need for glasses during the day, but also decrease the progression of myopia. When considering the factors contributing to the development of this health risk, it’s important to remember that steps can still be taken to protect ocular health and improve daily life.