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THE MYOPIA EPIDEMIC

Overview

  • Myopia = Nearsightedness
  • Far away objects are blurry, close objects are clear, occurs because light focuses on the front of the retina instead of on it.
  • Extremely common, around 30 % of Americans are nearsighted.
  • It can be present from birth or can start between the ages 6 and 16.
  • May become worse during the teenage years up until 18 years of age. Usually, it gets worse around age 9-10 for girls and 11-12 for boys.
  • A possible explanation as to why myopia occurs is that a combination of genetic and environmental factors disrupts the normal development of the eye.
  • The eyeball grows too long from front to back, abnormal shape of the cornea, abnormal shape of the lens.
  • One of the most common environmental factors that cause and/or worsen myopia is playing too many video games, reading excessively.
  • An excessively long eyeball results in the focal point falling in front of the retina.

Symptoms

  • Trouble seeing distant objects.
  • Common scenarios when one recognizes the symptoms:
  • Not able to see the blackboard at class during elementary school years.
  • Not able to see the subtitles when you watch TV.
  • Having difficulty driving towards the evening due to not being able to read the road sign.

Treatment

  • Eyeglasses
  • Contact Lenses
  • Surgery

When to get Screening?

  • Late diagnosis can cause academic failure for kids.
  • Kids’ eyes should be checked annually, preferably before the start of the school year.
  • In case of myopia, it is important to have regular fundus exams as well. Myopia may lead to retinal thinning, retinal tears, holes which needs to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Is there anything that can be done to prevent it?

  • Spending enough time outdoors and getting exposed to sunlight is protective.
  • It is recommended that children be exposed to approximately 2 hours of daylight per day to prevent myopia.
  • The risk is increased by activities performed at short visual distances (close up work).
  • A person with little exposure to daylight has a fivefold risk of developing myopia, which can rise as high as a 16-fold risk if that person also performs close up work.
  • Progression of myopia can be reduced by atropine eye drops as indicated and prescribed by the treating ophthalmologist, effects must be monitored approximately every 6 months.
  • If a child or adolescent wishes to wear contact lenses multifocal contact lenses can be considered.

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