Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a loss of a person’s eyes’ ability to see faraway objects. People who are nearsighted usually have larger than average eyes. The incidence of myopia is increasing in the United States as well as globally. Before the industrial revolution it was felt that only 5% of the population was nearsighted. In 1971 the incidence of myopia rose to 26% of the population and now the rates have risen to 42%. It is estimated by 2050 that 50% of our population will be nearsighted. We usually don’t think of nearsightedness as a disease, but more of an optical problem that can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. Nearsightedness is associated with three causes of blindness: glaucoma, retinal detachment and myopic macular degeneration. Nearsightedness can cause significant disability .
Researchers have shown that the increase in nearsightedness is largely caused by the changes in our lifestyles over the last century. People are spending more time on near activities such as reading, cell phones and using computers. Children on average are spending less time outdoors and more time on video games along with their cell phones. These facts alone are largely responsible for the changes in the sight of our population.
There are, fortunately, things that can be done to lower your chances of being nearsighted:
- Spend 1-2 hours per day outdoors
- Take breaks to look up and unfocus your eyes to see distance vision three times per hour.
- Work in good lighting
- Don’t hold reading material too close. A normal reading distance is with your arms at your side and parallel to the ground (called the Harmon distance).
If you have progressive nearsightedness there are also some things that can be done to lower your rate of nearsighted progression by 50-60%. These include the use of orthokeratology lenses worn at night. These lenses reshape the eye while sleeping, allowing your vision to be corrected during the day without glasses. Specially formulated atropine drops can retard nearsighted progression. The new formulated drops can be taken without side effects. Reading/computer glasses can reduce eye fatigue caused by prolonged near activities and can be helpful at reducing myopia risk.
Myopia is the leading cause of vision decline in people ages 8-20. We now have ways to reduce your risk of myopic progression by 50-60% through the application of lifestyle adjustments, Orthokeratology lenses, specially formulated atropine drops and reading glasses. Please contact our office if you are interested in finding out more of how we can help.