Most people do not take Myopia seriously. After all, it is a common vision problem. This condition, (also called nearsightedness or short-sightedness), involves having blurred vision when looking at things far from you while objects near you appear clear. This is assuming you are not wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Perhaps, the notion of myopia as a relatively safe eye condition comes from the fact that most cases improve as one ages, especially with the help of eye glasses or contact lenses. However, very few people know that myopia can actually be a serious problem that can cause vision loss. Read on to learn more about this condition.

Degenerative Myopia

This condition is more severe than other types of nearsightedness. It is associated with changes in the retina and the macula. It progresses rapidly and it can cause severe vision loss and retinal detachment.

Degenerative myopia is believed to be hereditary and is present from the time of birth. Most of the time, however, its symptoms begin to manifest during the pre-teen years. It is the seventh leading cause of legal blindness in the United States, affecting around 2% of its population. It commonly affects Japanese, Jewish, Middle Easterners and Chinese.

Symptoms

•    Headaches – this occurs because the corrective glasses are usually out of date. To try and see better in the distance one will squint, which in turn causes eye strain and then can manifest as a headache.

•    Light flashes

•    Cataract formation

•    Decreased vision

•    Increased sensitivity to light

•    Seeing floaters

•    Its symptoms may resemble those of age-related macular degeneration. Both conditions result in loss of central vision due to the detachment of the retina caused by the abnormal elongation of the eyeball. This usually takes place when the back part of the eye is larger than normal due to severe myopia. The marked stretching and thinning can damage the macula, the surrounding retina and the underlying tissue which will then result in having blurred vision.

•    Atrophy of the layer of the retina where blood vessels are located and break in Bruch’s membrane can create lacquer cracks. The blood vessels have the tendency to protrude through the cracks and then leak into the sub-retinal space under the photoreceptor cells. The hemorrhaging can result into retinal detachment, profound loss of central field vision and scarring.

Treatments

Here are some possible means of treating degenerative myopia:

•    If you experience hemorrhaging of blood vessels through the lacquer cracks, you should get immediate medical attention. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-angiogenic drug treatment such as Lucentis or Avastin or photodynamic therapy. Both remedies may be used simultaneously to address the problem.

•    Scleral buckling is a surgical procedure used to treat retinal detachment. It flattens and closes the breaks in the retina. A scleral buckle is a silicone sponge, rubber or semi-hard plastic material that your retinal specialist places on your sclera or the white part of your outer eye. It is sewn to the eye to keep it in place permanently.

•    Your ophthalmologist might also discuss early systemic treatment with 7-methylxanthine. This is used to normalize the abnormal growth pattern of the eyes of myopic children who are aged 8 to 13 years old. A Danish pilot study showed that this medication does not seem to have any obvious side effects over the course of 3 years.

•   Recently a study in Singapore discovered that using an eye drop called Atropine in a very low concentration 0.01% can slow down the progression of myopia dramatically.  This is now our preferred method for controlling myopia combined with a procedure called orthokeratology.  More on orthokeratology and atropine can be found by clicking here.

As with any eye condition, early detection and treatment are essential in preventing this type of nearsightedness from worsening. The moment you begin to exhibit its symptoms, don’t shrug them off as they may be indicative of a more serious condition.

34 Comments

  • by Cathy Posted September 26, 2017 1:55 am

    Very helpful article, thank you. My daughter, who has just turned 20, is experiencing occasional flashes because of her very high powers. While her retinal examination has turned out fine, she is severely depressed about the state of her eyesight when she will be much older. Really hoping there will be major medical advancements by then that will successfully cure all these unfortunate conditions associated with degenerative myopia. I’m hearing there are no cures for issues like myopic degeneration yet.

    • by Jim Kokkinakis Posted September 26, 2017 7:47 am

      Cathy it important that your daughter does what ever she can to keep contact lenses successful. She must wear daily disposable lenses where possible with no preserved solutions. Even though this is not attending to the possible degeneration process, keeping her successful in contact lenses means she can function perfectly normal. Where are you from? Maybe I can refer you to someone that can guide you.
      She also can use atropine eye drops which have been shown to slow down any further progression. Look up the ATOM studies that have been done in Singapore.

      • by Cathy Posted September 26, 2017 4:37 pm

        Thanks for your reply, she has been using contact lenses successfully since she was fifteen and is very comfortable with them. We do get her eyes thoroughly checked every six months, including the retina. We are told that in spite of her flashes, her retina is good. However, our main worry is the possibility of various sight threatening conditions maybe a couple of decades from now.

        About the atropine drops, I was under the impression that they work only for children? She is twenty now.

        • by Jim Kokkinakis Posted September 27, 2017 7:45 am

          Atropine drops “only work on children”, because that is what the studies have concentrated on. There are no long term studies done on adults because myopia tends to slow down dramatically after 18. Some people though continue to progress. If the fear of progression is high with your daughter I see no down side in using the drops. Degenerative myopia can be a big problem for some people, so anything that can be offered that might help is worth considering. Outdoor activity with some sun exposure is also helpful in some cases.

          I also need to stress the contact lens story again. Failure in contact lenses is very high so every effort needs to made to keep them successful.

          More contact lens information is here.

          Even though she has been successful for years this does not mean she is doing everything in the best possible way.

          • by Cathy Posted September 27, 2017 8:15 pm

            Thank you for the information. Her power has been stable for about a year or so, and I suppose that is a good thing. We are thinking of getting ICL implants for her in a couple of years. What are your views on that? I’m assuming lasik will be very difficult given her high prescription.

          • by Jim Kokkinakis Posted October 4, 2017 6:49 am

            If you r daughter is wearing daily disposable contact lenses successfully I would not recommend ICL. It is an invasive procedure with no upside unless contact lenses fail. Complications include glaucoma and cataracts. Lasik you are correct is unlikely to be a good option.
            From the sounds of things it doesn’t sound all that bad.

  • by Kathleen Posted August 28, 2017 5:21 pm

    Hi there, I was born with degenerative myopia. I’m 21 years old, and they tell me, my sight will continue to degrade til I’m blind. I currently have sections of my retina thinning out and I’ve had experienced bleeding vessels in the back of the eye, treated and fine now. I have a perscription of -16.0 L eye and -16.75 R eye.
    What’s your opinion of the orthokeratology for my situation?

    • by Jim Kokkinakis Posted September 17, 2017 8:08 am

      Kathleen orthokeratology is not for you.
      There have been some great results with lose dose (0.01%) atropine drops to slow down further progression, although these stuides have been done with younger children, not with progressive adults.

  • by Nayana Posted August 12, 2017 2:26 pm

    Hi sir. How dangerous (and progressive) is the presence of myopic discs in a high myopic patient in their 20s? Thank you

    • by Jim Kokkinakis Posted August 12, 2017 6:22 pm

      Myopic discs are normal for a myopic patient. Regular eye testing to rule out retinal tears and glaucoma is necessary at least once per year.

  • by Jim Kokkinakis Posted August 12, 2017 12:43 pm

    Bleach can be very dangerous in an eye. Its been a few days since you have written this. If the eye feels normal, it will be fine. On the other hand if it is irritating you I would see someone about this ASAP.

  • by soumya Posted June 27, 2017 11:45 am

    hi i am 30 years old women.I have been wearing glasses from 14 years age.At that time i was prescribed -2.5 in both eyes.Now i am wearing -5 in right eye and -4.75 in left eye.1.5 year ago i was diagnosed with tiny retinal tear and doctors did laser treatment and fixed it. Do you think mine is degenerative myopia? If so what i have to do now? I am worried Please reply .

    Thank you

    • by Jim Kokkinakis Posted July 6, 2017 2:29 pm

      This is very unlikely to be degenerative myopia. This normally occurs to people that are -5 under 10 years of age and by the time they are 30 they are likely to be -15 or even more.

  • by Jeannie Posted February 23, 2017 4:58 pm

    Have had cataracts removed 3 years ago and was told I have mi optic degeneration last years I have these terrible migane heads ache lasting for three mths .in pain all the time . My eye surgeon scheduled me for a MRI next week . My vision has declined I am seeing big back spots zig zgs and sometime white .Do you think headache are related to my myopic degeneration? if so what should I do ?

    • by admin Posted February 26, 2017 5:34 am

      Jeannine I do not think your headaches are related to you myopic degeneration. There is no pain to myopic degeneration. The black spots could be related to the myopic degeneration but if they are zig zag in shape I would be inclined to think they are related to migraine, especially the white ones.

  • by Harsh agarwall Posted February 15, 2017 4:02 pm

    Hi !! Plz tell me if i hve a serious problem
    I m 17 years old
    I m using -3 and -5.5 lens in my eyes …??
    Is this a symptom of blindness
    I hve visited my doctor but he has only said me to chnge my lens and has givn an eye drop ” visilube” to use …
    Is immediate treatement needed for this ..
    Plz plz reply and suggest me what should i do !!
    I m from a small city

    • by admin Posted February 26, 2017 5:42 am

      harsh this is a small prescription. Ideally you should do some myopia control but this is only available from contact lens specialists. The procedure is called orthokeratology. More on orthokeratology can be found here.

  • by ROSEMARY Posted February 1, 2017 9:43 am

    I am strongly myopic with -8 to 9 in each eye. I had cataract surgery in my late forties and went on to have a detached retina requiring laser and Cryo and a buckle in my right eye 2 years later. I’d had lattice degeneration for many years. Yesterday my ophthalmologist was pleased with my level of vision although I’ve lost some peripheral vision due to all the surgery. ( I had preventative treatment to my left eye in 2013). I was shocked to learn that my myopic eyes are also at increased risk of macular degeneration, although there’s no sign of this yet. My ophthalmologist seemed to think that I’ll keep my eyesight but he will be looking out for further deterioration. It feels like it never ends. I’d felt I was out of the woods when my retinal detachment was treated successfully but now I feel much more worried again.

    • by admin Posted February 26, 2017 5:57 am

      Rosemary eyesight is precious. I understand that. From your perspective you just need to avoid trauma to the head. You are very unlikely to develop macular degeneration from myopia, even though you have had retinal detachments.

  • by Wendy Posted January 6, 2017 2:09 am

    Good evening, please do forgive my detail but I am so in hopes of a solution for my daughter. She has been followed from birth for strabismis. Having BEMS(bi-lateral eye-muscle surg.) three times, from her first year and lastly in JrHS. As well she has worn glasses since her third month with patching into middle school, wearing contacts since HS. During JrHS she lost vision in one eye for about 3-1/2 wks after taking a basketball to the face resulting in a retinal contusion. In HS we learned she had “Pathological Myopia” when reading it on a form from doc to the DMV for a DRVs Lic., but even with contacts she was unable to get a lic. She has been ridiculed by an employer for the visible outline of her contacts, even being vision tested on the signage in front of customers and worse…
    We are prayerfully seeking ANY correction such as would allow her to drive and navigate from bath to bed w/o contacts at night. Being told lenses for glasses, now prescribed at -22.50 and -22.00, would likely virtually touch her eyeball itself. I have great reservations about that being without its own significant RISK to her eye health and safety!
    Any ideas, referrals, suggestions or leads would be so very gratefully appreciated! We are in the San Diego CA area.
    Blessings,
    Wendy

    • by admin Posted February 26, 2017 5:50 am

      Wendy I am sorry for the very late reply. This very high prescription is sometimes best corrected with scleral contact lenses. These must be supplied by a contact lens specialist. More on scleral contact lenses can be found here.

      Sometimes other contact lenses can do the trick very well. Look at our link called contact lenses.

      Once you have done this, if you are interested in seeing someone who specialises in America, near San Diego, email me direct.

  • by Khin Posted November 27, 2016 5:16 am

    Hi, I am not sure if i am suffering from degenerative myopia. but my symptoms are similar. I have vision loss from time to time. My right eye will lost half of the vision like something is stuck there and it will return to normal in 5 to 10 min time. My eyes are also sensitive to light.

    What are they measures that i can take to prevent it? or at least things i should do and i shouldnt?

    I dont want my retina to detach…

    • by admin Posted November 27, 2016 8:41 pm

      Khin
      This possibly sounds like an ocular migraine, which is nothing to worry about. I would seek a comprehensive eye test though to confirm this.
      It does not sound like degenerative myopia.

  • by sam Posted October 5, 2016 11:08 am

    hi I am also suffering from deg.myopia. and level is also too high I am currently using glasses -9.00 on right and -12.00 on left eye the level hasn’t been increasing since 5 years . what can be the right way to improve eye power or visioning . any therapy or exercises what can I do currently doing bachelor in finance

    • by admin Posted October 12, 2016 9:06 am

      The fact you have stabilised for the last 5 years is great. You cannot improve your vision but you can eat healthy (green leafed vegetables), you need more outdoor activity, do NOT smoke. These are all common sense things.

  • by Amy Connelly Posted July 31, 2016 10:56 pm

    My 4 year old was diagnosed with progressive myopia. She is currently -10.25 in both eyes and increasing around .75 every 6 months. I need to get her to a specialist ASAP! Can you please recommend someone in the eastern US?

    • by Jim Posted August 18, 2016 2:13 am

      Gee Amy I understand your fear. At her age the only procedure that has some hope of helping is low dose atropine eye drops 0.01%. I’m afraid I do not know anyone there. What city are you from? I take a while to reply to these blog comments. Email an enquiry from the inquiry form on this website.

  • by Lisa Posted April 7, 2016 4:04 pm

    My 7-years-old child was diagnosed with Pathological myopia and I was shocked to hear that, at present, there is no cure available for it. I switched over to homeopathy and was amused to find that his myopic progression was checked. It is a long term course but effective. I am sharing the prescription and advice all parents to consult homeopathy physician before initiating it. Gelesmium 200- 1 drop daily, Physostigma Venenosum 200- 1 drop daily, Kalium phosphoricum 6x- 3 tablets 3 times a day.

    • by admin Posted April 23, 2016 2:30 am

      Dear Lisa this diagnosis is indeed very confronting. Another thing you could consider is atropine 0.01% eye drops. One drop each eye before going to bed. This is now medically proven. Even though homeopathy is used by many people it has been shown to not work in many cases. I guess there is probably little harm. How long has your child been stable using this treatment?

      • by Lisa Posted April 26, 2016 3:59 pm

        Using since one year and the number got stable. I thank god for it and want everybody to get benefit.

  • by Eileen Bryant Posted August 25, 2015 5:39 pm

    I was recently diagnosed with myopic degeneration at age 62. My symptoms are not loss of central vision but cloudiness, especially around sources of light. I struggle to read at work as I feel like I am in a steam room. I do not have cataracts and my eyes are only mildly dry (although I recently started using Restasis). I am beginning to wonder if my symptoms are even due to the myopic, or retinal degeneration. I have found little to help in my research efforts. Can you help? Thank you.

    • by admin Posted December 31, 2015 12:48 am

      Eileen i am sorry for the late reply.Depending on how much myopia you have, I would be surprised if you do not have at least some cataract. Where are you located I would suggest a second opinion.

    • by Amy Barnard Posted September 15, 2016 9:54 pm

      Hi – I am 37 and have been diagnosed with myopic degeneration for over 5 years. Although I have not been suscessful at finding a source that lists all of your experiences that you have and will have in one place. I can say that the cloudiness and light issues with no cataracts are something I have. In addition I have time when I see black dots that glitter and fade away that are not related to the many floaters more linked to the cell “gaps” as they are failing. I am under the care of some great docs monitoring for detachments and things, but thought you might feel better hearing about someone else “seeing” the same types of things. Best of luck to you!

      • by admin Posted October 2, 2016 9:28 pm

        Hi Amy, it is really important to try and stick to the things that you can control, when it come to any eye condition. In the context of myopic degeneration all you can do is avoid sudden shakes to the head like whiplash, getting hit in the head or around the eyes. If you are seeing great docs, they will have advised you that if you notice and distortion or significant change to vision to seek a consultation within a few days. You also need to remember that the docs nor myself can actually see what you are seeing. Every single person will see something different, so it is only after hearing different symptoms over many years that we accumulate a group of them that seem to relate to any particular condition. If possible you need to focus on your every day activities instead of your eyes. I know its hard but you need to for your own good. If something significant happens immediately seek a consultation and if any treatment can be offered it will. I hope this makes sense.

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