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.
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.
• Headaches – this occurs because the corrective glasses are usually out of date.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.
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.