What is myopia?
Myopia or shortsightedness means a difficulty seeing far away, such as trouble looking at street signs while being able to see well up close. So near vision is good and distance vision is blurred.
Common corrections for this problem include spectacles, contact lenses and for some laser refractive surgery. The eye can be considered a little too long in size with the image focussed in front of the retina.
The condition typically starts around 7 to 9 years of age and develops in the teens and generally stabilises in the 20s.
It is well known that certain groups are more greatly affected. In Asian populations, the rates of myopia are much higher than in Caucasian populations. For example in Singapore, 34% of the population is considered to be myopic and even up to 80% are affected in certain vocations who study extensively.
In my Central Coast location, the amount of children presenting with shortsightedness is more like 10%. The local kids enjoy their outdoor lifestyle, plenty of natural light and soccer is popular. So lesser rates.
There has been a lot of research into the factors behind myopia. Considered to be relevant include genetics, time spent in natural light and amount of closework. What is not 100% clear cut is how the myopia is corrected whether that has a bearing on the eventual degree of correction required. In some young people they progress a lot and need thick glasses and others the prescription is quite minimal if any.
The question is do you fully correct, delay prescribing or give some form of under correction. Another question is the form of correction: are contact lenses better than glasses, are hard contact lenses better than soft; what about bifocal or multifocal spectacle corrections. Some studies have looked at atropine eye drops to temporarily penalise near focus as a strategy to slow myopic progression.
Probably the best way at present we have for control of myopic progression is orthokeratology, a hard contact lens option. More on this later.