Myopia is the most common refractive eye condition in the world and the leading reason why people across the globe wear glasses, contact lenses or opt for laser vision correction surgery. Myopia is also commonly known as nearsightedness. Myopia occurs when the light that enters our eye isn’t refracted properly by the clear, domed part of the eye called the cornea. Instead of passing through the eye and accurately hitting an area called the retina, which turns light into signals that are sent to the brain and interpreted as images, the light falls in front of it. The result is that the patient can see nearby objects clearly, but those that are farther away appear increasingly blurred. Myopia is progressive, meaning that without treatment, the patient’s vision may likely get worse over time.
Exactly what causes myopia can vary. For some people, myopia will develop in childhood when they undergo a period of rapid growth that causes the eyes to grow too long for the focusing power of the lens. There is also a genetic link, and studies have found that people who have parents who have myopia are more likely to develop it too. Finally, research suggests that there may be some environmental factors that can play a part in the development of myopia. These include not getting enough natural daylight and excessive use of digital devices.
Myopia control, also known as myopia management, is a term used to describe treatment that is specifically designed to slow or halt the progression of myopia, helping to keep it at low to moderate levels. This is important for several reasons. The most obvious is that it helps to keep your vision stable. This can mean that your prescription won’t change as often, enabling you to keep your current glasses or contact lenses for longer. However, myopia control is also crucial for preventing certain eye diseases, which are more common in patients with high levels of myopia. These include:
Cataracts: a condition characterized by the clouding of the natural lens of the eye and one of the leading causes of blindness. Cataracts occur when the proteins found within the lens of the eye start to clump together, causing cloudy patches that are like looking through frosted glass. Cataracts usually develop slowly and can only be effectively treated by replacing the frosted lens with an artificial alternative.
Glaucoma: research shows that patients with severe myopia are up to 300% more likely to develop glaucoma, a condition caused by increased pressure within the eyes that damaged the optic nerve. Most cases of glaucoma develop slowly, and any vision loss is permanent as there is currently no effective treatment.
Macular degeneration: also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD for short, this condition affects the cells of the retina called the macula which is responsible for central vision and being able to see fine detail. The most common form of AMD is untreatable, but vision aids can help patients to preserve their vision as long as possible.
Retinal detachment: patients with severe myopia are more likely to retinal detachment, which is a serious condition where the retina comes away from the layer beneath it, interrupting your vision. Please contact Santa Barbara Eyecare for treatment for retinal detachment is essential.
Fortunately, there are several different treatments that have proven to be effective in slowing the progression of myopia. These include:
Eyedrops. Atropine eyedrops are a popular, simple treatment for myopia control. Atropine eyedrops work by dilating the pupils and temporarily paralyzing the muscles inside the eye that are used to focus, putting the eye under less stress. Experts also believe that the atropine may bind to certain growth receptors found in the eye, blocking the stimulation that can cause the eye to grow too long. For this reason, eyedrops are believed to be especially effective in young people who are developing the condition.
Orthokeratology. Also known as Ortho-K, orthokeratology is another effective treatment for controlling myopia and that can also enable patients to see clearly during the day without the need for prescription eyewear. Ortho-K uses specially fitted gas permeable contact lenses that are worn overnight to reshape the front surface of the eye so that light is refracted correctly. While most contacts shouldn’t be worn while sleeping, Ortho-K lenses allow oxygen to pass through them so that they can be safely worn overnight. When waking, the patient simply removes their lenses and stores them in the cleaning solution. Their eye is able to maintain its new shape for some time before returning to normal. The more consistently patients wear their Ortho-K lenses, the longer their eyes will be able to retain the new shape until they can enjoy a whole day or more of clear vision without having to wear glasses or contact lenses. Ortho-K is non-invasive, painless, and extremely safe, even as a treatment for children.
We are one of the only places in Santa Barbara to offer comprehensive myopia control treatment which will stop your vision from deteriorating and help preserve it long-term. Contact Santa Barbara Eyecare today to schedule a consultation to discuss your suitability for the myopia control treatment by calling (805) 451-8180.