Welcome to our comprehensive guide on myopia, also known as nearsightedness. Myopia affects a significant portion of the Canadian population and can have long-term implications for vision health. We are dedicated to providing the best care for our patients at Garibaldi Eye Care in Squamish, Canada. 

We’ll explore the causes of myopia, discuss the associated risks, and highlight the available treatment options. Understanding myopia is the first step towards managing and preserving your vision. Let’s dive in and discover everything you need to know about this standard refractive error.

What is Myopia?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common vision condition that causes distant objects to appear blurry while near things remain clear. It occurs when the shape of the eye causes light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. The exact cause of myopia is multifactorial and involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Myopia is prevalent in Canada, affecting approximately 30% of the population. According to a study conducted by Statistics Canada, the prevalence of myopia has increased from 25% in the early 2000s to 35% in recent years, with a significant rise among children and teenagers.

Causes of Myopia

Myopia can be attributed to various factors, including:

1. Genetic predisposition: A family history of myopia increases the likelihood of developing the condition. Studies have shown that children with myopic parents are more likely to become nearsighted. The probability increases if both parents have myopia, indicating a vital genetic component.

2. Environmental factors: Lifestyle and environmental factors also significantly influence myopia development. Some of these factors include:

  • Excessive screen time: Prolonged use of computers, smartphones, and other digital devices can contribute to eye strain and myopia development.
  • Limited outdoor exposure: Research suggests that spending more time outdoors may help protect against myopia, possibly due to increased exposure to natural light and focusing on objects at a distance.
  • Prolonged near work: Activities requiring intense focus on near objects, such as reading or sewing, can lead to eye strain and myopia development over time.
  • Age-related changes: The eye’s structure may change with age, increasing the risk of myopia. While myopia typically develops during childhood, some individuals may experience myopia onset or progression in adulthood due to age-related changes in the eye’s lens or other structural components.

Symptoms of Myopia

Symptoms of myopia include:

  • Difficulty seeing distant objects clearly: Nearsighted individuals often struggle to see road signs, television screens, or faces at a distance, while close-up objects remain clear.
  • Squinting to improve vision: Squinting is a typical response to myopia, temporarily narrowing the focus of light entering the eye, making distant objects appear more clearly.
  • Eye strain and headaches: Prolonged focus on distant objects can cause eye strain and tension headaches, particularly after extended periods of driving, sports, or watching movies.

Regular eye exams are crucial for the early detection of myopia and other vision-related issues. These exams allow eye care professionals to identify and address vision problems before significantly impacting your daily life.

Diagnosis and Measurement of Myopia

An optometrist or ophthalmologist will assess your visual acuity and refraction during an eye exam to diagnose myopia. Several tests may be used, such as the Snellen chart for distance vision and the use of a phoropter to determine the correct prescription needed to correct your myopia.

Myopia is measured in diopters, with higher numbers indicating more severe nearsightedness. A prescription with a negative value, such as -2.00 diopters, indicates myopia. The higher the absolute value, the stronger the medication required to correct the vision.

Myopia Control and Prevention Strategies

While genetic factors are beyond our control, there are steps we can take to reduce the risk of developing myopia or slow down its progression:

  • Spend Time Outdoors: Encourage children and adults to spend more time outdoors, as studies have shown that increased exposure to natural light can help protect against myopia. Aim for at least two hours of outdoor activities each day.
  • Practice the 20-20-20 Rule: For individuals engaged in near work, such as reading or using digital devices, encourage them to take regular breaks. Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen or book and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This way helps reduce eye strain and fatigue.
  • Maintain a Healthy Distance and Posture: Ensure that your reading material or digital screen is placed comfortably from your eyes. The ideal distance is about 16 to 18 inches, and the screen should be slightly below eye level. Practicing good posture while working or reading also helps minimize eye strain.
  • Control Screen Time: Limit the time spent on digital devices, especially for children. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends up to two hours of daily recreational screen time for children and teenagers. Encourage breaks and physical activities instead.
  • Regular Eye Exams: Schedule regular comprehensive eye exams with an optometrist for early detection and management of myopia. Optometrists can provide personalized recommendations and prescribe appropriate corrective eyewear or optical treatments if necessary.

By implementing these preventive measures and adopting healthy eye care habits, individuals can reduce their risk of developing myopia or slow its progression. Creating awareness about myopia and taking proactive steps to protect our vision health is crucial.

Risks Associated with Myopia

Myopia, if left unmanaged or untreated, can have several long-term implications for eye health. The elongation of the eyeball in myopia can lead to thinning and stretching of the retina, increasing the risk of various eye conditions.

  • Retinal Detachment: Myopia is a significant risk factor for retinal detachment, where the retina separates from the underlying tissue. The elongated eyeball in myopia can cause the retina to become thinner and more susceptible to tears or separation.
  • Myopic Macular Degeneration: Myopia increases the risk of developing myopic macular degeneration, which affects the central part of the retina called the macula. This risk can lead to permanent central vision loss or distortion.
  • Glaucoma: Myopia is associated with an increased risk of developing glaucoma, a condition characterized by damage to the optic nerve. The elongated shape of the eyeball in myopia can increase the pressure inside the eye, contributing to the development of glaucoma.
  • Cataracts: While myopia doesn’t cause cataracts, individuals with high myopia might have a higher risk of developing cataracts at a younger age than those without myopia.

Research conducted in Canada has highlighted the alarming association between myopia and retinal diseases. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, for every 3.00 Diopters of myopia developed, the risk of retinal diseases increases by 70 times.

These risks emphasize the importance of managing and controlling myopia to reduce the likelihood of complications. Regular eye exams with an optometrist, such as the experienced professionals at Garibaldi Eye Care, can help monitor the progression of myopia and detect any early signs of associated eye conditions. Individuals can minimize the potential long-term risks and maintain their vision health by taking proactive steps to address myopia.

Treatment Options for Myopia

Garibaldi Eye Care offers various treatment options to manage and control myopia progression. These options include:

  • Prescription Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses: These provide clear vision by compensating for the refractive error of myopia. Regular eye exams are essential to ensure the prescription is up-to-date.
  • Orthokeratology (Ortho-K): This non-surgical treatment involves wearing special gas-permeable contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea temporarily. It allows clear vision during the day without needing glasses or contact lenses.
  • Low-Dose Atropine Eye Drops: Studies have shown that low-dose atropine eye drops can effectively slow down myopia progression in children. A study at the University of British Columbia found that daily low-dose atropine eye drops reduced myopia progression by 50% in Canadian children.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Encouraging children to spend more outdoors and limiting screen time can help manage myopia progression. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, children who spend at least two hours per day outdoors have a lower risk of developing myopia.

Have Your Myopia Checked at Garibaldi Eye Care

Understanding the causes, risks, and available preventive measures for myopia is crucial for maintaining optimal vision health. It is recommended to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams with an experienced optometrist. We are committed to providing personalized care and practical solutions to manage myopia at Garibaldi Eye Care.

Our experienced doctors of optometry can assess your vision and offer appropriate recommendations to prevent or slow down the progression of myopia. By seeking professional guidance, you can ensure early detection of myopia and receive tailored treatment options. Take control of your eye health and book an appointment with Garibaldi Eye Care today.