Commonly referred to as nearsightedness, myopia is when objects up close are visibly clear while objects at a distance are blurry. Myopia happens to be the most common form of refractive error that often develops during childhood.
Less common forms of refractive errors include:
- Astigmatism: When the shape of the eye is no longer aspherical. This deviation from the normal roundness of the eyeball causes visual distortion and inability to focus.
- Farsightedness: The opposite of myopia, farsighted individuals can see at a distance, while objects at the close end up blurry. When the light that enters the eye incorrectly, reaching behind the retina, results in poor focus. Farsighted individuals are often born with an eyeball that is shorter in size.
- Presbyopia: Often occurs in adults over 40, where the eyeball’s elasticity or ability to focus weakens.
How Common is Myopia in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina?
Today, the rate of myopia has skyrocketed to nearly 30 – 40% of the U.S. population, which includes us in Myrtle Beach.
Modern research estimates that this epidemic is continuing to rise unless parents help their children control their myopia early in life. Utilizing solutions like orthokeratology at Carolina Forest Family Eyecare's Myopia Management Center will stop the progression of myopia to ensure healthier, longterm vision.
Problems That Come From Myopia
How children complete their homework for school or how adults write emails on the computer depend on their nearsighted vision. Everyday activities like reading the newspaper or restaurant menu, recognizing people’s faces, and checking our smartphones rely heavily on our myopic vision.
However, high levels of myopia will hamper the ability to see at a distance. That means greater difficulty at driving, playing sports, seeing the blackboard at school, watching movies & television, or enjoying nature hikes.
While prescription eyewear like eyeglasses or contact lenses will correct our vision, myopia will increase the risk of eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, or a retinal detachment in later years.
Unmanaged myopia will typically progress in children starting as young as infancy and continuing on until their early 20s. Many children start their first pair of eyeglasses when they reach school-age, especially if they spent too much time indoors. Modern research suggests that a lack of sunlight and exercise could be hampering our children’s eye health.
The Science Behind Myopia
The shape of the eye is aspheric, nearly round, to allow light into our eyes. The light will pass through the cornea, the surface of the eye, and ultimately reach the optic nerve, which finally sends signals to our brain. Our brain translates these signals into what we call “vision.”
When the shape of the eyeball elongates (gets longer in shape), the light fails to enter the eye directly to the retina. This lack of focus results in blurry vision.
Although researchers struggle to identify the causes of myopia & how to cure this eye condition, some factors are associated with myopia progression:
- Excessive time spent indoors
- Usage of handheld devices, laptops or computers, or electronic devices in general
For more information about myopia & the effects on children, read more about myopia control here.