What is Myopia?
Myopia, also known as shortsightedness, is a common eye condition that affects a person's ability to see objects in the distance clearly.
It happens when the eyeball is too long, or the cornea (the clear front part of the eye) is too curved, which causes light entering the eye to focus in front of the retina instead of on it.
This results in blurred vision when looking at objects that are far away, while close-up objects appear clear.
Myopia can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. It can develop at any age, but typically begins in childhood and may worsen during the teenage years as the eye continues to grow.
What causes Myopia?
- Myopia can run in families. Studies have shown that if one or both parents have myopia, their children are more likely to develop it.
- Children with one myopic parent have a 25% chance of being myopic.
- Children with two myopic parents have a 50% chance.
- Excessive near work: Spending long hours reading, studying, using a computer or other digital devices, or doing other close-up work that requires the eyes to focus for long periods of time without breaks can increase the risk of myopia
- Lack of outdoor time: Studies have suggested that spending more time outdoors, particularly in early childhood, may help to reduce the risk of developing myopia.
- Poor lighting: Reading or doing close-up work in low light conditions can strain the eyes and increase the risk of myopia.
- Diet: A diet low in nutrients that are important for eye health, such as vitamin D, may contribute to the development of myopia.
- Prolonged use of screens: Studies have shown that spending long hours on screens, such as smartphones, tablets, or computers, may contribute to the development or worsening of myopia, particularly in children and teenagers.
It's worth noting that while these factors may contribute to myopia, they do not necessarily cause it. The exact mechanisms by which environmental factors influence the development of myopia are still being studied.
Below shows how unclear the distance can look to a person who is myopic.
Is there anything you can do to help prevent Myopia, slow its prgression or prevent it from getting worse?
Here are some tips:
Spend time outdoors: Spending more time outdoors, particularly in early childhood, has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing myopia. Try to get at least 2 hours of outdoor time per day.
Take frequent breaks from close-up work: If you spend long hours reading, studying, or using a computer, take frequent breaks to rest your eyes and look away into the distance.
Good lighting: Make sure the lighting is good when you read or do close-up work, to reduce eye strain.
Limit screen time: Reduce screen time, especially for children and teenagers. If screen time is necessary, take frequent breaks and use proper lighting.*
Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals can help to maintain eye health.
Regular eye check-ups: Regular eye check-ups can help to detect myopia early and monitor its progression. Early detection and treatment can help to slow down its progression.
Corrective lenses: If you have myopia, wearing corrective lenses such as spectacles or contact lenses can help you see clearly and prevent the condition from getting worse. There have been developments in specialist lenses which aim to slow the progression of myopia - see below for full details.
*We know this makes us and parents unpopular!
It's important to remember that these measures may not necessarily prevent myopia entirely, but they can help reduce the risk or slow its progression.
Why all the research into Myopia?
There has been a growing buzz around myopia in recent years due to the significant increase in its prevalence worldwide, particularly in children and young adults. The condition is becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world.
It is estimated that by 2050, half of the world's population may be myopic.
This increase in myopia prevalence has led to concerns about its impact on public health, as it can lead to various eye complications and vision impairment later in life.
High myopia, in particular, can increase the risk of conditions such as:
- Retinal detachment
- Myopic maculopathy
All of these can cause significant visual impairment and even blindness.
There is also a growing recognition of the economic and social impacts of myopia, including the costs of treatment, lost productivity, and reduced quality of life. As a result, there is increasing interest and investment in developing strategies to prevent myopia or slow its progression, as well as finding new treatments to manage and treat the condition.
In summary, the buzz around myopia is driven by the increasing prevalence of the condition, its potential impact on public health, and the economic and social implications of its associated complications.
Who is Myopia Control for?
Speak to one of our Optometrists if your child is:
- already short sighted
- is under 16 years old
- is a student in full-time study
- spends less than 1.5 hours outside every day
- spends more than 2 hours reading or using handheld digital devices daily (outside of school)
- Has one or more parents who are short-sighted (although 1 in 4 people are myopic even if neither parent is)
If any of the above applies to you, or if you just want to be certain you are taking the best care of your child's eyes, then our Optometrists will happily discuss further and in more detail about myopia and the products we have available.
How can Coton & Hamblin Optometrists help with Myopia?
There has been a lot of research in recent years aimed at developing new strategies to control myopia, particularly in children and young adults. Some of the new and promising approaches to myopia control include:
Night Lenses - Orthokeratology: This is a method of vision correction that involves wearing special contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. Studies have shown that orthokeratology can help to slow down the progression of myopia. This is a specialist service and products will be discussed individually. See our separate page on Night Lenses below.
Specialist contact lenses: These are special contact lenses that have different prescriptions in different parts of the lens, allowing for clear vision at multiple distances. Studies have shown that this type of contact lenses can help to slow down the progression of myopia in children. We use MiSight lenses from Coopervision.
Spectacle lenses: These are specialist lenses which use various techniques to reduce the strain on the eyes and limit the growth of the eye, which is associated with the development and progression of myopia. We use the Stellest lens from Essilor.
It's worth noting that while these approaches have shown promise in controlling myopia, further research is ongoing to fully understand their effectiveness, safety, and long-term outcomes. A comprehensive approach to myopia control should also involve regular eye exams and appropriate management of any underlying eye conditions.
Myopia Control Services at Coton & Hamblin
At both practices, we can offer MiSight contact lenses and Stellest Spectacles Lenses.
If you are interested in Night Lenses, please contact the practice for a chat with the Optometrist. The equipment for measuring the lenses is based at Woolwich practice and the Optometrist you will need to book in with is Jo.
Myopia management is not a quick fix to help slow progression. Results will not be immediate. For this reason, we have separate care packages for each service.
All Myopia packages include lenses, whether spectacle or contact lenses, and all aftercare.
For a full breakdown of what is included for each Myopia management, please see the links below.
Note from Jo - Owner of C&H, Optometrist and Mum of 3
I feel that as a parent, business owner and Optometrist, it is really important to give my personal opinion on Myopia Control.
We only really started providing this service within the last 2 years and this is due to research. In the last 2-3 years there has been a staggering amount of evidence published as the research and development into Myopia Control has escalated.
Prior to this, I did not have the information available in order to satisfy my own mind that this would work and I could make recommendations to patients.
As a business owner and Optometrist, I have a duty of care to my patients and I have always made recommendations based on truths that I know and can verify with scientific evidence.
In 2023, I am fully convinced that Myopia control is beneficial, both as a parent and as an Optometrist. My children are not myopic yet (however, due to genetics it's likely). When they do get to that stage, I will be prescribing Myopia control for their future visual outcomes.
Whichever part of Myopia control works best for your child, we will offer support and guidance along the way. This is a marathon and not a sprint. When we do get new information, I will share, as this is a learning process for everyone involved.
As a mum, I am also very aware that some of the tips such as reducing screen time and more time outside can be really tricky - we are in SE London and the weather is often dreadful - but if you can make some small changes, it will help.
Suggesting reduced screen time makes me unpopular with the children in the testing room, (and at home), however, extended close up is linked with myopia and also dry eyes (my other area of interest!)
If your children watch TV, please make them watch on a TV screen and not on a phone/tablet - the TV is a screen, but its further away.
If you have any feedback on this page and information provided, or any questions, please ask