A guide to understanding Myopia

What is Myopia?

In the early part of the 20th century, the incidence of myopia in Europe was about 20%. It has now exceeded 50% and is continuing to increase. There are many theories as to why this is happening but none of them is conclusive. This increase in myopia began before the advent of the iPhone and computer screen and continues. The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2050 half of the entire world’s population will be myopic.

Myopia presents itself as blurred long-distance vision, better known as “shortsighted” or “near-sighted”. It is a common refractive error among children and young adults and it can affect the way you see things unless it is relatively close to your eyes. This refractive error is a result of the eyeball growing too long, causing light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina rather than directly on the surface.

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The Cause?

There are many factors that contribute to the progression of Myopia. It can be due to spending too much time doing close work such as reading, playing computer games or even using your phone or tablet. Handheld devices are commonly used by young children to keep them entertained. This results in increased exposure to close work at a younger age. Additionally, Myopia can be hereditary. If a child’s parents are Myopic, the chances of the child being Myopic is increased. There is also evidence that the more time spent indoors, the greater the risk of myopia.

Why it’s crucial to be treated

The average age for myopia development and reduced meaning that children are experiencing more eye growth than their myopic parents. Because of this, the risk of developing other eye diseases such as Cataracts, Glaucoma and Myopic Macular Degeneration, increases. Myopia today is also more severe that it was 2 decades ago. In the past, the progression of myopia terminates at the end of the teen years but now continues for longer sometimes into the 3rd and 4th decades of life. All these means myopia now is a lot more severe with a greater threat to sight in younger people.

If you believe your child may have Myopia or has already been diagnosed, My iClinic can help. Keep an eye out for our next blog, How to Treat and Prevent Myopia.

About the experts

Ms Bola Odufuwa | Consultant Ophthalmologist / Clinic Director

MBBS DO FRCS (Ed) FRCOphth MSc

Bola Odufuwa is a consultant ophthalmologist at The Royal Free Hospital and My-iClinic. She specialises in cataract, glaucoma, paediatric, and laser refractive surgery, and has had extensive training at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, where she gained expertise in the management of various eye conditions.

Odufuwa is a well-renowned activist and leader in ophthalmic care and gives lectures to optometrists and ophthalmologists around the globe. She is also regularly involved in the training of junior doctors and medical students.

Bola Odufuwa’s special interests include optimal refractive outcomes following cataract surgery, non-penetrating glaucoma surgery, and assessment eyesight in children with special needs: particularly dyslexia and autism.