WHAT IS MYOPIA?
Myopia, also commonly known as short-sightedness, occurs when the eye is not able to refract light properly to a single point on the retina. The light rays are focused in front of the retina instead of on it which results in blur vision, and hence giving the term “short sightedness”.
As such, individuals with myopia will usually state that near objects often appear clear while distant objects appear blurred or out of focus.
FACTS ABOUT MYOPIA
Do you know that Singapore is the “Myopia capital of the world”?
In a study conducted by the Health Promotion Board of Singapore (HPB), it was found that 65% of primary school students are short sighted. Citing another online survey conducted by IPSOS Singapore* recently, it was also revealed that amongst children from 7 to 13 years old, 33% actually started wearing glasses before the age of 7, with the youngest having to start at the age of 3!
It is also interesting to note that the prevalence of myopia is significantly higher in children of Chinese ethnic descent than in children of other ethnic groups. This finding appears to be linked to the tremendous pressure on Chinese children to succeed in school at an early age. This could be the result of them spending more time hunched over their books indoors which could be detrimental to their eyesight.
*IPSOS Singapore is a subsidiary of the global market research and consulting firm, IPSOS Group S.A founded in 1975. Website: www.ipsos.com
Myopia – Hereditary or Lifestyle?
The onset and progression of myopia can be attributed to multiple factors and they can be commonly split into 2 groups - hereditary and lifestyle.
Studies have shown that children whose parents are myopic, are on average 2 to 3 times more likely to have hereditary myopia than children whose parents are not myopic1.
Near vision demanding tasks and limited time spent outdoors, relating to lifestyle are known to influence the development of myopia. Intense near vision activities have been associated with the development of myopia in many studies2-6.
1Zhang X, Qu X, Zhou X. Association between parental myopia and the risk of myopia in a child. Exp Ther Med. 2015 Jun; 9(6):2420-2428.
2Saw SM, Wu HM, Seet B, Wong TY, Yap E, Chia KS, Stone RA, Lee L. Academic achievement, close up work parameters, and myopia in Singapore military conscripts. Br J Ophthalmol. 2001 Jul; 85(7):855-60.
3Saw SM, Hong RZ, Zhang MZ, Fu ZF, Ye M, Tan D, Chew SJ. Near-work activity and myopia in rural and urban school children in China. J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. 2001 May -Jun; 38(3):149-55.
4Vera-Diaz FA, Strang NC, Winn B. Nearwork induced transient myopia during myopia progression. Curr Eye Res. 2002 Apr;24(4):289-95.
5Yi JH, Li RR. Influence of near-work and outdoor activities on myopia progression in school children. Zhongguo Dang Dai Er Ke Za Zhi. 2011 Jan; 13(1):32-5. Chinese.
6Saw SM, Chua WH, Hong CY, Wu HM, Chan WY, Chia KS, Stone RA, Tan D. Nearwork in early-onset myopia. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2002 Feb; 43(2)332-9.
Why controlling myopia is important?
When a child’s myopia progression is not controlled, it will lead to the deterioration of vision which will eventually affect the child’s quality of life. This may also predispose the child to a higher risk of sight threatening conditions such as retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration or glaucoma when the child reaches adulthood.
It might be daunting to know that there has not been any medically proven cure for myopia. Nevertheless, the next best solution is to ensure that the myopia progression in a child is kept in control through the professional care of an Optometrist.
In many instances when a child is found to have myopia, most parents will usually choose to have their child prescribed with a pair of standard lenses to correct the child’s distance vision. While this caters to the functional and immediate needs of the child’s vision, these standard lenses are not able to slow down the myopia progression. Over time, this might result in a much higher prescription or “degree” at a later stage in the child’s life.
When in consultation with an Optometrist, detailed tests are performed to obtain an in-depth understanding of the child’s condition, vision needs and lifestyle. Appropriate solutions will then be recommended to control the child’s myopia progression.
Taking into account the individual needs and lifestyle habits, the following solutions could be recommended by the Optometrist:
1. Myopia Control Lenses – This is a category of specialty lenses that is designed to correct the child’s distance vision while offering the benefit of controlling the myopia progression. In today’s market, there are myopia control lenses which are able to reduce myopia progression by up to 62%7.
2. Orthokeratology (short form: “Ortho-K”) – This is a non-invasive solution which utilizes specially designed contact lenses to gently reshape the front transparent structure of the eye, also known as the cornea to improve the child’s distance vision. To enjoy the benefits of Ortho-K, the contact lenses will usually be worn overnight for the reshaping of the corneas to happen. Vision improvement is usually evident following a night of wear, providing the advantages of convenience and reduced dependence on spectacles.
After the child is prescribed with a myopia control solution, the child will require a regular follow up with the Optometrist. The follow up visits could typically range from every 6 to 12 months, depending on the Optometrist’s recommendation. During these follow-up visits, the Optometrist will repeat the detailed tests to review the prescription or “degree”’ to track and manage the myopia progression accordingly.
7Cheng D, Schmid KL, Woo GC, Drobe B. Randomized trial of effect of bifocal and prismatic bifocal spectacles on myopic progression: two-year results. Arch Ophthalmol. 2010 Jan; 128(1):12-9.
About Myopia Control Centre
At the Myopia Control Centre, there is a panel of professional Optometrists who have many years of experience in managing myopia progression in children. In the course of our practice, we have been working with our patients successfully to understand their vision requirements and prescribing them with solutions that are best suited to their individual needs. We pride ourselves to be the one-stop solution provider for your child’s vision needs.
Contact us at 6736 1303 for an appointment today or visit us at www.woptics.sg.