What is your first worry when it comes to your child wearing glasses or contacts? Is it the annoyance of making sure they care for those contacts or the worry that your child may break their glasses on the playing field? Many parents treat myopia (nearsightedness) as an inconvenience even though the condition has serious consequences for eye health. Progressive myopia in a child, if left untreated may develop into high myopia. High myopia is a severe level of nearsightedness. As a patient’s myopia progresses into higher prescriptions each year there is a greater risk of retinal detachment or ocular diseases such as myopic macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and more later in life. In this blog we will be sharing the long-term consequences of progressive myopia.
According to a World Health Organization report, uncorrected myopia is the leading cause of vision impairment!
The Danger of Myopic Macular Degeneration
High myopia causes the eye to stretch, damaging the retina. This damage to the retina can become Myopic Macular Degeneration (MMD). A child with -5 D or more has a 40X higher risk for developing MMD later in life! This irreversible side effect of myopia should be enough to bring the condition to parents’ attention. MMD was reported as the major cause of new cases of blindness in Tajimi, Japan and in Shanghai, China. If the world discovered a leading cause of cancer or asthma tomorrow, parents would not sleep on prevention or proactive treatment.
The Threat of Retinal Detachment
What exactly is a retinal detachment? The name is self-explanatory as the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue that sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain) detaches from its normal position. If this condition is not treated, then it can cause permanent vision loss. Retinal detachment is considered a medical emergency. Some symptoms to know about are an increase in the number of floaters in your field of vision, light flashes in the eye, or the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision. A child with high myopia of -5 D or more is almost 22X more likely to experience retinal detachment when older.
High Myopia and its Link to Glaucoma
Someone with a prescription of −5 D or more is almost 15X as likely to develop glaucoma. Glaucoma can develop slowly and without pain or loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause someone to gradually lose their peripheral (side) vision. Without regular eye exams by an eye care professional, glaucoma can progress, losing peripheral vision until it is too late. Glaucoma can only be slowed, not cured. Because of these increased risk factors it is important for myopia to be treated as soon as possible in a child.
Risk of Premature Cataracts
Myopia is related to premature cataracts, a condition that used to be associated with those over 60 years of age. Now cataracts are forming earlier among 40 and 50-year-olds. Cataracts are when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy over time, resulting in blurred vision. Some common signs of cataracts are hazy and blurred vision, increasing difficulty with vision at night, sensitivity to light or glare, need for brighter light for reading, frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions, fading or yellowing of colors, and double vision in a single eye. A child with -5 D or more has a risk factor of 5.5X for developing cataracts in their adult life.
Myopia Has Long-Term Consequences
Myopia is causing populations around the world to develop vision conditions younger and younger. Myopia can impair a child’s ability to learn and offers physical restraints if a child needs to resort to glasses.
Thankfully, there are treatments available for children and adults who have myopia. Paragon CRT® Lenses offer treatment by gently reshaping the cornea while your child is sleeping. CRT® Lenses are a non-invasive and liberating option for kids with myopia. Your child can play soccer, volleyball, tag, or any activity without the limitations of glasses and contacts. On top of this freedom is sharp, clear daytime vision and the peace-of-mind that your child’s nearsightedness is being treated.
[1, 3, 5, 6, 8] D.I. Filtcroft, Progress in Retinal and Eye Research 31 (2012) 622-660
[2, 4] Holden, B. A., Mariotti, S. P., Kocur, I., Resnikoff, S., He, M., Naidoo, K., & Jong, M. (2015, March 16-18). The Impact of Myopia And High Myopia (Rep.). doi:http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/MyopiaReportforWeb.pdf
 Xu L, Wang Y, Wang S, Wang Y & Jonas JB, ‘High Myopia and Glaucoma Susceptibility:The Beijing Eye Study’ Ophthalmology, Volume 114, Issue 2, February 2007; Praveen MR,Shah GD, Vasavada AR, Mehta PG, Gilbert C & Bhagat G ‘A study to explore the risk factors for the early onset of cataract in India’, Eye, 24, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19521430)
*All images are for illustration purposes only