Better known as nearsightedness, myopia is among the most common refractive errors of the eye. Myopia is believed to affect 30-40 % of adults in Europe and the United States, and closer to 80% of adults in Asia. While the condition is common, that does not mean it isn’t dangerous; there are risks of developing additional eye issues if myopia is not diagnosed and appropriated treated. Understanding the signs of myopia can help you get proper treatment and can also help prevent any further complications.
The most common cause of myopia is the elongation of the eye, which makes the eye lens concentrate perceived images in front of the retina, whereas a normal eye will focus the image on the retina. Myopia can also be caused by a cornea that is too curved or a lens that is too thick for the eye. Regardless of the exact cause, myopia makes it difficult for people to perceive that which is far away, but it does not usually affect their ability to see things nearby.
It is believed that excessive screen time and spending too much time indoors can accelerate the development of myopia, so taking precautions to limit the amount of time you spend using electronic devices and remaining inside can help prevent the condition from worsening.
Signs of Myopia in Children
The most effective means of identifying the signs of myopia in children is for them to undergo an eye exam, but there are other recognizable behaviors that can indicate the onset of nearsightedness. If a child insists on sitting close to a television or near the front of the class, it may be because they are unable to see the screen or front of the classroom from a distance. If they squint while looking at distant objects, complain of frequent headaches, or hold books and other objects close to their face, it is possible they are suffering from myopia.
Scheduling an eye exam will confirm whether or not they are nearsighted, and if they are, corrective lenses will be the simplest way to correct their vision and remedy their symptoms. As myopia is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 8 and 12, it is important to observe children and address any concerns regarding their vision as early as possible.
There are roughly three categories of myopia severity ranging from mild, moderate, and high myopia. They are organized by a degree of nearsightedness, measured in diopters, and the higher the number, the more severe the myopia. It is important to understand this categorization because of the potential health risks and complications that can result from myopia; though mild myopia does not often pose an increased risk of developing eye conditions, both moderate and high myopia are associated with cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.
Though not exactly common, retinal detachment can occur as a complication of myopia. Experiencing a sudden influx of floaters—which are small specks or shapes that seemingly drift across your field of vision and quickly move away if you try to directly look at them—, flashes of light, or an abnormal shadow are indicators that you should see a doctor. If left untreated, retinal detachment can result in a loss of vision.
Though myopia can be a serious condition, it is very much treatable. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of myopia is crucial to getting proper treatment and addressing any potential risk for the development of additional, more severe health conditions and complications.