Myopia – also known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness – is a common eye condition affecting many Australians

Myopia means distant objects are blurry, leading to squinting, eyestrain, headaches, excessive blinking, eye rubbing and sometimes poor school performance or behavioural issues.

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Myopia can also lead to a decreased quality of life due to poorer vision. Myopia should be diagnosed and managed from an early age to prevent these conditions.

Myopia commonly presents in school aged children or teenagers and progression often continues until the late 20’s.

Myopia is prevalent during this time as this is when children’s bodies are growing. Like any part of the body, the eye also needs to grow. However, if the eye continues to grow longer than it needs too, myopia forms. The longer the eye grows, the higher the prescription needed in corrective glasses and the thicker the lens.

Why the eye continues to grow, is not fully understood, but we are aware of some risk factors that may contribute which include:

  • Increased time indoors, especially on close work and at a younger age.
  • Strong family history, you have an approximately 1 in 3 chance if on of your parents is myopic and a 2 in 3 chance if two parents are myopic.
  • Asian ethnicity.
  • Academically focused.

What are the Risks of Myopia?

Myopia, whilst a common condition, has potentially serious complications. As the myopic eyeball length is physically longer, it is stretched and weaker.  A stretched and weak eye can lead to four main events:

  1. Retinal detachment. The retina (part of eye responsible for seeing) comes away from its normal position lining the back of the eye, which if untreated, can cause complete loss of vision in the effected eye.
  1. Myopic Macular Degeneration. The macula (responsible for clear central vision) when stretched can cause tears and bleeding. This leads to reduced vision, needing treatment with eye injections.
  1. Glaucoma. When the back of the eye is stretched the nerve which takes information from the eye to the brain is damaged. This damages peripheral vision first and eventually comes in to affect central vision.
  1. Cataract. A clouding of the lens typically caused by UV damage over many years. Myopia has been linked to accelerating this process.