Myopia is commonly known as “short-sightedness”. A person with myopia is able to see close objects clearly but objects that are further away will appear blurred.
When the normal eye looks at an object, light rays from the object enter our eye. These light rays are bent at the cornea and the eye lens before forming an image on the inner layer of the eye called the retina. This image is then transmitted by nerve signals to the brain. The brain interprets these signals so that we see the object.
If the light rays are focused directly on the retina, we see a sharp image. Myopia occurs when the light rays from distant objects are focused in front of the retina instead of on it, resulting in blurred images on the retina. This is usually because the eyeball is too long or sometimes the cornea and lens do not bend the light rays properly.
Myopia is the state of refraction in which parallel rays of light from a distant object focus not on the retina, but in front of it.
Complications of Severe Myopia
The worse or higher the myopia, the greater the risk of complications. Myopia is a major cause of blindness worldwide. Blindness from severe myopia tends to strike individuals during their most productive years.
- Amblyobia or “lazy eye”
Amblyobia can happen in young children when there is a big difference in the degree of myopia between the two eyes. The brain ignores the image from the weaker eye to prevent blurred vision. As a result, the weaker eye does not develop properly and will never see well if the condition is not detected and treated early. Undetected myopia before the age of 6 years can lead to amblyopia (lazy eye) and could eventually lead to even blindness in the affected eye.
- Retinal Detachment
People with severe myopia can develop retinal detachment. This happens when the retina becomes separated from the eyeball. This complication can lead to blindness.
- Macular Degeneration
This condition can occur when there is severe myopia. This most sensitive area of the retina, the macula, degenerates. The central area of one’s vision will be affected.
Severe myopia can also lead to an increased fluid pressure within the eyeball. This condition is known as glaucoma. If untreated, it can lead to blindness
People with severe myopia have a higher chance of developing cataracts or opacity of the lens at an earlier age. Cataracts reduce vision.
Prevention of Myopia
Doctors and researchers have not discovered how to completely prevent myopia. However, continuous near work, such as reading, writing and using the computer, appears to be an important environmental factor in the development of myopia. Doctors and researchers believe that it is important to limit the duration of continuous near work. When doing near work, children should be encouraged to take regular vision breaks.
Since current research evidence shows that an important environmental factor is near work, it is important for the children to take regular vision breaks of 3 to 5 minutes after 30 to 40 minutes of near work by looking at distant objects. This limits the duration of continuous near work and may help to delay the early onset of myopia in young children.