Myopia is projected to affect 52% of the population by 2050 (World Health Organization)
Definition of Myopia:
Myopia (near sightedness) is when objects that are close are clear while objects that are far away are blurry. The higher the myopia (or the prescription) the closer the patient has to hold an object to focus it clearly.
Anatomically speaking, myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long (this is in MICRONS, so you can't tell someone has a longer eyeball just by looking at them!). When light hits the front of a myopic eye it focuses just in FRONT of the retina which leads to a blurry image. Glasses correct this so the light focuses ON the retina leading to a clear image.
The Role of Outdoor Activity in Myopia (ROAM) study found children who spent less than one hour outside per day showed significantly faster eye growth (increasing myopia) compared to those children who were outdoors for at least an hour per day.
The most interesting part of this study was that the amount of time spent doing near work did NOT impact myopia progression. Meaning that the kids who were outside for an hour could still do the same amount of screen time as those who remained indoors and there was no difference in progression.
And of course anytime you are out in the sun appropriate sun wear is key to keeping the eye healthy!
Alternative ways to help control myopia progression:
Atropine is a drop that dilates the pupil and paralyzes accommodation (focusing). Research has shown that myopia progression may be caused by focusing fatigue so by paralyzing this muscle it has been shown to decrease myopia progression. However once the therapy is stopped the progression continues and may not make a big difference to a patient in the long run.
These are rigid (hard) contact lenses that are worn at night and reshape the front of the eye (cornea). With prolonged use the effects last through the next day thereby eliminating a patients need for glasses. They are custom made to fit a patients cornea/prescription needs.
Children who wore Ortho-K lenses for 2 or more years showed approximately 50% less myopia progression compared to children who had no treatment
Multifocal Contact Lenses
These are soft contact lenses with a distance prescription and a near prescription to help with focusing. After 6 months one study had found a 50% reduction in myopia progression compared to children who had no intervention.
These work just like the contact lens therapy to reduce myopia progression. They may have a line (bifocal) or have no line (progressive).
Further information on the above therapies can be found here