Did You Know Myopia Is The Single Largest Vision Impairment?

With the digital age in full swing, and the COVID-19 pandemic causing many inconveniences and troubles, we use our electronic devices for many things nowadays. We use our mobile phones to text, to make calls, to pay for things, to take notes, to search the web, to find directions, to entertain ourselves, and so much more. There are more than forty things that we use our devices for! Every single one of us has to admit, we probably use them more than we should. Many people work or study from home, and therefore spend a lot time looking at their computers. Because of this, more and more people need glasses as their eyesight worsens due to eyestrain from excess use of their devices. And so a new “pandemic” arises with the digital age: the myopia pandemic.

Close-up of a boy holding up his glasses.
You know you have myopia when objects in a distance are blur, but objects close to you are clear.
Image by Freepik from Freepik

Health disclaimer! The information and content in this article should not be used as medical advice or treatment. ALWAYS check with a medical professional if you have medical health concerns.

What Is Myopia?

To put it in simple terms, myopia is a common eye condition where you have difficulty seeing distant objects. Also known as nearsightedness or shortsightedness, people with myopia can see close objects clearly, but find that objects farther away are blurry. Myopia develops rapidly or gradually, often worsening during adolescence or childhood.

Myopia eye chart with 4 degrees of gradual blurriness
This is what a myopic person’s vision would look like, with varying levels of impairment. The “D” stands for dioptre, the measurement of the “power” of the correction.
Content is available under Creative Commons Attribution

What Causes Myopia?

Myopia is caused by two defects in the structure of your eyeball. It happens when the eyeball gets too long (yes the eyeball can elongate) or the cornea (the protective outer layer of the eye) becomes too curved. The shape of your eyeball causes light rays to refract, or bend, incorrectly. The light rays then focus in front of your retina instead of directly on your retina. Children whose parents have myopia have a higher chance of getting it too.

Attached above is an educational video on what causes myopia.

So What’s The Big Deal About Myopia?

If myopia is so common, then why worry so much about it? For many, it might be just a small nuisance, but if the myopia worsens, it could lead to other eye problems. When myopia goes over -5.00 dioptres (the unit of measurement for lenses), the risk for eye diseases rises. The World Health Organisation estimates that half of the world’s population will be myopic by the year 2050, with 1 billion people having high myopia (over -5.00 dioptres). It’s a cause for concern because we only have one pair of eyes which are irreplaceable. If left untreated, high myopia complications can eventually lead to blindness.

Graph chart of the number of people  worldwide affected by select eye conditions that can cause vision impairment. Myopia is the highest on the chart.
Above is a graph chart of the number of people worldwide affected by select eye conditions that can cause vision impairment, with myopia being the highest.
Image by Statista

Ways To Slow Down Myopia

Myopia cannot be cured, but thankfully, there are ways to slow down its progression. With modern technology and some changing of habits, myopic vision is manageable.

Girl having her eye sight tested with phoropter for myopia
By controlling the progression of myopia, you lessen the risk for other potential eye diseases.
Image by Cookie Studio from Freepik

1. Lifestyle Changes

Often, deteriorating eyesight worsens even more because of our bad habits. Try to cut down the time you spend staring at your devices. You strain your eyes when you focus on one thing for too long, so remember to periodically take your eyes off your work/device and look around. Keep a distance between your eyes and whatever you are looking at. Remember to take frequent breaks in between work; go grab a snack or a glass of water. Spend more time outdoors (wear your mask!) and look far into the distance. A helpful guideline is the 20:20:20 rule. Look away every 20 minutes at an object that is about 20 feet (6 metres) away for a full 20 seconds, as by doing so, you relax your eyes.

three girls hiking
Go outside and look far into the distance (but remember to wear your mask!)
Image by MaBraS from Pixabay

2. Myopia Control Contact Lenses And Spectacle Lenses

Myopia control contact lenses are disposable soft contact lenses which cause a myopic defocus. How exactly does it work? Peripheral rays focusing behind the retina cause a hyperopic defocus. Basically, light focuses behind the retina when it should be on the retina. This sends a signal to the brain to elongate the eye, which worsens myopia. However, with the myopia control contact lenses, the peripheral rays are bent into the eyeball, creating a myopic defocus. This cuts off the signal to elongate the eye, therefore controlling the myopia progression. Myopia control spectacle lenses work in a similar way. Do take note that prescription lenses only help in controlling myopia, not managing it.

Woman holding up contact lenses
These are what contact lenses typically look like, along with the lens case.
Image by Freepik from Freepik

3. Orthokeratology Therapy

Ortho-what? Or-tho-ke-ra-to-lo-gy. Or you can just call it Ortho-K. Ortho-K is the use of rigid contact lenses to reshape your cornea. They flatten the cornea so that light rays focus on it correctly. These lenses are specially designed, and you only have to wear them at night, which gives you a day of clear vision after sleeping with Ortho-K lenses on. This is an easy, surgery-free way for people to not wear glasses or contacts all the time. Ortho-K lenses are very effective, and many optometrists may recommend it, but they may be costly.

In this video, an eye doctor explains how Ortho-K contact lenses work.

I Have Myopia Too!

I’m not an adult, but I already have myopia. I have to admit, I spend a lot of time on my devices, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, half of the time I’m just staring at a computer screen because of my online classes. I try to cut back on screen time, but so many things I do involve an electronic device. Even as I’m writing this article, I’m looking at a computer screen! Many of the people I know also have myopia. I bet you know at least five people who are shortsighted. It’s a cause for concern, as many teenagers (and adults) today spend hours upon hours on their devices. This is not only unhealthy for one’s eyes, but it also affects your physical and mental health.

Girl with glasses laughing
Nowadays, many people, even those who are young, need some form of visual aid.
Image by Christin Noelle from Unsplash

Optometrists To The Rescue

Now after reading all that, you might be worried about your eyes. Or not. Still, there is no “safe” level of myopia and it needs to be treated. Well, we know just the people to help you.

Since 2004, Vision Space Optometrist (Vision Space) is dedicated to quality eyecare and helping you attain better eyesight. They work not only to improve your vision, but more importantly, to keep your eyes healthy. The staff are friendly and courteous, and they prioritise your needs above all else. If you have any questions, they’ll be sure to answer them. Vision Space also works closely with qualified professionals, so you’re in good hands!

Vision Space Optometrist store interior
Unlike most optometrists, Vision Space is spacious and inviting, a direct reflection of the friendly staff there.
Image by Vision Space
Mr Woon sitting in front of his eye testing equipment
Mr Woon Pak Seong was the former president of the Association of Malaysian Optometrists. Today, he is one of the six advisors there.
Image by Vision Space

Going through yearly comprehensive eye examination allows optometrists to detect potential eye problems earlier. Therefore, you will be able to receive treatment sooner.

Mr Woon Pak Seong, the founder of Vision Space

Their amazing services include:

1. Comprehensive Eye Examination
2. Eye Health Screening (Cataract, Retinal Screening, Eye Pressure Screening)
3. Paediatric Care (Lazy Eye Screening, Binocular Vision Functions, Colour Vision Tests)
4. Ortho-K Vision Therapy
5. Myopia Control Management
6. Eyewear Styling & Frame Adjustment
7. Multifocal/Progressive Lens Fitting
8. Contact Lens Care & Fitting (Soft Lens, Rigid Gas-Permeable Lens, Keratoconus)
9. Specialty Lens Expert (Prism, Sport Lens, Protective Lens)

They are open from Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can also check them out on Facebook and their website to learn more!

Vision Space branch at SS2.

Vision Space branch at Damansara Uptown.

Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Eyes

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only pandemic today. According to eye care professionals, myopia is considered a pandemic too. Not only does myopia worsen your eyesight, it also increases the risk for eye diseases. It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, especially since many people fail to recognise its severity. You only have one pair of eyes, and they are irreplaceable. But with some lifestyle changes and the technology we have today, it is possible to control the progression of myopia. Spend less time on your electronic devices. Remember to rest your eyes after focusing on something for a long period of time.

So don’t postpone that eye checkup you’ve been putting off. And maybe spend a little less time staring at your devices. In fact, now that you’re done reading this article, go look outside and stretch your legs a little. Take care of your eyes.

Tell us about your vision impairments and what eyecare treatments you may be using in the comment section down below. Or ask a question about something you might be interested in learning more about!

Stay safe and stay healthy!

Are you shortsighted (myopic)? If so, are you using any vision correction?
4 votes

About Hazel LING

Friendly, quirky, and a total whiz with words, Hazel is definitely ahead of the rest of her peers when it comes to reading and writing.

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