Myopia Progression: What Is It?

myopia progression

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a recognized global health issue that shows cases rising rapidly worldwide, most prominently in children over the last two decades. Studies show by 2050, approximately half the world’s population will be nearsighted.

Slowing Myopia Progression is an Urgent Priority for Eye Care Professionals

The younger a child is diagnosed with myopia, the faster it tends to progress the more it becomes severe. However, myopia does not just affect children. Over 20% of adults experience progressive myopia as well. Stopping the myopia progression is critical to protecting overall eye health and reducing the risk other serious ocular diseases. Myopia increase the risk of developing glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and myopic macular degeneration. Myopia progression is noted by a substantial increase in nearsightedness that continues to worsen each year which accompanies elongation of the eye.



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What Causes Myopia?

Myopia in children is commonly caused by excessive eye growth that results in elongation of the eye from the front to the back. It also occurs when the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is too curved in proportion to the eyeball. The myopic eye focuses an image at the front of the retina instead of directly on the retina, resulting in blurred vision. Primary causes of myopia include:

  • Genetics – significant evidence shows that many people inherit myopia or the predisposition for developing the condition.
  • A sharp increase in digital device usage from an early age.
  • Prolonged tasks that are at a limited distance, including reading, writing, or computer use.
  • Limited time spent outdoors where eyes can focus off into the distance.

How Myopia Severity is Measured

Myopia is a refractive error or a condition that causes blurry vision. Like all refractive errors, myopia is measured in optical units called diopters (D). Severe myopia is known as high myopia; its severity is often illustrated in this way:

  • Low myopia: -0.50 D to -5.75 D
  • High myopia: -6.00 D and greater

Any degree of myopia can increase a person’s risk for serious complications later in life that can threaten vision and optical health. The risk for these issues increases as myopia progresses. When myopia-related eye conditions develop or vision loss occurs due to myopia, high myopia is then classified as pathological myopia. Pathological myopia is a subgroup of myopia that affects approximately 3% of the world’s population.



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How Myopia is Treated

Fortunately, there are excellent treatments available that not only correct vision impairments caused by myopia, but some can also slow myopia progression:

  • Eyeglasses are the primary choice for vision correction for most people with myopia. Depending on the severity of myopia, glasses may only be necessary for specific activities, such as driving or watching a movie. Those with severe myopia may need to wear them all the time.
  • Contact lenses offer vision correction and a wider visual field than eyeglasses. However, each patient must be examined to determine if they are a good candidate for contact lenses, as they are worn directly on the eyes and require proper care. Center-distance multifocal contact lenses can correct vision and also slow the progression of myopia.
  • Ortho-K or corneal refractive therapy (CRT) is an excellent option for myopia treatment as it is a nonsurgical method that involves the patient to wear a series of custom-designed, rigid contact lenses that work to gradually reshape the curvature of the cornea or the front surface of the eye. As these lenses apply gentle pressure on the cornea to flatten it, the way light enters the eye is focused differently, effectively providing vision correction. This treatment not only corrects vision when the lens is removed in the morning but it also slows growth of the eye and therefore the progression of myopia.
  • Atropine eye drops can slow myopia progression and are often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as ortho-k lenses.


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What Can You Do to Prevent Myopia and Protect Your Vision?

Preventative measures can go a long way for children at high risk of progressive myopia due to genetic predisposition, early age onset, extended periods of computer or digital device work, and other activities that take place up close. Here are some effective measures to take to prevent myopia:

  • Encourage children to spend more time outdoors, ideally 90 minutes daily.
  • Restrict use of digital devices outside of school or work.
  • Teach children the 20-20-20 rule by having them look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
  • Schedule regular eye exams for the whole family so that any vision impairments or ocular conditions can be found and treated early.

Are you concerned about visual impairments your child may be experiencing? Schedule an eye exam at Miami Contact Lens Institute as soon as possible, as early detection is key to stopping myopia progression in its tracks and protecting your child’s vision for years to come.

Testimonial from Deniza, Satisfied Myopia Patient
I always have a great experience visiting Aventura office. Dr. Kramer and her staff are very knowledgeable and helpful. I know that my eye health is in great care.

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