Short Sight - Is it the new normal ?
Updated: Jun 21
Short sight is a condition where a person can see things which are at short distance but cannot see things which are at a far distance . It is the most common refractive error in the eye. In medical terms we call this as "Myopia".
What is actually happening in myopia ?
The rays of light emitted by an object traverse the eye and fall in front of the retina.
When the image does not fall exactly on the retina ( film of the eye ) then the resultant image seen by the person will be blurred .
How to correct this error ?
In order to make the person see the image clearly we need to use corrective lenses in the form of concave lenses embedded in spectacles so that a sharp image falls on the retina .
Over the years we have been seeing an accelerated incidence of myopia. By 2050 it has been estimated that nearly 50% of the world population will be myopic.
What causes myopia ? The cause for myopia is usually genetic. If the parents are myopic then there are higher chances that the child will be myopic. However it is also possible that the parents have absolutely normal eyesight and the child still becomes myopic. This could be because of a newly expressed myopia gene or it could be because of a recessive gene which has stayed dormant and has skipped generations before it expresses again.
How is myopia detected ? The diagnosis of myopia should be made very early in life . It is usually observed by the parents at home when the child is not able to recognize the parents from a distance or when the child goes too close to the television or toys in order to see properly . Myopia can also be diagnosed in schools where the child is not able to see matter written on the blackboard and makes silly mistakes or is usually seen copying from the neighboring child.
What are the treatment modalities for myopia ? Once diagnosis is made ,the correction in the form of spectacles should be given immediately and ideally the child has to wear glasses all the time and not just for reading or when viewing the blackboard . Sometimes parents are very reluctant or the child is not very compliant to wear glasses and does not wear glasses properly . In that case after a few years when glass correction is attempted the child is not able to see even with full correction . This is because of a condition called "lazy eye" or "amblyopia" . Hence it is very important to give the spectacle correction to the child early during the formative years when the active neuronal development of the retina and the visual pathway is taking place .
Once the child becomes a teenager she can be given contact lenses and once the power becomes stable then permanent correction and permanent removal of glass power by surgical techniques like Lasik or IOCL ( intra ocular contact lens) can be considered. Of late there has been a very rapid increase in the number of myopes and also the incidence of progressive myopia . Usually the power of the eye stabilizes and stops increasing somewhere around 18 to 20 years of age and if the increase in power continues even into late 20s or sometimes even early 30s this is known as progressive myopia. Some of the factors which are attributed to keeping the myopia gene active and leading to progressive myopia are as follows 1. Excessive close work
Most of our work these days is on close range like on mobiles or laptops. So in order to balance this , children should be encouraged to spend at least one and a half to 2 hours in the sun daily, doing active outdoor activities so that childs eyes are activated to distance viewing also 2. Low vitamin D Optimum levels of vitamin d are important to keep the myopia from progressing rapidly Apart from this it is very important that the parents make sure the child has a balanced diet , gets adequate rest , gets spectacles updated from time to time and also ensure that there is a healthy retina by getting a dilated fundus examination by qualified ophthalmologist year on year Eye exercises or some medicines claiming to reduce eye power are not really scientifically validated and such fads should not be taken seriously
Author: Dr. Jayashree K Bhat (MBBS, DNB - Ophthalmology, Founder & Senior Ophthalmologist)