What is High Myopia?

High myopia, a term you might have heard during your visits to the optometrist, is more than just a fancy term for nearsightedness. It's a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. As an eye disorder, it's not to be taken lightly, and the more we understand about it, the better we can manage it and live fulfilling lives despite its presence.


Understanding High Myopia

High myopia, also known as severe myopia or pathological myopia, is a condition characterized by an extreme degree of nearsightedness. Individuals with this condition have a hard time seeing objects that are far away. The condition is usually diagnosed in childhood and continues to progress as the individual ages.

At the heart of this condition is the elongation of the eyeball. In a normal eye, light enters through the cornea and is focused directly on the retina at the back of the eye. However, in an eye with high myopia, the eyeball is excessively elongated, causing the light to focus in front of the retina, leading to a blurred vision of distant objects. This discrepancy in the shape and length of the eye, combined with genetic factors and environmental influences, contributes to the development of high myopia.


Identifying the Symptoms


Recognizing the symptoms of high myopia is crucial for early detection and treatment. The primary symptom is difficulty in seeing distant objects. This could manifest as blurry vision when looking at distant objects like road signs or television screens. This symptom is often more pronounced in low-light conditions. Additionally, individuals with high myopia may experience frequent headaches due to eye strain, as their eyes constantly strain to focus on far-away objects.

In children, this condition may be noticeable if they frequently squint or sit closer to the television or hold books very close to their face while reading. Another common symptom is the need for frequent changes in prescription glasses or contact lenses due to rapidly worsening vision.

Dangers and Complications Related to High Myopia


High myopia is not just about compromised vision; it also opens up a Pandora's box of potential dangers and complications. The elongation of the eyeball that characterizes this condition can lead to thinning of the retina, making it more susceptible to tears and detachment. When the retina detaches, it pulls away from the layer of blood vessels that provide it with oxygen and nutrients, leading to serious vision loss or even blindness.

Another complication associated with high myopia is the development of myopic macular degeneration. This condition, characterized by atrophy or the formation of new blood vessels in the macula — the part of the eye responsible for detailed vision — can lead to irreversible vision loss.

Glaucoma, a condition characterized by damage to the optic nerve, is also more common in those with high myopia.

The Role of an Optometrist


An optometrist plays a crucial role in diagnosing and managing high myopia. Regular eye examinations are critical for early detection of this condition. During these examinations, the optometrist will assess your vision and eye health and may conduct tests such as a refraction assessment to measure the degree of nearsightedness.

Apart from routine tests, optometrists also use specialized tests to diagnose high myopia. These may include a dilated eye exam, where the optometrist uses eye drops to widen your pupils and examine the retina and optic nerve for signs of damage. If high myopia is suspected, the optometrist may also recommend an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan, which provides a detailed image of the retina to identify any changes or damage.

Treatment Options


While high myopia cannot be cured, there are several treatment options available to manage the condition and prevent complications. Prescription glasses or contact lenses are the most common treatment method, helping to focus light correctly onto the retina.

For those who wish to be free from glasses or contacts, refractive surgery is an option. These surgeries, which include procedures like LASIK and PRK, reshape the cornea to correct the eye's focus. However, it's important to note that these surgeries do not prevent the progression of high myopia or the potential complications associated with the condition.

The Importance of Regular Eye Check-ups


Given the potential complications associated with high myopia, regular eye check-ups are of utmost importance. These check-ups can help detect any vision changes and allow for the timely adjustment of prescription glasses or contact lenses. More importantly, they can help identify early signs of complications such as retinal detachment or glaucoma.

Maintaining Your Eye Health


Life with high myopia can be challenging, but with the right care and precautions, it is manageable. Regular eye check-ups, appropriate corrective measures, and a proactive approach toward eye health can prevent complications and ensure that high myopia does not limit your life.

To learn more about high myopia or to determine if you are at risk, consult our professionals at DaVinci Eye Care in our Warminster, Pennsylvania office. We provide quality eye care services and products for the entire family. Call (215) 443-8580 to schedule an appointment today.