Nearsightedness, also called myopia, is becoming an increasingly common eye problem. It is a form of refractive error that causes distance objects to be blurred and difficult to see. It can cause problems for drivers if they are unable to accurately read road signs, or for young students if they are struggling to see the teacher at school. In recent years, our country has seen a significant increase in the number of people diagnosed with nearsightedness, and the amount of myopia seems to be increasing. People are relying more and more on corrective devices to help them see clearly. Glasses, contact lenses, and even forms of myopia control can be used to manage and treat myopia, but many people wonder about the factors that contribute to myopia development, and whether or not anything can be done to address them. Continue reading to learn more about the development of myopia.
Genetics and Myopia (Nearsightedness)
Many studies have shown that genetics plays a role in the development of nearsightedness. Children with a nearsighted parent are statistically more likely to develop myopia. In cases where both parents are nearsighted, the child is significantly more likely to become nearsighted, and will likely have higher amounts of nearsightedness and require a stronger prescription. Race may also play a role in the development of myopia, with Hispanic and Asian ethnic groups being more likely to develop the condition. There is nothing that can be done to change genetics, but understanding the role it plays in the development of myopia can ensure that at-risk children are being regularly examined, and myopia control can be considered at an earlier age for children who may go on to develop large amounts of nearsightedness.
Environmental Influences and Behavioral Factors
Environmental factors may also play a role in the development of myopia, and there are many recent and current studies to determine how big of a role these factors play. Some researchers have suggested that plenty of time outdoors can help reduce the risk of myopia by allowing children to view objects at a wide range of distances and fully relax the optical system of the eye. Other studies have investigated high near-work demands, such as reading, homework, and looking at tablets or smart phones, and the effects they may have in myopic development. Many agree that extended time looking at up-close objects can increase the risk for developing nearsightedness. Even exposure to natural sunlight may play a role in healthy eye development and might result in a decreased risk of nearsightedness.
While some of the environmental factors that contribute to myopia may not be fully understood, it is an important area of research. High amounts of myopia can carry risks to ocular health like an increased risk of cataract formation, macular holes, or even retinal detachments. With the rate at which its prevalence is increasing, the high myopia epidemic is a public health concern. Understanding how it develops, and how we can manage it with approaches like myopia control, are an important aspect of eye care.