It’s certainly a digital world we are living in these days. In 1990, the internet was born, and with that an entirely new digital era began. Shortly afterwards came high speed computers, then digital computer animation in 1998, followed by Microsoft in 1999, the iPhone in 2007 and extremely realistic virtual reality devices of today. With the exponential increase in tech options and the speed with which new tech is created and presented to us, it’s nearly impossible to keep up. We find ourselves and especially our children, in an attempt to stay in line with the latest tech trends, spending more and more time indoors, in front of multiple screens, and less and less time outdoors. Recent research has shown that this amount of screen time, combined with other factors such as less time outdoors, has led to a dramatic increase in Myopia worldwide.
Myopia is the condition commonly known as near or short sighted. It effects 42% of Americans and is the sixth leading cause of blindness. Myopia has emerged as a worldwide public health issue and is 1 of the 5 ocular conditions identified as immediate priorities by the World Health Organization’s Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness. It is estimated that the current number of 2 billion people (2010) with the condition will grow to a staggering 2.6 billion by 2020 and 4.8 billion by 2050.
It’s very easy to say “I’m nearsighted and I’m just fine.” Well, you are the lucky one. High myopia has been shown to cause an almost 300% increase in glaucoma risk, a 1000% increase in risk for retinal detachment, and a much greater risk for developing early cataracts.
This, in conjunction with the social ramifications of having lower quality vision, makes myopia control an important aspect of vision care. Research indicates there are several factors that affect myopia progression. Time spent outdoors has a very strong link to prevention of myopia. Based on the latest research, 2 hours per day of outdoor time in children will significantly lower the rate of myopia onset. Also, there is a correlation with computer/screen time and the progression of myopia.
Luckily, research has also shown there is something we can do to slow down this epidemic and reduce significant visual disability. In addition to spending more time outdoors, there are treatments in office that have been proven to be very effective. These treatments may include specialized eye drops and contact lenses, as well as specialized eyeglasses.
Every patient is different – one treatment does not work for all patients. That is why a specialized Myopia Control Consult is necessary before selecting the best treatment method. For years, many doctors thought that myopia is caused only by genetics, but in the last 15 years or so, there has been dramatic research that has shown this is not the case.
Please contact Clarity Advanced Eyecare at 248-369-3300 for your specialized Myopia Control consultation. Then, get outside and play!
Phillip Elston, OD, FAAO
Owner, Clarity Advanced Eyecare, PLLC