WHAT IS MYOPIA?
Myopia is a common eye condition that results in poor or blurred vision when viewing in the distance. It is also known as near-sightedness or short-sightedness because people with myopia can still see things clearly that are close but do not see distant objects clearly, such as the blackboard or words on the television. They may also have trouble recognising people in the distance. Myopia usually begins in school-age children and can continue to progress until the eye stops growing. Teenagers and adults can also develop myopia. In myopic eyes, commonly, the length of the eyeball is longer than it should be, causing images of distant objects to be focused in front of rather than on the light sensitive layer of the eye known as the retina.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR MYOPIA?
Of the many factors found associated with myopia, such as ethnicity, parental myopia and urban living, two factors are significant and found to be causally related:
a. near work and education: the greater the time spent on near work, the greater the risk of myopia – both onset and progression. In children of the same age, those who were in a higher class/grade at school (greater academic load) have a more myopic refractive error.
b. less time outdoors: those who spend less time outdoors are at significant risk of myopia.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF MYOPIA?
The most obvious sign of myopia is that objects in the distance appear blurry. Some children may report headaches and/or eye fatigue caused by the eyes straining to focus or having to move or sit closer to activities (for example, in the classroom) to see clearly.
Myopia usually develops during childhood, so parents should start to check behaviours, such as sitting too close to the television or screens or books, holding screens close to the face or squinting when looking at objects. Observant teachers may also notice children who have difficulty reading the blackboard.
Myopia often progresses through childhood and at times into teenage years and early adulthood. Progression is recognised by distance vision getting blurry despite correction.