Myopia is the world’s most common refractive error, affecting over 1.9 billion people on planet Earth. However, at least 70 million of those people suffer from an extreme form of the condition known as high myopia, which can cause additional health risks and more severe vision problems.
What’s the difference between myopia and high myopia—and what puts a person at risk for the latter? Our experience helping countless patients with all levels of myopia management has provided us with some critical insights. We’ll give you the details below, along with suggestions for managing this serious condition if it affects you or someone you love.
Myopia is characterized by an eyeball that is longer than usual. When your eyeball is too long, incoming light focuses in front of your retina instead of focusing on it directly. As a result, your vision will blur when viewing objects at a distance.
Most eye doctors agree that myopia results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In addition to a family history of myopia, the following factors are linked to increased risk for this condition:
Myopia is measured in dioptres (D), with higher numbers representing greater severity. A minus sign (-) is placed in front of the number to indicate that lenses are needed to correct nearsightedness.
Any myopia that affects your eye’s focusing power up to -6.00 dioptres is known as simple myopia, but myopia over -6.00 dioptres is classified as high myopia instead. High myopia is more likely to affect people of Asian or Middle Eastern descent and is also associated with the following conditions:
Put simply, high myopia is often caused by factors beyond a person’s control. However, animal trials have demonstrated that myopia can be induced when eyes are deprived of proper vision—and the longer they are deprived, the more severe myopia becomes.
What does that mean for you? It means that while you can’t eliminate the risk of myopia for yourself or your loved ones, you can reduce it by taking better care of your eyes. Scheduling regular eye exams with a qualified optometrist is an excellent way to screen for myopia so that you can begin managing its symptoms if it appears, and vision therapy may help reduce this condition’s severity or slow its progress.
Simple myopia requires corrective lenses to restore clear vision but may not lead to additional eye problems. However, high myopia has been shown to increase the risk of developing numerous severe eye diseases and other conditions such as:
Many of these conditions are associated with aging, but high myopia makes it more likely that they will develop earlier in your lifetime. For this reason, it is vital to seek out a qualified and experienced eye doctor for help managing high myopia if you or someone in your family has it.
High myopia doesn’t just cause challenges focusing on faraway objects; it also has the potential to impact your future ocular health and vision in significant ways. Make sure to schedule routine eye exams with your eye doctors to watch for signs of myopia and take decisive action to manage high myopia if it appears in your family.