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What’s Worse For Your Vision: High Myopia (Nearsightedness) or Smoking?

cigarette 110849 640While the detrimental effects of smoking on the lungs and heart are widely known, many aren’t aware that its impact on vision is just as profound. Myopia, on the other hand, is commonly viewed as a benign refractive error that simply requires correction with prescription lenses. The truth is, however, that both myopia progression and smoking increase the chances of developing serious eye diseases that can lead to vision loss.

Here’s the good news — the risks to vision associated with smoking and myopia progression in children are potentially preventable. Just as a chain-smoker can kick the habit to improve eye health, myopia management programs offered at The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors can dramatically lower their child’s risk of developing serious ocular diseases later in life.

Let’s Compare Smoking to Myopia Progression

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the eye’s natural lens begins to cloud, causing hazy or blurred vision. Certain factors can contribute to the onset and severity of the condition, such as advanced age, obesity, eye injury, high myopia, and smoking. In fact, according to a recent study, smokers are 2 times more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers.

However, children with medium to high myopia are 5 times more likely to develop cataracts later in life than non-myopic children.

Macular Degeneration

Smoking is the largest controllable factor that contributes to macular degeneration. Studies show that those who smoke are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers.

Myopic macular degeneration (MMD) is caused by a severe eye elongation and retinal stretching — such as in high myopia — which leads to a damaged macula (the small portion of the retina responsible for detailed central and color vision). The higher the myopia, the greater the risk of developing MMD.

Retinal Detachment

The harmful properties in cigarettes can cause uveitis — an inflammation of the uvea (the eye’s middle layer). Uveitis can lead to retinal detachment, which separates the retina from the layers beneath it. This causes field vision loss, floaters, light flashes, and in severe cases — complete vision loss. Smoking more than doubles the chances of developing this condition.

There also is a causal relationship between myopia and retinal detachment. A child with mild myopia is 21 times more likely to develop retinal detachment, whereas a child with high myopia is 44 times more likely to suffer from this serious condition.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the United States and Canada, occurs when ocular fluid places pressure on the eye, damaging the optic nerve. A few risk factors for glaucoma include high blood pressure, cataracts, and diabetes — all of which are linked to smoking. By kicking the smoking habit, one significantly reduces the risks of developing this vision-robbing condition.

Similarly, children with medium to high myopia are 5 times more likely to develop glaucoma than non-myopes.

What’s worse for your vision? High myopia (nearsightedness) or smoking? from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

How Can Myopia Management Help?

As adults, many of us take actions to maintain good health and preserve our vision, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking. Let’s do the same for our children. As depicted above, smoking is as dangerous for the eyes as rapidly progressing myopia.

If your child’s prescription rapidly deteriorates, contact The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors for a consultation. Let us help your child diminish the risk of developing ocular disease and vision loss with our effective myopia management program.

Dr. Michael Rosenblatt serves patients from Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Arlington, Chevy Chase, and throughout District of Columbia.

References

https://www.allaboutvision.com/smoking/

https://www.everydayhealth.com/vision-center/the-aging-eye/tips/smoking-ups-risk-for-age-related-vision-loss.aspx

https://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/myopia-progression.htm

Is There a Cure for Nearsightedness?

Our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye doctors explain what can be done about myopia in kids

Many parents wonder if there is a cure for nearsightedness, also known as myopia. Or maybe there’s a treatment to eliminate a child’s need for stronger glasses each year?

In response – there is presently no scientific evidence to back up the claims of various miracle treatments to cure myopia. Programs that attest to the power of eye exercises to reverse myopia and naturally treat nearsightedness are not supported by any well-designed independent research.

However, many recent studies do suggest that kids’ myopia can be controlled (not cured) by slowing its progression. An eye exam is the first necessary step to determine your child’s candidacy for myopia control. At Washington Eye Doctors, our eye doctors perform thorough pediatric eye exams to assess whether myopia control is recommended.

Myopia is not an eye disease

Nearsightedness is a refractive error caused by the elongation of the eyeball. Due to this elliptical shape, light that enters the eye doesn’t focus on the retina at the back of the eye. Instead, light is focused in front of the retina, thereby blurring the sight of any objects in the distance. Prescription glasses and contact lenses offer effective treatment for nearsightedness, but they are not a cure – and they don’t prevent myopia from getting worse.

Intro to myopia control

Myopia control treatments can lead to changes in the structure and focusing ability of the eye, thereby slowing the progression of myopia. Why is this important? Because myopia control can help prevent your child from developing high levels of nearsightedness, which not only require thick eyeglasses lenses – but have also been linked to serious eye problems later in life, such as a detached retina and cataracts.

Types of myopia control

At our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye care center, we administer kids’ eye exams gently and comprehensively to diagnose their precise vision prescription and determine the most suitable type of myopia control.

Currently, there are four types of myopia control treatment in use:

1.Orthokeratology

Ortho-k lenses are specialized rigid gas permeable contacts that are worn only while sleeping. They correct refractive error by gently reshaping the cornea temporarily. Typically, ortho-k is used to enable people with nearsightedness to see clearly during the daytime – without any prescription eyewear. But eye doctors are increasingly using orthokeratology as a means for myopia control in kids. Studies suggest that myopic kids who wear ortho-k lenses for a few years may have less myopia as adults, in contrast to children who wear regular glasses or contacts during the years when myopia can progress rapidly.

2.Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses have different lens powers in different zones. While the conventional use of multifocal contacts is to correct presbyopia, eye care professionals have found that these specialty lenses can also be an effective method of myopia control for kids.

3.Multifocal Eyeglasses

Multifocal glasses are another option for controlling nearsightedness in children, but the results are not as impressive as with other types of myopia control.

4.Prescription eye drops

Prescription eye drops can be used to relax the eye’s focusing mechanism, thereby controlling myopia. Research studies have shown that during the first year of treatment with prescription eye drops, the progression of nearsightedness dropped by an average of 81%. However, the effects seem to diminish after the first year of treatment. Prescription eye drops are also associated with specific uncomfortable side effects, which is one reason why many eye doctors are hesitant to prescribe this treatment for kids.

Eye exams enable early detection of nearsightedness

The best way for your kid to benefit from myopia control is to diagnose nearsightedness as early as possible! Even if a child isn’t complaining about any visual problems, regular pediatric eye exams are critical – especially if there’s a family history of nearsightedness. The sooner myopia is detected, the sooner our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye doctors can assess candidacy for myopia control.

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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Nearsightedness & Farsightedness – What Do They Mean?

Your Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye doctor explains

Nearsightedness and farsightedness, officially termed myopia and hyperopia – respectively, are both refractive vision conditions. That means they are both caused by refractive errors, which are ocular disorders that affect the eye’s ability to properly focus light on the retina. The retina is the membrane that forms the back layer of the eyeball.

Nearsightedness occurs when the light that enters the eye falls short of the retina. Typically, this happens because the eyeball is elongated. As a result, objects in the distance look blurry to people with myopia. However, vision of near objects remains unaffected. Nearsightedness generally develops during childhood, deteriorates during the teenage years, and stabilizes once the person reaches young adulthood.

Farsightedness is basically the opposite of nearsightedness. Usually, it results from having an eyeball that is too short. As a result, light is focused behind the retina instead of directly on it. For people with mild to moderate farsightedness, close objects appear blurred, while objects in the distance are still sharp. However, high amounts of farsightedness may interfere with clear vision at all distances. Children are typically born farsighted, but as they grow and develop, their eyeballs lengthen and the hyperopia decreases.

Diagnosis of myopia and hyperopia – visit an eye doctor near you

While nearsightedness and farsightedness can cause symptoms, such as headaches, squinting, eye strain, and fatigue, these symptoms alone are not sufficient for making a firm diagnosis.

Both of these vision conditions can be detected during an eye exam performed by a qualified eye doctor. As a part of every eye exam, visual acuity will be tested. You will need to read a basic Snellen eye chart, and your eye doctor will test refraction in order to determine your precise vision prescription for glasses or contact lenses.

Treatment for nearsightedness and farsightedness

Corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses are both effective ways to treat nearsightedness and farsightedness. The prescription lenses work by altering the path of light as it bends into the eyes.

When children experience progressive myopia, a variety of methods for myopia control may be suitable. Myopia control treatment can eliminate the need to buy new glasses or contacts yearly, and it can help reduce children’s risk for eye disease in the future. To find out about your child’s candidacy for myopia control, consult a qualified eye doctor and book an eye exam near you.

It is common for myopia and hyperopia to stabilize once people reach their twenties. Once that occurs, refractive laser surgeries – such as LASIK and PRK – become options for treatment. These procedures can permanently resolve nearsightedness and farsightedness by reshaping the cornea to focus light properly on the retina.

Can vision therapy help with nearsightedness and farsightedness?

Clear and fully functional vision depends on more than just sharp visual acuity. Eyesight, the brain, and visual pathways all need to work in sync with each other. When this doesn’t happen, a person can find it difficult to see – even with 20/20 vision. That’s where the role of vision therapy enters the picture.

Vision therapy helps people with particular eye conditions develop the visual skills needed for clear sight, such as:

  • Strabismus (crossed eyes)
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Computer vision
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Learning related visual problems (poor eye teaming and focusing)
  • Sports vision improvement

Optic devices and custom-designed exercises are used to strengthen the eye-brain connection, so eye mobility is enhanced. The person learns how to efficiently process visual cues that the eyes send to the brain. Therefore, vision therapy will not help to treat a refractive vision condition, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.


At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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