By Published On: 18 October 20213.2 min read

Myopia can cause eye diseases by stretching the delicate tissues of the eye. Indeed, Myopia happens when the eye grows unusually long (from front to back). This means the lens inside the eye can not focus light on the retina correctly, so distant objects look out of focus. The way to correct this short-sightedness is with a pair or glasses or contact lenses. However, it’s also important to monitor for eye dieases.

Cross section of a normal eye and an eye with myopia.

In fact, the elongation of the eye can cause problems. The delicate tissues of the eye stretch and thin as the eye gets longer. This greatly increases the risk of eye diseases like cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment and disease of the macula.

Retinal detachment is the most serious myopia eye disease

Retinal detachment is arguably the most serious of eye diseases associated with myopia. Indeed, it is a potentially sight-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention.

Myopia can cause retinal detachment. This happens as the eye grows longer, stretching and thinning everything, including the retina. The result can be retinal tears or retinal detachment.

Even a small amount of myopia (up to -3 dioptres) can result in a three-fold risk of retinal detachment. At -6 dioptres the risk is 20-times that of the normal population. By -9 dioptres the risk is over 45-times normal.

Preventing retinal detachment is crucial in preserving vision. This can be done by slowing or even stopping the progression of myopia. So it is importnat that patients with myopia have regular eye tests to monitor their condition. These eye tests usually involve dilating the pupil to examine the peripheral retina.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a progressive disease of the optic nerve head. This eye disease usually occurs in about 2% of the population, but among myopia sufferers it is much more common. In fact, 8% of people with myopia also have glaucoma.

The streching of the eye in myopia causes glaucoma by damaging the retinal nerve fibres.

Glaucoma can be well-managed, but there are no early symptoms. So it’s important to get regular eye tests with an optometrist.

Cataracts

Cataract is an eye disease that occurs more frequently in people with myopia. The cause is not entirely clear, however optometrists think a longer than normal eye deprives the crystalline lens of nutrients.

Symptoms include blurred vision, glare, and changes in spectacle prescription. Cataracts are easily picked up in routine eye examinations.

Cataracts can be treated with eye surgery. However, people with myopia often have more complications associated with cataract surgery. In particular, they have increased risk of retinal detachment. Also, it can be harder to calculate the power of the intraocular lens, leading to less accurate results in terms of spectacle independence. So, if you have myopia it is important to choose an experienced surgeon for your surgery.

It’s also worth noting that there is clinical evidence that femto-cataract surgery (using a laser to replace some of the manual steps of the procedure) can reduce the risk of retinal detachment.

Macula disease

The macula is the most sensitive part of the central retina inside the eye. It is responsible for all central vision, including the details of reading and facial recognition. Damage to the macula is devastating for eye sight as well as quality of life.

Even moderate myopia increases the risk of macula disease 10 to 40 times.

As with the other eye diseases associated with myopia, regular eye tests are the best defence against vision loss.

Preventing eye diseases caused by myopia

Anyone developing myopia should discuss myopia control with their optometrist. Strategies such as Atropine eye drops, ortho-k and multifocal contact lenses are all effective in slowing or even halting the progression of myopia.

If you are concerned about myopia then talk to our experts. Call The Eye Practice on (02) 9290 1899 or make an appointment online today.

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