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Exploring the Link Between High Myopia and Serious Eye Diseases

High myopia, also known as severe or pathological myopia, is a condition characterized by a refractive error where the eye is excessively elongated, leading to blurred distance vision.

While myopia is a common refractive error affecting millions worldwide, high myopia presents unique challenges and risks, particularly concerning the development of serious eye diseases. The Eye Doctors at Vision Source Insight Eyecare explain the link between high myopia and various sight-threatening conditions, highlighting the importance of early detection and proactive management.

Definition and Prevalence of High Myopia:

High myopia is typically defined as a refractive error of -6.00 diopters or greater, although the threshold may vary slightly among researchers and clinicians. Unlike low to moderate myopia, which can often be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, high myopia poses a greater risk of ocular complications and vision loss. The prevalence of high myopia is increasing globally, particularly in East Asia, where genetic and environmental factors contribute to its higher incidence. Cases in the US are also on the rise.

Increased Risk of Retinal Detachment:

One of the most serious complications associated with high myopia is retinal detachment. The elongated shape of the eyeball in high myopia predisposes individuals to structural changes in the retina, increasing the risk of retinal tears and detachment. Progressive stretching and thinning of the retina can lead to tractional forces, causing retinal tears that may progress to detachment if left untreated. Patients with high myopia should be vigilant for symptoms such as flashes of light, floaters, or sudden vision loss, as prompt intervention is critical to prevent permanent vision loss.

Degenerative Changes in the Retina:

In addition to retinal detachment, high myopia is associated with various degenerative changes in the retina, collectively known as myopic maculopathy. These changes include macular thinning, lacquer cracks, choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and myopic traction maculopathy (MTM). Myopic maculopathy can significantly impair central vision and lead to irreversible vision loss if left untreated. Regular monitoring of macular health through comprehensive eye examinations is essential for early detection and timely intervention to preserve vision in patients with high myopia.

Increased Risk of Glaucoma:

High myopia is also linked to an elevated risk of developing glaucoma, a progressive optic neuropathy characterized by damage to the optic nerve and visual field loss. The mechanism underlying the association between high myopia and glaucoma is multifactorial and may involve factors such as increased intraocular pressure (IOP), optic nerve head morphology, and structural changes in the posterior segment of the eye. Patients with high myopia should undergo regular screening for glaucoma, including measurement of IOP, optic nerve evaluation, and visual field testing, to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment.

Cataract Formation and Complications:

While cataracts are common in the general population, individuals with high myopia may experience cataract formation at a younger age and exhibit unique challenges during cataract surgery. The presence of high myopia may influence intraocular lens (IOL) selection, surgical technique, and postoperative refractive outcomes. Additionally, patients with high myopia undergoing cataract surgery may be at increased risk of complications such as posterior capsule rupture, vitreous loss, and retinal detachment, highlighting the importance of meticulous preoperative assessment and surgical planning.

Strategies for Management and Prevention:

Given the increased risk of serious eye diseases associated with high myopia, proactive management strategies are essential to preserve vision and prevent complications. Regular comprehensive eye examinations, including ocular imaging modalities such as OCT and fundus photography, play a crucial role in early detection and monitoring of ocular changes. Additionally, lifestyle modifications such as minimizing near work and outdoor activities, along with the use of appropriate refractive correction, may help slow the progression of myopia in children and adolescents.

High Myopia – Vision Source Insight Eyecare

High myopia currently affects 2% of the population and continues to increase. It usually appears during childhood and stabilizes between 20 and 30 years of age and should be closely treated to preserve vision. Early detection, regular monitoring, and proactive management are essential to prevent vision-threatening complications in individuals with high myopia. The Eye Doctors at Vision Source Insight Eyecare have been working closely with patients to ensure positive long-term outcomes.

Serving Myopia Patients from Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Chastain Park and Buckhead. Call Vision Source Insight Eyecare today for an appointment. (404) 250-1680