Shortsighted; How Can We Help?
I am standing in front of a statue of William Wallace. I am eleven years old. I cannot read the inscription. I have become short-sighted: Myopic.
Do you believe in fate? Perhaps you do, maybe you don’t. However, when this moment happens, two things come into my life which will shape my future.
Firstly, visits to the Optician, where I would become fascinated by his world. Secondly, the need to understand how the Optician can fix this short-sightedness.
Fate would prove that this was a job I could do. Lucky to find your path so early? Well for me, yes. However, as a laddie who loved football, my myopia was too strong a handicap. As I become more short-sighted football would sadly pass me by, but I would find another sport (hockey) which would become another great passion of mine.
Later, I would wear soft contact lenses when they become widely available in the seventies. I would become an Optometrist and a hockey coach. My daughter would also receive a myopic diagnosis, so it was even more important for me to understand how to treat her myopia as well as my own.
In the late eighties and early nineties, fitting rigid contact lenses was thought to be the best way to keep the progression of myopia to a minimum. The idea being that as we grow, particularly in puberty and early teenage years, the length of the eyeball increases. This elongation causes more myopia and the wearing of the rigid lenses would help to control this.
Methods today are all about controlling the elongation. The latest technology uses multifocal contact lenses which are made up of control area (which allows clear distance vision) and an outer ring of lenses strength, which cause a small amount of peripheral blur. The patient soon adapts to this and can see well. This blur helps to control the length of the eye, and studies have shown that it can reduce the potential myopia by up to 50%. For example, in a patient who would have normally expected to reach a -6.00 prescription, this treatment could then change the prescription to be as low as -3.00.
Why is it so important to control myopia?
It is well proven that the higher the degree of myopia, the more prone you are to Retinal Detachment Macular Degeneration and glaucoma. It also affects lifestyle as much as high myopia might and it is hard to function without your glasses or contact lenses.
Contact lenses are available in monthly and daily wear. They can be fitted to young patients, especially those around 6-7 years old who are likely to develop high myopia, tackling the issue early on.
You can also seek advice with regards to Laser Eye Surgery, however, your myopia must be stable and usually this is only carried out after your teenage years. Of course, it is a universal procedure, which carries risks and should be considered carefully, so please consult a qualified expert if this is something you would consider.
Ask the Team…
Sandie (our Optometrist) understand myopia after being diagnosed as a child. We welcome you to speak with Sandie and the rest of our expert team, whether with regards to your own vision or that of your children should you have concerns.
Note that as we all spend heavy periods of time looking at phones, tablets, laptops and televisions; we are increasingly at risk of developing myopia. Your vision is important, so please do make an appointment even if you are unsure. You should invest in an eye examination every two years as standard.
I leave you with a wee story recalling a night-out without my trusty specs. There is of course some poetic license…
My pal had a party, a wee get together
a took off ma specs, tae chat and tae blether
But am getting mair short-sighted, every day
and a cannae see much, try as I may
I screw up ma eyes, tae reduce the blur
a still cannae tell if it’s a him or a her
Put on ma specs, a new world tae discover
stop talkin to the statue a thought was ma brother
Apologies to the lass a thought was ma mother
she gives me a kiss, just like a lover
Our specs steam up, cannae see one another
she holds ma hand, a quiet place to find
Am wonderin maself wit she’s got in mind
Thinkin’ this short-sightedness, no bad after all
For a can see clearly now – she could be ma downfall
Colin Simpson B.Sc FBCO
Father of 3, Retired Optometrist, Grandpa, Blogger