Self-defense for the eyes -3
In the previous posts (Part 1, Part 2 ) I defined a couple refractive eye conditions (farsighted/nearsighted), talked about vision screenings vs. comprehensive eye examinations and touched upon why children are more susceptible to myopia development. Now, let us continue with the latter theme- myopia development.
You take your child to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye examination. The optometrist says your child’s eyes have gotten worse since last year. As a matter of fact, his eyes have been getting worse for the past three years! So, as a parent, your first thought is your son has to wear thicker eyeglasses. Or, you might start thinking how other children will pick on your son because his thicker eyeglasses. In either case, I’m here to tell you that your child wearing thicker glasses should be the least of your worries. A more impending danger is lurking.
Oh My Opia!
Inside the eye you will find one of the most unique designs of all human anatomy. Therein lies a matrix of blood vessels, nerves and a focusing mechanism; all of which serves as a conduit to transform light energy into electrical impulses that travel to the brain. The end result being that which we call – vision.
In most cases of myopia, the eye elongates in the anterior-posterior direction, along the horizontal axis. It is the outer coating of the eye (sclera) where most of these changes occur in myopia development. The eye structures under the sclera – retina and choroid – does not elongate in the anterior-posterior direction to the same degree as the sclera. But when the sclera does elongate in one direction, but the retina and choroid (see picture above) does not, one can see how a separation of these eye structures could occur. When these eye structures do separate, it is called a retinal detachment; which is often seen in high levels of nearsightedness (myopia).
Now, let us look at one more eye structure (or area) that is effected by the increase in nearsightedness. Take a moment to locate the “Anterior Segment (AS)” in the picture above. As labeled in the picture, the (AS) contains aqueous humor; which is really the fluid inside the eye. Since this fluid is created inside the eye, it also must drain from the eye as it replenishes. I do not want this discussion to turn into an academic exercise on the anatomy and physiology of the eye, so suffice it to say that it is the anterior anatomical part of the eye where this fluid is created, and leaves, the eye. But in case of high levels of nearsightedness, this inward and outward flow is impeded. When this occurs, the pressure inside the eye increases. And this is what you do not want to occur because there are structures inside the eye that are susceptible to damage by high levels of eye pressure. Most notably, the optic nerve (see picture above). Very high eye pressures are strongly related to optic nerve damage and Glaucoma.
Tip of the Eyeceberg
Unfortunately, it takes more than a few blog posts to cover all the intricacies of progressive myopia and its detrimental effects on the eye. But in this blog I wanted to cover two of biggest concerns just to give you a better understanding of why there is a concern in the first place. What you need to know is myopia progression, especially at an early age, could significantly increase the chances of life-long debilitated vision. Not to mention the reduced quality of life, the cost of medical office visits and eyewear purchases.
In the next blog post I will turn the tides of this discussion to give you a few good waves to surf. I will introduce to you a few exciting methods that show great promise in slowing down nearsighted progression and, therefore, protect our children’s eyes.
Talk to you soon.