What is it?
The amount and degree of childhood myopia have increased worldwide. In 2050, it is predicted that half the world's population will be myopic. Australia is not immune to this increasing public health problem.
Myopia is associated with adult eye diseases such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, and macular disease, which are all sight-threatening—the greater the amount of myopia (the longer the eye), the greater the risk.
What is myopia?
How does the eye work?
Myopia is when the focusing power of the eye is too great, and the image is focused in front of the retina (the seeing part inside the eye).
The eye is short in depth (axial length) in childhood and grows to adult size. This makes all children long-sighted (hypermetropic/far-sighted) and therefore see far away well. They can also see close by using the focusing lens in their eye. So initially, all children should have a short eye, and then as they grow, it elongates and should stop when the eye has eliminated being long-sighted. If the eye reaches this point early due to genetics, growth rate, or both, it grows past this point and becomes myopic (short/near-sighted). Progressive myopia is mostly due to the ongoing growth in the length of the eye (axial length).
Genetics plays a large role as it dictates the eye length at birth and how fast it grows in childhood. We now also know that lifestyle factors also play a part in the growth rate of the eye.