Can myopia lead to blindness?
The prevalence of myopia is increasing at an alarming rate in the world. Especially in East-Asia including Japan where more than 80 % of youngsters have myopia. The latest research indicates, that the risk of having vision impairment is higher. The reason is the elongation of "the eyeball".
What is Myopia?
The eyeball usually has a round form. In case of myopia, the eyeball elongates towards the back, forming an ellipse. Due to this eyeball elongation, focus on the retina is not possible and things look blurry.
When the eyeball elongates, your vision is not only impaired, but the retina and optic nerve are burdened due to the retina which is pulled constantly. This is why there is a higher risk of having diseases like retinal detachment, glaucoma and macula which could lead to vision impairment.
Myopia treatment and its prevention.
Unfortunately, once the eyeball is lengthened, it can no longer return to its original size. It's therefore essential not to be short sighted. In particular, measures are especially important during the elementary school and high school period when the eye growths and myopia is becoming more important. Currently, a variety of research is being conducted worldwide, but at present epidemiological studies have shown that "outdoor activities" are effective to prevent myopia.
4000 American pupils have been surveyed over a period of 10 years. This study showed that children having both myopic parents and spending less than 1 hour a day outdoors, have 60 % chance to become myopic. However, when children spend more than 2 hours a day outdoors, the risk of having myopia diminishes greatly. We obtain the same result with children having one myopic parent. In other words, genetics affect myopia, but more than this factor, outdoor activities have a big impact on myopia.
The latest Myopia prevention! Effort done with children in Singapore.
When we compared 6~7 year-old children living in Singapore and in Sydney, there was a 3% myopia rate in Sydney, while there was a 29.1 % myopia rate in Singapore, which is almost 10 times of that in Sydney.
Both of them were from China and the proportion of parents having myopia was almost the same. That means that they were no genetic or racial differences.
Only the outdoor activity time was different. While children in Sydney spend 14 hours per week (an average of 2 hours / day) outdoors, children in Singapore spend only 3 hours per week (an average of 25 min per day) outdoors.
Singapore's government which was alarmed by this report worked on events and campaigns asking parents to spend time playing outside in parks on week-ends. Some gifts given to them and they are trying to tackle reducing myopia.
Besides, in China there are some projects to build some schools with glass ceilings to take in sunshine while being inside. Times which were spent taking a nap till now was modified to spend it outdoors. A free of charge pamphlet talking about myopia was distributed as well. Nationwide programs to prevent myopia is taking place.