INDIA  :   Health

Myopia and treatment in India

Saturday , 20 February 2016

Myopia or nearsightedness is one of the most common eye conditions across the globe, say ophthalmologists. This week, we explore treatment options available for myopia in India

An article published in Nature – an international weekly journal of science, states that by the end of this decade, one-third of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people could be affected by myopia.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) defines myopia as, “A vision condition in which close objects are seen clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred.” Doctors say that this happens if the eyeball is too long, or the clear front cover of the eye or the cornea has too much curvature. “In myopia, the light rays entering the eyes, are bent too much. They converge in front of the retina, and send an over focused, fuzzy image to the brain,” explained Dr T P Lahane, Dean and ophthalmologist at Sir JJ Group of Hospitals – Mumbai. He said that this eye condition majorly affects a person, in childhood and adolescence.

Common types of myopia are:

  • Physiologic: Generally develops in children between the ages of 5 and 10.
  • Pathologic: It is a rare but advanced type of myopia which begins as physiologic myopia. It does not stabilise with age. It can lead to degenerative changes in the eye.
  • Acquired: It often occurs after infancy, and is generally associated with uncontrolled diabetes, certain types of cataracts or some medications like antihypertensive drugs.

Symptoms and causes

A person with myopia experiences blurry vision while looking at a distant object; they can suffer from headaches and may feel the need to squint or partially close the eyelids, to see clearly. In children, symptoms of myopia may include:

  • Difficulty seeing distant objects
  • Blinking excessively
  • Persistent squinting
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • The need to sit closer to the television or the front of the classroom

While the exact cause of myopia is yet to be found, researchers say that it may be related to genetics or environmental conditions. “It is said that myopia tends to run in families (genetic). People who have a habit of reading excessively or those who spend a lot of time in front of the television or computer (called visual stress), are also at a higher risk of developing myopia,” said Dr Lahane.

To diagnose myopia, a person needs to undergo a comprehensive eye check-up. “A visual acuity test is the first test required, to diagnose myopia. In this test, we ask the patient to read and identify visuals shown at a distance. Instruments like the phoropter and retinoscope are used, to measure the focus of light on the retina. These days, we have advanced instruments that automatically evaluate the focusing power of the eye,” said Dr Harshavardhan Ghorpade, Ophthalmologist at Fortis Healthcare Hospital-Mumbai.

Treating myopia in India

Eye care treatment costs in India, are one-third of that in western countries. With the most advanced form of technology, and ophthalmologists with global exposure, India has been a popular destination for eye care treatment, among foreigners. Treatment options for myopia in India are as follows:

  • Eyeglasses: The conventional method of correcting myopia.
  • Contact lenses: They offer better vision and a wider field of view than eye glasses. However, while using contact lenses, utmost care and hygiene need to be followed.
  • Orthokeratology: It is a corneal refractive therapy (non-surgical) in which a series of rigid contact lenses are worn, to reshape the cornea and the front outer surface of the eye.
  • Laser and other refractive surgery procedures: This is the latest method to correct myopia, in which a laser beam of light is used to reshape the cornea. The two common procedures in which a laser beam is used are: photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK).
  • Vision therapy for persons with stress-related nearsightedness. This involves various eye exercises. It is generally advised for people with myopia, to be able to focus clearly.

Correcting myopia with laser treatment is also considered to be, a part of eye cosmetology. Laser as an option, for eye cosmetology is the latest method, where powerful laser light is used to correct the problem. “It helps in a speedy recovery and offers precision. Lasik surgery is becoming popular with people who want to avoid wearing glasses. The procedure, corrects the vision problem, after which you can do away with your glasses. Bladeless, Lasik surgery like IntraLase is now being practised in most centres. The method enables the surgeon to create your corneal flap, without a blade ever touching your eye,” said Dr S K Sundaramoorthy, Eye Surgeon at Lotus Eye Hospital & Institute-Coimbatore.