Solutions in Myopia Treatment

Myopia is also known as short-sightedness or nearsightedness. It is a type of refractive error that currently affects over 30% of Australians. The prevalence of nearsightedness has been well-documented as being on a steep upward trajectory. With a predicted prevalence of almost 5 billion cases worldwide by the year 2050. 

How Does Nearsightedness Work?

The eyeball is a complex organ involving many light-transmitting anatomical structures that refract (or focus) light and sensory neuronal structures that detect this light. Then carry signals to various areas of the brain for interpretation and response. Nearsightedness is a defect in the coordination of the focus of the eyeball – a type of refractive error. So the focusing power of the eye is too strong for the length of the eyeball. This results in the focal point of light falling in front of the sensory retina which lines the back of the eye. In most cases, myopia arises from the axial length of the eye being too long.  Nearsightedness results in unclear vision of distant objects. While closer objects, such as books and smartphones are easier to see. Depending on the degree of nearsightedness and other factors. With the presence of astigmatism and the person’s age, sometimes even near objects can be blurry.

Potential Risk Factors

Many people often take their vision for granted. Uncorrected myopia can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily activities. It affects the vision used in driving, watching movies or TV, recognising faces from a distance, and even reading aisle signs at the supermarket.  The development and progression of myopia is still undergoing thorough research and investigation. As vision scientists try to understand how we can prevent or slow this condition. At present, we know of both genetic and environmental factors contributing to nearsightedness. Various risk factors have already been identified. A family history of myopia, Asian ethnicity, reduced time outdoors during childhood, and increased time spent on near work indoors during childhood could have an affect. In recent years, myopia has also been recognised as a health concern. Associating with many sight-threatening eye diseases. Some of which, such as myopic macular degeneration and glaucoma, are a result of the elongated nature of a myopic eyeball

Myopia Treatment

The risk of associated eye diseases cannot be ameliorated with optical correction. The eye still has an excessive axial length. Yet, we have access to many solutions to improve the quality of vision and quality of life in a patient with nearsightedness. Spectacles and contact lenses are available. Even in higher myopic prescriptions. Surgical options have recently also been gaining popularity. Medical technology advances continue to improve visual outcomes.  With the refining of refractive surgery techniques, myopic patients now have more options in treatment. Resulting in excellent distance vision without the need for optical correction. The most suitable treatment will depend on the degree of nearsightedness, the unique anatomy of the individual eye, and the presence of presbyopia (the normal age-related decline of the eye’s focusing ability)
  • LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis),
  • PRK (photorefractive keratectomy),
  • Refractive lens exchange,
  • Intraocular contact lens, and

SMILE® Laser Eye Surgery (small incision lenticule extraction)

Deserving of  a special mention as this technique has come to the fore in recent years. Due to its safety profile and ability to provide excellent visual outcomes.  With the use of a femtosecond laser, a sculpted disc of tissue, known as a lenticule, is created within the depths of the corneal layers. This lenticule is then surgically removed via a tiny keyhole incision. Resulting in a reshaping of the cornea and redirection of light through the remaining tissue. Such that images focus to a clear point on the retina. The final outcome is clear vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses.  Unlike LASIK, SMILE® laser eye surgery does not require the creation of a corneal flap. Eliminating flap-related complications. And unlike PRK, the SMILE® method does not need removal of the superficial corneal epithelium. Improving postoperative comfort and reducing recovery time. Due to the minimally invasive nature of this technique, SMILE® carries a very low risk of postoperative dry eye. Because of these benefits, SMILE® is a great option for:
  • Pre-existing dry eye.

As the incidence of dry eye increases with age, older patients may find SMILE® to be the most appealing refractive surgery solution.

  • Patients who cannot afford a long recovery time.
The cornea contains the highest density of nerves in the human body. Disruption of these nerves in the course of surgery can cause discomfort and prolong recovery. Since SMILE® is minimally invasive, there is less interruption to the biomechanical stability of the cornea. This makes healing times shorter. 
  • Engaging in frequent physical activity or are exposure to dirty, dusty environments.
One of the significant advantages of SMILE® is the lack of a corneal flap. Flap-related complications are uncommon. However, during rough physical activity the flap has the potential to become dislodged. Or for debris to become caught beneath the flap interface. Posing a risk for infection or inflammation.  At the present time, SMILE® surgery is best suited for patients with nearsightedness. It can be effective up to prescriptions of even -10 dioptres. SMILE® can also be offered to patients with astigmatism but is not yet available for hyperopia (long-sightedness) or presbyopia. Other techniques such as LASIK, PRK, or refractive lens exchange are more suitable for these patients Regardless of whether you are myopic, astigmatic, hyperopic, or presbyopic, Eye Laser Specialists may have a solution for you. Call us now to book your complimentary assessment. 

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About the expert

Dr Anton van Heerden, MBCHB; FRANZCO
Ophthalmologist & Laser Eye Surgeon

Based in Melbourne, but with a reputation that transcends borders, Dr Van Heerden sets the highest bar for laser vision correction surgery in Australia. While his skills and experience are second to none, it is his fun, caring and down to earth nature that truly set’s him apart from the rest. You can sit back and enjoy the journey knowing every detail has been carefully considered.