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Dealing With Degenerative Myopia

Myopia is also known as ‘being short sighted’ (rabun jauh). This means your vision would be blurry if the targeted object is far away but it gets clearer when the object is up close.

It is a very common condition and it can easily be corrected using contact lenses or glasses, which will make your vision clear and crisp.

Royal National Institute for Blind People explains, degenerative Myopia is different from regular myopia in that its’ nearsightedness is extremely high. It represents a subgroup of myopia and affects up to 3% of the world population.

Regular myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long, this causes light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface.

However, in degenerative myopia, there is a major change in the shape or the globe of the eye, which may lead to significant vision loss.

Vision loss related to pathologic myopia is of great clinical significance as it can be progressive, irreversible and affects individuals during their most productive years.

CAUSE OF DEGENERATIVE MYOPIA

In degenerative myopia the eyeball continues to grow, becoming longer than it should be. This can occur at any age, but mostly between the ages of 30 and 40.

In people under the age 50, degenerative myopia is often linked with the growth of leaky blood vessels (pertumbuhan salur darah tiris) that grow in the back of the eye. Experts may refer to the condition as choroidal neovascularization.

In malignant myopia (myopia berbahaya), the elongation of the eyeball can occur rapidly, leading to a quick and severe progression of myopia and loss of vision.

Degenerative myopia also may increase the risk of cataracts, says All About Vision website

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE DEGENERATIVE MYOPIA?

Commonly, people with the condition see a grey spot in the middle of their visual field or see straight lines as being distorted (gangguan pada garisan yang lurus). The development of choroidal neovascularization is associated with serious vision damage and in some cases, extreme vision loss.

According to Fighting Blindness website, other signs of degenerative myopia are:

  • Altered color perception
  • Reduced contrast sensitivity
  • Increasing loss of central vision (kehilangan penglihatan tengah yang semakin meningkat), making it difficult to read, watch television, drive or recognize faces
  • Eventually degenerative myopia can cause functional blindness, with only some peripheral sight remaining (penglihatan sisi sahaja tinggal).
Loss of central vision such as this one is common in degenerative myopia

According to MyHealth Portal, because elongation of the eyeball cannot be controlled, there is currently limited treatment options for degenerative myopia.

Laser radiation treatment can be used to destroy the abnormal growing of blood vessels to prevent progressive damage to the retina. However, it may also damage the healthy nearby retinal tissues.

Besides the treatment mentioned above, there is now a safer alternative treatment that can be used to preserve visual function.

Called photodynamic therapy, it is a method whereby drugs are injected to the retina at regular intervals. Verteporfin (Visudyne) and Lucentis injection are among the most frequently used in photodynamic therapy.

For patients who have low vision, using visual aids can help patients to perform daily routines with ease. Visual aids that are commonly used are, a magnifying glass for near tasks and telescopes for distance vision.

Non-optical modifications can also be done to help with sight problems. For example; enlarging the font size on a computer secreen and wearing a hat or sunglasses to reduce glare when doing outdoor activities.

Photodynamic therapy

EYE AND VISION CARE

Routine funduscopic examination by a qualified eye specialist is required to monitor the pathological changes in the retina hence reducing the risk of blindness.

Individuals with myopia should be aware of the early signs and symptoms related to retinal detachment, and also the urgencies of seeking medical treatment to preserve visual function.

Participating in activities such as, sports involving balls, jumping and running should be avoided to prevent complications to the retina due to stress and shock.

Patients also need consultation and confirmation from an ophthalmologist before engaging in activities that could risk their retinal health.

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