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Can Myopia Lead to Blindness?

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A child with large round glasses sitting on a couch and holding a smartphone very close to his face.

Myopia, like hyperopia and astigmatism, is a common refractive error affecting millions of people. However, this condition slightly differs from other refractive errors—it can progress and affect children’s vision and eye health. Myopia can continue to develop during childhood, worsening patients’ vision, and many people wonder if this condition can lead to blindness. 

While myopia can lead to blurry vision, it isn’t a cause of blindness, though it can affect your child’s future eye health. 

Risks Associated with High Myopia

Myopia itself doesn’t cause blindness, but it can increase the risk of developing eye conditions that can lead to severe vision loss. This refractive error can progress until it becomes high myopia, which increases the risk of several vision-threatening conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment. Someone has high myopia when they need -5 dioptres or more of vision correction. 

High myopia increases the risk of several eye conditions, including: 

  • Retinal tears: A retinal tear occurs when the clear gel inside the eye pulls on the retina, an essential part of the eye needed for vision. Retinal tears should be treated by an eye doctor as soon as possible, otherwise, it can lead to a detached retina. 
  • Retinal detachment: A retinal detachment is a medical emergency where your retina pulls away from the back of the eye. If left untreated, this condition can lead to significant vision loss—visit your eye doctor right away if you experience this emergency.  
  • Myopic macular degeneration: Myopic macular degeneration occurs when the retina slowly changes over time, becoming thinner. As the retina stretches and thins, it damages your central vision. 
  • Cataracts: A cataract is the clouding of your eye’s lens, occurring when proteins in the lens break down and clump together. The lens becomes cloudier with time until vision becomes difficult—many patients require cataract surgery to improve their vision. 
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, leading to significant vision loss. This disease can progress without visible symptoms until vision loss occurs. 

What Is Myopia Progression? 

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a refractive error that occurs when the eye is too long or the cornea has a steep curve, causing light to focus improperly. Incoming light lands in front of the retina instead of on the retina, leading to blurry vision. This refractive error makes it difficult to see clearly from far away distances. 

Myopia typically develops in childhood, and your child may not know they have this condition. Many children assume everyone has the same sight as them—they may not mention their vision struggles. Watch for signs of myopia in your child so you know when to book an eye exam

Symptoms of myopia include: 

  • Blurry vision from far distances
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Frequent squinting to see
  • Trouble seeing the board at school

Myopia progression occurs when nearsightedness worsens, often starting in childhood. The eye continues to grow, leading to worsened vision. Myopia can progress for years until it stabilizes (typically in early adulthood), meaning that your child’s vision can worsen, leading to a reliance on strong prescriptions to see clearly. 

Myopia progression can lead to high myopia, a severe form of nearsightedness. High myopia increases the risk of various eye conditions, including retinal detachment, cataracts, and glaucoma. 

Myopia progression can affect your child’s long-term eye health and vision, making regular eye exams essential for identifying and treating this condition as early as possible. 

What Causes Myopia?

A person with myopia has uniquely shaped eyes where the eye is too long, or the cornea has a steep curve. However, eye shape isn’t the only element that contributes to myopia. 

Other factors that can affect myopia development include: 

How Can You Treat Myopia Progression?

Correcting myopia is straightforward—your optometrist prescribes glasses or contacts to improve vision. Controlling myopia progression involves slowing eye growth, which traditional eyeglasses cannot do. 

Myopia control treatments focus on correcting vision and controlling myopic progression, which is possible in several ways. Your eye doctor will recommend a treatment plan that meets your child’s vision needs during a comprehensive eye exam. 

Your eye doctor may recommend a variety of possible treatments for myopia, including: 

  • Specialized eyeglasses
  • Multifocal contact lenses
  • Low-dose atropine eye drops

When diagnosed and treated promptly, your eye doctor can help protect your child’s eye health and vision. 

An eye doctor smiling and using a retinoscope to look at a child's right eye.

Book Regular Eye Exams

Myopia can progress over time, but your eye doctor can help diagnose and treat this condition. Regular eye exams are essential for your child’s eye health and vision, helping your optometrist diagnose eye conditions as early as possible. If you’re interested in exploring myopia control options for your child, contact us at Queensway Optometric Centre.

Written by Lareina Yeung

Dr. Yeung graduated with her Honours Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees from the University of Waterloo in 2003. Upon graduation, she joined the team at Queensway Optometric Centre (QOC). In addition to her work at QOC, Dr. Yeung served on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) for 7 years, where she chaired and participated in various committees. Dr. Yeung spent her final year at the OAO as Vice President and is a recipient of the OAO President’s Award for her outstanding contribution to the profession.
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