Myopia Basics

You’re seeing more young myopes in the office. There are a growing number of treatment options, and your staff is likely involved in some of them within your practice. They’re also probably being asked questions by parents and caregivers about myopia.

To address this, and to help simplify the information for families, here are some basic explanations and findings from two trusted resources about myopia: the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the International Myopia Institute.

Tip: Slowing myopia by 1.00D will lessen the chances that an individual will later experience myopic macular degeneration by 40%

6…Early onset myopia occurs when symptoms arise before age 6.


First, the classifications for categorizing severity of myopia as defined by the International Myopia Institute are:

• LOW MYOPIA: More than 0.50D, but less than 6.00D.

• HIGH MYOPIA: More than 6.00D.


• EARLY ONSET: Usually before age 6. These patients are more at risk of complications later in life.

• SCHOOL-AGE: Ages 6 to 18.

• ADULT ONSET: Between 19 and 40.


According to the American Optometric Association’s recently released Evidence-Based Optometry Myopia Management Clinical Report:

• CONDITIONS: High myopia can present a high risk for developing conditions “such as myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment, primary open angle glaucoma, and cataract.” The most dangerous? Myopia macular degeneration, which can be evidenced by “lacquer cracks, Fuchs spot, choroidal neovascularization, and choroidoretinal atrophy.”

• TREATED VS. UNTREATED: “A 1.00D increase in myopia is associated with a 67% increase in the prevalence of myopic macular degeneration.” Put another way, by slowing myopia in a patient by 1.00D, you are reducing the chances that individual will later experience myopic macular degeneration by 40%.


• WHY: According to the AOA, “The decreased risk of complications later in life provided by even modest reduction in progression suggest treatment is advised for all young children with myopia.”

• WHEN: Myopia usually progresses fastest before the patient becomes a teenager and slows thereafter. Treatment is, therefore, “more likely to be effective at younger ages, when rapid progression is underway,” reports the AOA.

Are you seeing and treating more young myopic patients at an early age in your practice? If so, tell us about it and share in the conversation on Facebook here.

Erinn Morgan