Near-sightedness is a common eye condition in which you can see close objects clearly but objects at a distance appear blurred.
What Happens To Untreated Near-Sightedness?
Near-sightedness is a refractive error. All refractive errors are measured in optical units by the name diopters (D). the lenses that are used to correct near-sightedness are symbolized by a negative power and have a minus sign preceding them, for example -0.25 D. they are usually measured in the increasing orders of 0.25 D.(1)
Near-sightedness may be categorized into three types, viz. –
- Mild near-sightedness or mild myopia- ranges from -0.25 to -3.00 D
- Moderate near-sightedness or moderate myopia- ranges from -3.25 to -5.00 D
- High near-sightedness or high myopia- more than -6.00(1)
Mild myopia usually will not lead to any serious eye health problems. However, moderate and high near-sightedness may sometimes be associated with a serious degree of eye problems, including vision loss. If there develops an eye problem as a result of nearsightedness, or there is a vision loss the near-sightedness or myopia is known as degenerative or pathological myopia(1)
The early the nearsightedness or myopia starts, the higher is the rate of its progression to a high degree of myopia. If myopia is untreated it may lead to several serious complications, including-
- The retina may begin to pull away from the supportive tissue of the eye
- This may lead to a permanent loss of vision
- There may be a 4 to 15 times increase in retinal detachments if myopia is left untreated(2)
- Cataracts are usually related to the process of aging in us
- However, those having myopia may get it sooner than others
- Those who do not treat myopia may get it even earlier than those who do.
- There may be a 2 to 5 times increase in cataracts if myopia is left untreated(2)
- Glaucoma is caused due to increased pressure in the eyes
- This condition may cause severe damage to the optic nerve and there may be a permanent loss of vision
- There may be a 2 to 3 times increase in the occurrence of glaucoma in those who do not treat their myopia(2)
Macular Degeneration Or Myopic Maculopathy-
- This is the commonest complication of high myopia
- It is a slowly progressive condition and threatens vision loss
- The vision loss results due to the atrophy of the retinal epithelium
- Secondary complications like subretinal neovascularization may also be responsible for the vision loss
- There may be 60 times increase in the occurrence of macular degeneration if myopia is left untreated
- Macular degeneration is the only condition which is among the top 5 reasons for blindness and is completely untreatable(2)
When To Go To A Doctor For Near-Sightedness?
If you feel difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly so much so that your ability to perform tasks is hampered, you should see a doctor. The doctor can check for the severity of your near-sightedness and recommend essential and proper measures to rectify it. If you experience a swift and abrupt appearance of tiny specs or floaters drifting through your visual fields, you must see a doctor emergently. If there is a light flash in one or both eyes or, if you feel there is a shadow over your field of vision, you should see a doctor. These may be some of the warning signs of retinal detachment and are to be taken seriously. Even if you do not experience any visual problems, it is advisable to get your eyes regularly checked.(3)
Untreated near-sightedness may cause serious complications and a permanent loss of vision. It is essential to visit your doctor if you feel any changes in your vision and it is recommended to get your eyes checked regularly.