Eye Doctor near me smiling holding contact lense case sitting in desk, Contact Lens Eye Exam: What To Expect

What is Degenerative Myopia?

Often referred to as pathological or progressive myopia, degenerative myopia is a specific form of nearsightedness. Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a prevalent vision issue where individuals can see objects close to them clearly, but those at a distance become blurred.  

Degenerative myopia is typically a consequence of high myopia, a severe degree of nearsightedness. However, degenerative myopia is not merely a degree of myopia but is a distinct form characterized by specific degenerative changes occurring at the back of the eye. These changes can be serious, potentially leading to blindness if not identified and managed appropriately. 

The diagnosis of degenerative myopia requires a comprehensive eye exam, with a particular emphasis on a detailed retinal exam. Eye exams are vital in identifying the tell-tale signs that differentiate this degenerative form from standard myopia. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of degenerative myopia with Clarkson Eyecare. 

How Does Degenerative Myopia Develop?

Degenerative myopia is rare, affecting about 3% of people worldwide. It usually starts in early childhood, just like common nearsightedness. The main cause is the eyes growing too long, which stretches and weakens the retina and other eye tissues at the back. This weakening leads to 'degenerative myopia' - a progressive condition where the eye's ability to see clearly worsens over time. 

Additionally, degenerative myopia often runs in families. If someone in your family has it, there's a higher chance you might develop it, too. This hereditary link is important to remember, especially for those with a family history of the condition. Regular eye checks from a young age are essential for early detection and effective management. 

What are the Symptoms of Degenerative Myopia?

Degenerative myopia can lead to several noticeable changes in vision due to the damage it causes to the back of the eye. It's important to be aware of these symptoms, as they can significantly impact daily activities: 

  1. Reduced Vision: Even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, your vision may still be blurry. This is a sign that the myopia is progressing toward degenerative myopia. 

  2. Distorted Lines: Straight lines may begin to appear wavy or bent, indicating changes in the retina. 

  3. Blind Spots: You may notice blind spots in your central vision, which can make it difficult to focus on objects directly in front of you. 

  4. Floaters and Flashes: Seeing floaters (small, shadowy shapes) or flashes of light in your vision can also indicate degenerative myopia. 

  5. Difficulty in Daily Tasks: Activities that require sharp vision, like reading, driving, or cooking, may become challenging due to the distortion in your sight. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's crucial to see an eye doctor for a thorough examination. Early detection and treatment can help manage the symptoms and protect your vision. 

Can Degenerative Myopia Cause Other Eye Conditions?

The short answer is, yes, degenerative myopia can lead to several serious eye conditions. This is due to the damage caused at the back of the eye. Some of the most common complications include: 

Myopic Maculopathy

Also known as myopic macular degeneration, myopic maculopathy is the most serious and vision-threatening complication of degenerative myopia. It can manifest as bleeding from abnormal blood vessels, splitting of retinal layers, retinal detachment, or macular holes. This condition is challenging to treat, often requiring surgery depending on the specifics of the case.  

Peripapillary Atrophy

Peripapillary atrophy involves the thinning and degeneration of tissue around the optic nerve, a complication associated with degenerative myopia. These thin areas around the optic nerve might appear white, yellow, or black. If the area enlarges over time, it could indicate glaucoma, a serious eye condition. 

Retinal Tears and Retinal Detachment

Retinal tears can occur due to trauma or surgery and may lead to retinal detachment, a serious condition that can cause permanent vision loss or blindness. Retinal detachment happens when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye. This requires immediate surgery to repair, so seek emergency care if you experience sudden flashes of light, numerous new floaters, a shadow in your peripheral vision, or a gray curtain obstructing your vision. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, occurs when there's an imbalance in the production and drainage of intraocular fluid, leading to increased eye pressure. This pressure damages the optic nerve and can't be reversed. Regular comprehensive eye exams are essential for early detection and management of glaucoma. 

How is Degenerative Myopia Diagnosed and Treated?

At Clarkson Eyecare, our optometrists can diagnose degenerative myopia with a comprehensive eye exam, which includes a detailed retinal exam. While there is no cure for degenerative myopia, we focus on managing its complications and preventing further damage to the retina. Here are some of the effective treatments available for degenerative myopia: 

Anti-VEGF Therapy

Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) is a protein that stimulates the formation of new blood vessels. In some cases, overproduction of VEGF leads to the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye, risking low vision or blindness. Anti-VEGF medications, such as Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea, work by blocking VEGF, slowing down the progression of new blood vessels in the eye. This can help to slow down vision loss or, in some cases, improve it. 

Vitreoretinal Eye Surgery

This category includes surgeries performed deep inside the eye, targeting the vitreous and retina. These procedures use lasers or conventional surgical instruments to address issues in these sensitive areas. Vitreoretinal surgical and laser techniques are effective in restoring, preserving, and enhancing vision, especially in cases of macular degeneration related to degenerative myopia. 

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy combines a light-sensitive medicine with a specific laser light. The medication, once activated by the laser light during the procedure, creates blood clots in abnormal blood vessels. This process seals off the vessels and prevents further vision loss. Though not as commonly used as other treatments, photodynamic therapy is a valuable option for patients experiencing gradual vision loss. 

Diagnose and Manage Degenerative Myopia with Clarkson Eyecare

At Clarkson Eyecare, our expert eye doctors are well-equipped to diagnose and treat a variety of eye conditions, including degenerative myopia. Early detection is key to preventing these conditions from worsening and impacting your quality of life. 

  

If you're experiencing symptoms such as reduced vision despite wearing glasses or contacts, seeing wavy lines, noticing blind spots in your vision, or encountering floaters and flashes, it's crucial to consider the possibility of degenerative myopia. These signs, especially if they progress or worsen, indicate the need for a comprehensive eye exam. 

  

Don't wait for these symptoms to escalate. Schedule an appointment with your local Clarkson Eyecare today and take the first step towards clear vision.  

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