Pathological Myopia

Does Your Child Have Pathological Myopia?

An IALVS eye doctor can improve your child’s vision for school, sports, socializing, and all of life!

Pathological myopia is not the same thing as refractive myopia or nearsightedness; with which you are probably familiar. This condition refers to an extremely high degree of nearsightedness that changes the spherical shape of the eye. Usually, the macula is damaged, resulting in central vision loss. Typically diagnosed in childhood, pathological myopia can add significantly to the challenges of learning and growing up. And because it is a progressive condition, the difficulties can worsen with time – which is why it is critical to seek assistance from a low vision eye doctor regularly and as soon as possible.

Our IALVS eye doctors are trained and experienced in evaluating pathological myopia. We will fit your child with the most suitable low vision aids, such as specialized glasses and computerized devices to maximize their remaining eyesight. We can help remove or ease your child’s struggles caused by reading, writing, using a computer, socializing with friends, and performing on the sports field.

Some of the low vision aids and rehabilitation that we may recommend include:

  • Low vision magnifiers and CCTVs can enlarge text and images, giving a more detailed and crisp view
  • Telescopic glasses can be mounted atop regular eyeglasses, providing a clearer view of distant objects and scenes
  • Our IALVS doctors can teach your child a number of low vision strategies to help sharpen vision

New low vision technologies can help your child with pathological myopia to do all the daily activities that he or she desires! Book a consultation with a friendly and knowledgeable IALVS doctor near you to learn more about all the advanced optic systems and personalized low vision aids available.

How common is pathological myopia, and who gets it?

In the United States, pathological myopia occurs in approximately 2% of the population, and is diagnosed most frequently in people of Middle Eastern, Jewish, Japanese, or Chinese descent. It is the seventh leading cause of legal blindness in the country.

This condition has been linked to other ocular and systemic diseases, including Down’s Syndrome, Ocular Albinism, Marfan’s Syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Infantile Glaucoma, Retinopathy of Prematurity, maternal alcoholism, and low birth weight. Patients with these conditions are regarded as “at risk” for pathological myopia, and regular eye exams are strongly advised.

About thirty percent of all patients are diagnosed at birth, and about sixty percent of cases occur between the ages of 6 and 13. As people age, pathological myopia continues to progress. It is critical to perform early eye exams of children at risk, because a failure to detect high myopia in young children can lead to amblyopia and further vision complications.

What are the complications of pathological myopia?

  • Myopic macular degeneration: as the eyeball stretches, the layers of tissue beneath the retina can develop cracks and atrophy. As a result, these cracks allow unhealthy blood vessels to grow, where they may hemorrhage and scar the retina in a way that is similar to what happens in wet macular degeneration; central vision loss may occur.
  • Retinal detachment: if the retina thins, there is a high risk of retinal tears, holes, and detachments. The risk of retinal detachment increases substantially as myopia increases. That’s why dilated retinal eye exams are recommended yearly for all patients with high myopia.
  • Glaucoma: as the eyeball changes shape, the drainage angle may also change. This can lead to an increase in the eye’s fluid pressure, which is an indicator of glaucoma.
  • Staphylomas: the eye may elongate, which can lead to a thinning of the retina and sclera. Consequently, the posterior part of the eyeball may bulge, which is called a staphyloma. By 60 years old, about half of all patients with staphylomas will be categorized as legally blind.

What are the treatments for pathological myopia?

In general, pathological myopia may cause people to have vision prescriptions that range from -6 diopters to -40 diopters. With such extreme refractive error, it can be complicated to correct vision with prescription eyeglasses. Very high index lenses are necessary in order to make the glasses lighter, more attractive, and thin enough to wear comfortably.

Contact lenses are another option, and many people prefer them over eyeglasses. They are thin and light, and they give clear peripheral vision too.

LASIK or laser refractive surgery is not typically effective for patients with pathological myopia, because it works better for mild to moderate nearsightedness. However, an intraocular lens implant termed a “Bear Claw” may be suitable. With the help of a small incision, this implant is placed in the anterior chamber of the eye, where it can correct myopia. also be suitable for some patients, although it is typically less effective for people with high myopia. An alternate surgery that may help is a clear lens extraction, in which the patient’s lens is removed – but an intraocular lens is not inserted. This can correct about 15 diopters of myopia.

Can IALVS doctors help with pathological myopia?

Patients with pathological myopia suffer from low vision. Fortunately, there are many optic and computerized aids to maximize eyesight for adults and children with low vision. Our IALVS eye doctors regularly attend special seminars and training sessions to keep up-to-date with all the latest low vision devices and rehabilitation.

We will meet with your child, assess their remaining vision, get to know the activities they love to do and need help with – and then fit them with the best individualized solutions for optimizing their eyesight. Because pathological myopia is generally progressive, we will meet with your child regularly to make sure their low vision aids are still effective and to recommend changes, as needed.