Myopia is the condition of being nearsighted, that is, being able to see close objects clearly but having trouble seeing far objects. Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long or the cornea too curved, making your eye unable to correctly focus light at certain distances. Nearly 1/3 of all U.S. residents are nearsighted.
In the study, researchers in the Netherlands analyzed a collection of studies previously published in Ophthalmology. They kept track of who had myopia and who had glaucoma out of the tens of thousands of people included in the studies, and they found that nearsighted people were around 90% more likely to develop acute angle glaucoma. They also found that those with higher myopia had a higher risk of glaucoma. Though ophthalmologists recommend regular eye exams after age 40, researchers recommended that nearsighted people, no matter what age, should have annual eye exams.
While this study draws alarming conclusions for nearsighted people, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force says it provides too little evidence to change the recommendation for eye exams.
One problem with the study is that it shows only that there may be a relationship between myopia and glaucoma, not that myopia causes glaucoma. The researchers make no claims to understand how a misshapen eyeball could cause damage to the optic nerve which results in blindness. The study also collected data from studies analyzing people of different ages and ethnicities, and it is hard to make generalizations about relationships between conditions over such a broad spectrum of people.
Though this study is not conclusive, it is worthwhile for myopic patients to be aware that they may have a higher risk of glaucoma. If you have myopia and wish to learn more about glaucoma risks and prevention, please contact an experienced ophthalmologist in your area today.