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Polygence Scholar2024
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Sanjana Shresta

Class of 2026



  • "How does myopia affect people, and how can minors with myopia better take care of their health?" with mentor Brandon (Jan. 4, 2024)

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How does myopia affect people, and how can minors with myopia better take care of their health?

Started Mar. 21, 2023

Abstract or project description

Myopia is a refractive eye disorder in which near objects appear clear and distant objects look blurry and unclear. The eye has 2 parts that focus images: the cornea and the lens. The cornea is the clear dome-shaped front portion of the eye, and the lens is a clear structure with a curved surface. In order for a person to see, light must pass through the cornea and the lens. They refract the light so that the light is focused directly on the nerve tissues, or the retina, at the back of the eye. The retina translates light into signals that are then sent to the brain, which enables us to see images. Myopia is a refractive error, meaning that the problem occurs when the shape or condition of the cornea or the eye results in an incorrect focus of light entering the eye. Myopia often results from the shape of the eye being too long or oval-shaped. It could also occur from the curve of the cornea being too steep. As a result of these changes in the shape of the eye, light rays come to a point in front of the retina and cross. The messages that the retina sends to the brain are discerned as blurry. Myopia is a hereditary trait that can be passed down through generations. If one or both of a person’s parents has myopia, they have an increased chance of developing the condition. Myopia is neither a dominant nor a recessive trait, and in most cases, it occurs due to a mix of genetic and environmental factors, rather than just one gene. Environmental factors can also contribute to myopia. Some of these factors include more education, nearwork, and lack of outdoor exposure. Past studies have shown that people who go into higher education are 2 times at risk of nearsightedness as people who do not. Nearwork refers to any work that requires focusing on an object close-up, and as more people nowadays use computers and spend more time on devices, the rate of myopia has increased. Additionally, when people spend long periods of time indoors, their eyes don’t have to focus on faraway objects, which may increase the risk of myopia.

The diagnosis of myopia comes with various challenges. It is evident that there are significant financial challenges that come with myopia. Certain treatments such as contact lenses, glasses, and surgery can be very costly and a detrimental financial burden. Additionally, unlike many other conditions or diseases that may result in a one-time or short-term cost, the chronic nature of myopia translates to a life-long burden. One study for adult myopia estimated a lifetime cost of about $17,020 for those with 80 years of duration of myopia.  

Another challenge that comes with myopia involves non-surgical vision treatments. Non-surgical treatments for myopia are very high-maintenance as well as costly and require a lot of responsibility. If not used the right way, these treatments can do more harm than help, which is why many children prefer glasses over contact lenses, as they are not ready for the responsibility involved in using contacts. The social stigma surrounding myopia is another challenge, as children with myopia can experience difficulty with social interactions and may have poor self-esteem. For example, there is a stigma surrounding glasses in today's society. According to a study published by Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, children who wear glasses are 36% more likely to be victims of bullying.

One more challenge that comes along with myopia is the health-related risks that myopes experience. Common symptoms of myopia include eyestrain and headaches, which are minor and often not a cause for concern. However, a person must seek immediate medical care if they experience the following symptoms: the sudden appearance of many floaters(tiny specks or lines that seem to drift through your field of vision), flashes of light in one or both eyes, a curtain-like gray shadow covering all or part of their field of vision, or a shadow in their outer or side vision (peripheral vision). These symptoms indicate that the retina is beginning to detach from the back of the eye. This condition is a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment. Significant myopia is associated with an increased risk of retinal detachment. Addressing myopia as soon as possible is important to reduce the risk of retinal detachment.