Myopic Degeneration

What is Myopia?

Myopia is a term that is used to describe the shape of the eye resulting in an eye that is “near sighted”. This means you see well up close but things are blurry at a distance. Most people with glasses or contacts have myopia or are myopic.

What is Myopic Degeneration?

Myopic Degeneration is a condition caused by strong or high myopia. It can be associated with new blood vessels, cracks in the eye tissue, retinal thinning and retinal detachments.

What causes myopic degeneration?

People with myopia have longer eyes and the retina must cover a greater amount of space than a normal shape. The stretching of eye tissue results in changes in the color, orientation and thickness in much of the ocular tissue. These changes sometimes lead to complications.

What are some of the problems that can be associate with Myopic degeneration?

Retina Tear: A retinal tear or hole is a common problem observed on routine exam in patients with high myopia. Everyone’s eye has a very similar amount of retina tissue. As the eye develops and grows the retina spreads with the eye. Much like pulling plastic, as it stretches it thins. The thinner tissue is very susceptible to retina holes and tears. If left untreated, overtime these lead to the formation of a retinal detachment. (see Retinal Tears)

Retinal Detachment: A retinal detachment is more common in patients with myopic degeneration. This is due to a thinner retina tissue that is prone to tears and retinal holes. (see Retinal Detachment)

Choroidal Neovascular Membranes: Thinning in the outer layers of the eye can lead to fine cracks in the outer tissue. As a result outer blood vessels can manage to move towards the inner eye tissue and create disruption in the eye tissue. When observed on the exam we call these Choroidal neovascular membranes. In addition to causing visual distortion, these blood vessels can also break and bleed resulting in significant vision loss. When present they require treatment in the form of shots of medication into the eye to stop their progression and stimulate regression. Treatment for these membranes is very similar to the treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (see treatment section for AMD). If left untreated, profound irreversible vision loss may result.

Myopic Macular Schisis. Near the back of the eye, tissue stretching can lead to splitting of the inner retina. This can impact the vision causing distortion or blurriness. When symptomatic, surgery is the best option to slow down the progression of vision loss (see macular hole surgery).