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Can High Myopia Lead To Glaucoma? An Ophthalmologist Explains

Can High Myopia Lead To Glaucoma? An Ophthalmologist Explains undefined

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is one of the most common optical deficiencies in Singapore.

To myopia sufferers, objects that are nearby look clearer than objects that are far away, which appear blurred. Myopia is so common that many of us don’t think about it as a medical condition. However, as we age, there is a risk that myopia may lead to glaucoma (increasing pressure that can damage optic nerves and lead to vision loss).

Ophthalmologist Dr Desmond Quek answered a DoctorxDentist reader’s question about how and why myopia can lead to glaucoma. Here's what he had to say.

The reason myopia causes glaucoma is unknown

glasses on a table


For the most part, the reason why myopia can lead to glaucoma is largely still a mystery.

One belief is that high myopia can cause the eyeball to stretch, weakening nerves and increasing the risk of nerve damage from pressure in the eye.

Another cites reduced blood flow to optic nerves. [1]

per cent of Singaporeans over 40 are at risk of glaucoma

 

a man hiking with backpack and glasses and camera


Dr Desmond noted that a study was conducted in Singapore, revealing that glaucoma affects around 3 per cent of the population over the age of 40. In addition, the risk of glaucoma can increase with age. [2]

Chinese Singaporeans are at a higher risk of glaucoma

 

a man looking at a watch


On top of this, the study found that Chinese Singaporeans with myopia have an even higher risk of developing glaucoma, compared to those without myopia. [3]

It also depends on the severity of myopia

 

glasses on an eye chart


Those with mild myopia (less than 300 degrees) are 2 times more likely to get glaucoma. Those with moderate myopia (300 to 600 degrees) are 5 times more likely to develop glaucoma.

Finally, people with severe myopia (more than 600 degrees) are 15 times more likely to get glaucoma. [4]

Family history can also play a part in the risk of getting glaucoma

 

two young chinese parents with glasses and a baby


Chinese with a family history of glaucoma were found to have a higher risk of developing the condition.

They were nearly 8 times more likely to experience glaucoma (even if it developed later in life). [5]

Early glaucoma may not reveal any symptoms

 

a man having an eye check


Get screened for glaucoma as early as possible if you suspect you might be at risk, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma or have severe myopia (or both).


This is because early and intermediate stages of glaucoma may not include any symptoms. Blurring of vision is often a late symptom that is irreversible so don't wait for it.

If you have considered the factors mentioned above and think you may have a high risk of developing glaucoma, get yourself screened for a proper diagnosis and assessment.

Seeking an ophthalmologist’s professional opinion on your current condition could play a big part in helping you prevent the worsening of any severe myopia that could lead to glaucoma. [6]

 

 

Would you like to ask any related health questions? 

You can Ask A Doctor right away, or view the complete list of DoctorxDentist Sessions.

 

 

References:

1. Felicia Choo. Have myopia? Risk of glaucoma may be higher. Straits Times. 5 Oct 2019. Accessed April 2019.

2. For Singapore Health. ​​​Glaucoma in Singapore: Stats, Risk Factors and Prevention. HealthXchange.sg. Accessed April 2019.

3. The JAMA Network Journals. Study estimates prevalence of glaucoma among Singapore Chinese. ScienceDaily. 14 May 2015. Accessed April 2019.

4. Gary Heiting. Why Myopia Progression Is A Concern. AllAboutVision. Sept 2017. Accessed April 2019.

5. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Glaucoma. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Accessed April 2019.

6. Glaucoma Research Foundation. Five Common Glaucoma Tests. Glaucoma Research Foundation. 29 Oct 2017. Accessed April 2019.

 

196 views 2 Apr 2019 Medically reviewed by Dr Desmond Quek on 16 Apr 2019.
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