Almost half of the world’s population needs spectacles to correct a refractive defect. From the age of approximately 45, everyone develops presbyopia or “tired sight”. We should therefore ask ourselves if it is correct to refer to these conditions an “illness” or if it is simply a variant in the construction of the eye’s optical system.
The optical structure of our eye is far from a perfect system. Besides refractive defects such as myopia, hypermetropia and astigmatism there are other forms of optical impairment which prevent the ideal quality of vision that can be obtained.
Today, modern ophthalmologists offer many options for improving vision. But… how do most people feel about having an eye operation? When is the best time to be operated on and which operation is best?
In principle, only the ophthalmologist can choose the right operation for each patient (their decision is determined by the existing refraction, the patient’s age and the presence of other conditions).
Myopia as an example
Myopia mainly develops in children and progresses until approximately 18-20 years of age during growth. There are cases where myopia progresses later but this is less common. When a child displays blurry distance vision an ophthalmologist/optician normally prescribes spectacles, explaining the situation to the parents as an illness which thereby causes a negative reaction.
But is this the best way to communicate and treat myopia diagnosed in childhood?
Many ophthalmologists believe that myopia is not an illness, but an alteration of the optical system. Of course until adolescence myopia must be controlled and corrected using spectacles, but it is desirable to inform the parents from the start of the possibility of correcting the defect in the future .
Myopia treatment could be compared to the imperfect positioning of teeth. Everyone knows that it is very easy to correct and most people use dental devices to achieve it. It is a simple and widely accepted solution.
If myopia is considered in a similar way, first correcting it with spectacles, but presenting from the start the option of operating later with a laser treatment, the fears and insecurities of many parents could be minimised.
Refractive surgery would take on a completely different position if it was much more widely accepted. This perspective also has the added advantage of being able to offer a solution at the time when the myopia is diagnosed. The ophthalmologist could offer, along with insurance companies, a financing plan so that patients and parents can guarantee this final step – myopia surgery as the definitive solution.