Nearsightedness, or “myopia,” affects nearly 40% of the US population. It is one of the most common eye conditions in the world. Like other refractive errors, myopia causes objects at a certain distance to become blurry. Controlling the effects of myopia is crucial in ensuring that your vision remains clear. If you are experiencing myopia, your vision problem can be treated by getting eyeglasses, contact lenses, or even laser eye surgery.
What is Myopia (Nearsightedness)?
Myopia is a common vision problem that allows you to see things close to you clearly, but objects far away will be blurry. Myopia occurs due to the shape of your eye incorrectly refracting light so it focuses before it reaches your retina instead of focusing at the retina.
Myopia can develop rapidly or quite slowly, and it is often hereditary. The best way to confirm if you are experiencing myopia is to receive a comprehensive eye examination.
Many children can develop myopia early on in their life, severely affecting their quality of life and ability to learn. Myopia can put your child at risk of developing eye diseases like retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, so it is important to consider getting your child examined for refractive errors.
- Blurry vision when looking at distant objects
- The need to squint or partially close the eyelids to see clearly
- Headaches caused by eyestrain
- Difficulty seeing while driving a vehicle, especially at night
If you think that your child has myopia, some signs that they will need treatment are:
- Persistently squint
- Need to sit closer to screens or the front of a classroom
- Seem to be unaware of distant objects
- Blink excessively
- Rub their eyes frequently
Myopia is a refractive error, meaning that light does not refract properly through your cornea or lens which causes the light to focus at a different point other than on the retina. If your cornea or lens isn’t evenly and smoothly curved, you will experience a refractive error. Nearsightedness usually occurs when your eyeball is longer than normal or your cornea is curved too steeply.
Complications due to myopia can range from subtle to severe. Some of the issues you may run into as a result of myopia are:
- Reduced quality of life – you may find it more difficult to perform everyday tasks when afflicted with myopia
- Eyestrain – myopia can cause discomfort due to squinting and overworking your eyes
- Impaired safety – things like driving and operating machinery become hazardous if your myopia is not being treated properly
- Financial burden – correcting myopia involves buying corrective lenses or undergoing expensive surgery
- Other eye problems – if you have myopia it puts you at an increased risk of retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataracts, and myopic degeneration
How Myopia is Diagnosed
Myopia is usually diagnosed through a refraction assessment during a comprehensive eye exam. A refraction assessment will determine if you have vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia. An optometrist will use various instruments and ask you to look through several lenses to test your distance and close-up vision during a refraction assessment.
Myopia treatment is the act of treating nearsightedness through corrective measures like glasses, contact lenses, and refractive surgery.
You can treat myopia through the use of corrective lenses. Corrective lenses counteract the increased curvature of your cornea or the increased length of your eye. Prescription lenses include:
- Eyeglasses – Wearing eyeglasses is the simplest way to treat myopia, and many different frames and specialty lenses are available to suit your specific needs.
- Contact lenses – Similar to glasses, contact lenses can treat refractive issues. Instead of wearing them on your face, they rest directly on your eye.
Refractive surgery will reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses. Your eye surgeon will use a laser to reshape the cornea, which results in a decreased nearsighted prescription. Surgeries that can treat myopia include:
- Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) – This procedure involves your eye surgeon creating a thin, hinged flap in your cornea. This is done through the use of a laser to remove inner layers of your cornea to flatten its domed shape. Recovery from LASIK surgery is usually more rapid and less discomforting than other surgeries.
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) – PRK is similar to LASEK, except the surgeon completely removes the epithelium, then uses the laser to reshape the cornea. The epithelium is not replaced and will grow back naturally, conforming to your cornea’s new shape.
Contact your optometrist today today to learn more about nearsightedness and how you can control myopia progression.