Nearsightedness (Myopia)


Nearsightedness is a common eye condition in which faraway objects appear blurry.Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, raise your risk of nearsightedness. A family history of nearsightedness also increases your chance of developing it.Nearsightedness can be treated using eyeglasses, contact lenses, corneal refractive therapy, or laser eye surgery.

Nearsightedness is an eye condition in which you can see nearby objects clearly, but faraway objects appear fuzzy or blurry. It’s also called myopia.

Nearsightedness is extremely common but treatable. According to the American Optometric Association, almost 30 percent of Americans are nearsighted.

Symptoms of Nearsightedness

The most obvious symptom of nearsightedness is blurry vision when you look at faraway objects. Children may have trouble seeing the blackboard at school. Adults may not be able to see street signs clearly while driving.

Other signs of nearsightedness include:

  • headaches
  • eyes that hurt or feel tired
  • squinting

The symptoms of nearsightedness usually go away after treatment with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Headaches and eye fatigue may linger for a week or two as you adjust to your new eyeglass or contact lens prescription.

Anatomy: How Does the Eye Work?

Nearsightedness is caused by a refractive error. A refractive error occurs when your eye doesn’t focus light correctly. If you’re nearsighted, your eye focuses light in front of your retina instead of onto it. This results in blurred vision.

The retina is the surface at the back of your eye that collects light. It changes the light into electrical impulses that your brain reads as images.

A myopic, or nearsighted, eye focuses incorrectly because its shape is slightly abnormal. A nearsighted eyeball is usually a little too long, and sometimes its cornea is too rounded. The cornea is the clear covering on the front of your eye.

Correction for Nearsightedness

Your eye doctor can diagnose nearsightedness by performing a complete eye exam.

Correction for nearsightedness may include:

  • corrective lenses
  • corneal refractive therapy
  • refractive surgery

Eyeglasses and contact lenses are examples of corrective lenses. These devices compensate for the curvature of your cornea or the elongation of your eye by shifting the focus of light as it enters your eye.

Your prescription strength will depend on how far you can see clearly. You may need to wear corrective lenses all the time or just for certain activities, such as driving.

Contact lenses generally give you a wider field of corrected vision than glasses. They’re applied directly to the corneas of your eyes. Some patients can’t tolerate contact lenses because they irritate the surface of their eyes.

Refractive surgery is a permanent form of correction for nearsightedness. Also called laser eye surgery, the procedure reshapes your cornea to focus light onto your retina. Most people who have refractive eye surgery no longer need to wear contact lenses or eyeglasses.

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