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Nearsightedness

(Myopia)

Definition

People with nearsightedness, or myopia, usually have difficulty seeing far objects. In severe cases, they can have trouble seeing objects both far and near.

Myopia

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Causes    TOP

Nearsightedness is a type of refractive error, which means the shape of the eye does not bend light correctly, so images are blurred. This usually occurs with an eyeball that is longer or a cornea that is steeper than normal. It may also indicate variations in blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or developing cataract. It may also be temporary after long periods of close-up work when the eyes have trouble refocusing.

Risk Factors    TOP

Nearsightedness is more likely to occur in people who have family members with the same condition.

Although the evidence is conflicting, some specialists believe that chronic near work, such as prolonged periods of reading or the daily use of a computer may also increase your chance of developing nearsightedness.

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms may include:

  • Blurred vision of distant objects
  • Squinting
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain

Diagnosis    TOP

A vision specialist will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will be given an eye exam and checked to see if lenses will help improve your vision.

Treatment    TOP

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include:

Corrective Lenses

Nearsightedness can be treated using corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses. You will have appointments at regular intervals to assess your vision and determine if your corrective lenses prescription needs to change.

Refractive Surgery

If you elect to undergo the procedure, certain forms of nearsightedness may be treated with refractive surgery. The surgeries used to treat nearsightedness focus on changing the corneas shape to increase the eye's ability to focus. Many of these procedures are done using lasers, such as LASIK or photorefractive keratectomy.

Corneal Refractive Therapy    TOP

Corneal refractive therapy, also called orthokeratology, uses a series of hard contact lenses to flatten the cornea over time. When the contact lenses are worn, they eliminate the nearsightedness. However, it is not a permanent solution. If you stop using the contact lenses, the nearsightedness returns as the cornea returns to its original shape.

Intraocular Lens    TOP

In some situations, removing your native lens and possibly replacing it with an intraocular lens can help treat nearsightedness.

Prevention    TOP

There are no current guidelines to prevent nearsightedness.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Ophthalmology
http://www.aao.org
National Eye Institute
http://www.nei.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Optometrists
http://www.opto.ca
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
http://www.eyesite.ca

References:

Durrie DS, Vande Garde TL. LASIK enhancements. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2000; 40:103.
Gimbel HV, Penno EE, et al. Incidence and management of intraoperative and early postoperative complications in 1000 consecutive laser in situ keratomileusis cases. Ophthalmology. 1998;105:1839.
Myopia (nearsightedness). American Optometric Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed February 18, 2016.
Nearsightedness: Myopia treatment. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed February 18, 2016.
Shortt AJ, Bunce C, Allan BD. Evidence for superior efficacy and safety of LASIK over photorefractive keratectomy for correction of myopia (Review). Ophthalmology. 2006 Nov;113(11):1897-908.
Yoo SH, Azar DT. Laser in situ keratomileusis for the treatment of myopia. Int Ophthalmol Clin.1999;39:37.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 7/17/2014

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