Myopia FAQs

What is nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness, or myopia, as it is medically termed, is a vision condition in which near objects are generally seen clearly, but distant objects are blurred and do not come into proper focus.

Why does nearsightedness occur?

When your eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, light entering the eye is not focused properly. Hereditary factors often control the growth and development of the eye.

However, some evidence supports the theory that nearsightedness may also be caused by the stress of too much close vision work.

How common is nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness is a very common vision condition that affects nearly 30 percent of the American population. It normally first occurs in school age children. Since the eye continues to grow during childhood, nearsightedness generally develops before the individual reaches age 20.

How is nearsightedness diagnosed?

Nearsighted children are usually easy to identify because they often squint or have trouble seeing the chalkboard , the movie screen, the television set or other distant objects. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing for nearsightedness.

How is nearsightedness treated?

Eyeglasses or contact lenses can be prescribed to optically correct nearsightedness and enable you to see more clearly. They alter the way the light images are focused in your eyes, but they do not cure nearsightedness. You may only need them for certain activities, like watching television, going to a movie or driving a car.

In recent years, a number of options to surgically alter the shape of the cornea, the eye's clear front surface, to reduce nearsightedness have been developed.

These include procedures called radial keratotomy (RK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). There is also a procedure called orthokeratology which uses a series of rigid contact lenses to alter the curvature of the cornea to provide improved vision for significant periods of time for some people with nearsightedness. Your doctor of optometry can help you decide if either of these procedures is right for you.

How will nearsightedness affect my lifestyle?

Most individuals adapt well to wearing glasses or contact lenses. For those individuals who feel glasses affect their image or interfere with their activities, contact lenses, orthokeratology or refractive surgery may provide options to better meet their lifestyle and vision needs. In some cases, more severely nearsighted individuals may find the condition limits their choice of occupations.