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Nearsightedness, known medically as myopia, is a common eye disorder. As the name suggests, those with nearsightedness are able to clearly see objects that are near but have trouble viewing objects that are far. The condition usually appears in childhood. Let’s take a closer look at myopia, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment .

What is Nearsightedness (Myopia)?

Nearsightedness or myopia is an eye disorder that affects distance vision. You may have difficulty seeing distant objects, but things that are near are easy to see (hence the name nearsightedness). 

Myopia is of different types: 

  • Low Myopia: Mild cases of nearsightedness are termed low myopia. Eyeglasses or contact lenses are usually able to correct vision issues in those with low myopia. 
  • High Myopia: The more severe form of myopia is called high myopia. High myopia may get progressively worse with age and then stabilize between the ages of 20 to 30. It is usually defined as myopia with a refractive error greater than -6. High myopia can also increase a person’s risk of developing other eye conditions, including cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Degenerative Myopia: This rare, progressive myopia type is also called pathological or malignant myopia and is usually inherited from parents. It is a severe form of myopia and can result in blindness. Those with this type of myopia have additional eye conditions and issues that affect the retina.

What are the Causes of Nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness or myopia is caused by structural differences in the eye that create problems in image focusing by the eye. 

Myopia is called a refractive error. This means that your eye is unable to refract (bend) light correctly due to the shape or condition of the cornea (the front surface of the eye) or the shape of the eyeball itself. In nearsightedness, your eye may be too long or oval-shaped or the curve of the cornea may be too steep. 

These structural differences mean that the eye is unable to focus light efficiently on the retina (light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). Thus, images in the distance may appear unclear and blurred. Experts believe that myopia is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 

Children who have a parent with myopia are more likely to develop the condition. The risk increases further if both parents have myopia.

Among environmental factors, children who spend a lot of time doing up-close work such as reading or working with a computer screen may have a higher chance of developing nearsightedness. Further, children who spend very little time outdoors may also be at a higher risk for the condition. Nearsightedness can also occur as a result of other health issues, such as diabetes and cataract.

What are the Symptoms of Nearsightedness?

Some common symptoms of nearsightedness include:

  • Difficulty seeing faraway objects clearly
  • Only items close by appear clear
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Squinting
  • Tiredness when consistently trying to look at objects far away

Since myopia usually develops in children and they may not be able to explain the blurry vision, therefore, as a parent, you can watch out for these additional symptoms in children:

  • Bringing and holding objects close to the face
  • Shortened attention span
  • Poor school grades

How is Nearsightedness Diagnosed?

An optometrist can usually diagnose nearsightedness with a basic eye exam. 

The eye tests involved in the diagnosis of nearsightedness are:

  • Visual Acuity Test: This test checks for the sharpness of your vision at a distance and uses a chart with different-sized letters or symbols. The smaller the letters or symbols, the harder they will be for someone with myopia to recognize. The eye care specialist asks you to read the chart with each of your eyes covered in turn. 
  • Phoroptor Test: In this test, a device called a phoropter is placed on your eyes. The eye care specialist places different lenses in front of your eye and asks you to read an eye chart. The specialist shines light into the phoropter to measure how your eye focuses it using a handheld instrument called a retinoscope. This helps determine an appropriate prescription for glasses to correct your vision problems. 
  • Inner Eye Examination: The eye care specialist may also use a special lens with a light to examine the condition of your retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye) and optic nerve. The specialist puts eye drops to dilate your eyes and get a better view of the inner eye. 

What are the Treatment Measures for Nearsightedness?

There are three different ways through which nearsightedness can be treated. 

  • Eyeglasses: These are the most common and popular treatment for most children and adults with myopia. The right prescription helps the eye focus light on the retina and clears up your distance vision. Depending on the degree of vision correction needed, you may need to wear the glasses constantly or only when distance vision is needed. 
  • Contact Lenses: Contact lenses are small clear discs with prescription strength placed directly on the cornea. Some people may prefer contact lenses to glasses. However, they should be handled with more care when compared to glasses. Your doctor will guide you in choosing the right lenses for yourself.
  • Refractive Surgery: For adults and, for certain exceptional cases in children, the option of refractive surgery is also available. The eye surgeon reshapes the cornea, which results in a decreased need for prescription lenses. The types of surgery available are: 
    •  LASIK: It stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis and is the most common surgery to correct nearsightedness. In this procedure, a laser is used to cut a thin, hinged flap through the top of the cornea and remove corneal tissue to flatten its domed shape.
    • LASEK: It stands for laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy. In this procedure, a laser is used to cut a flap through only the top protective layer (epithelium) of the cornea and the cornea is reshaped and flattened.
    • PRK: It stands for photorefractive keratectomy and is similar to LASEK. However, in this procedure, the surgeon completely removes the epithelium and uses the laser to reshape the cornea. A temporary contact lens is used to cover and protect the cornea until the epithelium grows back naturally.
    • SMILE: It stands for small incision lenticule extraction. In this procedure, there is no flap or removal of the epithelium. A laser is used to cut a small disc-shaped piece of the cornea (called a lenticule), which is removed through a small corneal incision. 
  • Orthokeratology: A nonsurgical process called orthokeratology or corneal refractive therapy may be used to treat mild forms of myopia. It involves wearing a series of rigid contact lenses while sleeping to reshape the cornea.

What are the Complications of Nearsightedness?

Complications of nearsightedness include:

  • Increased risk of retinal detachment
  • Higher risk of developing glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye diseases
  • Poor school experiences for children
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Impaired safety

What are the Preventive Measures for Nearsightedness?

There is no permanent cure for nearsightedness. However, you can take these steps to prevent or slow its progression: 

  • Restrict time on digital devices.
  • Ensure bright lighting while reading or working.
  • Wear sunglasses when outside.
  • Schedule regular eye checkups.
  • Spend enough time outdoors.
  • Speak to your doctor about low-dose atropine eye drops that may slow the progression of myopia in children and teenagers.
  • Consult a doctor about peripheral defocus contact lenses that may slow nearsightedness. 

Why Choose Medfin?

Surgery can be a daunting aspect, and feeling anxious is absolutely normal. The massive amount of information you can get from the internet may confuse you even more. This is where Medfin can help. Leave us the hefty task of finding the best hospital, the finest doctor, and the latest procedure at the lowest cost. Let us take charge while you sit back and focus on your health and recovery. Think surgery! Think Medfin

Frequently Asked Questions

Medfin offers the latest surgical procedures to ensure that you recover as fast as possible in the least painful way possible.

No, nearsightedness and a lazy eye are not the same. Nearsightedness or myopia is a refractive error of the eye where distant objects appear blurry and nearby objects appear clear. This occurs when the shape of the eyeball or cornea causes light to focus in front of the retina rather than on itself.

On the other hand, a lazy eye or amblyopia is a condition affecting the vision in one eye. It results from abnormal vision development during childhood. Eventually, the eye's ability to work together decreases, and your brain ignores signals from the weaker eye. 

Myopia or nearsightedness often develops between the ages of 6 and 12. If your child shows any signs of vision problems, it is important to get them examined for myopia. 

No, there is no permanent cure for myopia. While carrots contain eye-healthy nutrients such as vitamin A and beta-carotene, eating them will not reverse or improve the effects of myopia.

Yes, people can have nearsightedness in one eye and farsightedness in the other. This condition can medically be termed anisometropia (the two eyes have a difference in refractive power) and antimetropia (myopia in one eye and hyperopia in the other).

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