Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a vision problem that makes it difficult to focus on far away objects. Nearly 30 percent of the population in the United States suffers from nearsightedness. A simple eye exam can diagnose problems with distance vision. Nearsightedness can be treated with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive eye surgery.

What is nearsightedness?

Along with farsightedness and astigmatism, nearsightedness is a common type of refractive error. Refractive error refers to the inability of the lens of the eye to focus properly on an image.

The source of the problem is an imperfection in the shape of the eye. Nearsighted people have an eyeball that is too long and is egg shaped rather than perfectly round. When light enters the eye, it focuses in front of the retina rather than directly on it. This produces blurred vision when viewing objects that are far away.

Symptoms of nearsightedness

People with nearsightedness have difficulty viewing objects that are more than a few arm lengths away. For example, nearsighted individuals commonly have to squint to see a movie or television screen. Children who are nearsighted may have difficulty reading a blackboard. Some of the symptoms associated with nearsightedness include eyestrain and headaches from trying to focus on blurry objects.

Nearsightedness is usually diagnosed in early childhood. If you see your child sitting too close to the television, persistently squinting, or holding books very close in order to read, these are all signs of nearsightedness.

Causes of nearsightedness

Nearsightedness is caused by a genetic irregularity in the shape of the eye. Normally, the eye is shaped like a baseball, completely round. People who are nearsighted have an eye that is shaped more like an oval. This causes light to reflect in front of the retina, which distorts vision. Individuals with a family history of nearsightedness are far more likely to develop this condition as they age.

Treatment of nearsightedness

Nearsightedness does not interfere with the health of the eyes, but it can cause headaches and eyestrain if it is not properly treated. The goal of treatment is to shift the focus point to the retina. This can be achieved with prescription eyewear or with laser eye surgery procedures like LASIK.

Eyeglasses are the most popular method of correcting nearsightedness; however, more and more people are turning to LASIK and other vision correction surgeries to reduce their dependence on prescription glasses and contact lenses.

If you have difficulty seeing objects that are not up close or if you notice that your child is squinting to see the television, schedule a comprehensive eye examination today.


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