Myopia

Other names: Nearsightedness

DEFINITION

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is a common vision condition where objects up close are seen clearly, but objects at a distance appear blurry. It can develop gradually or rapidly, often worsening during childhood and adolescence. Myopia tends to have a genetic component and may run in families. An eye exam can confirm nearsightedness, and it can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.

SYMPTOMS

In children, signs of nearsightedness may include squinting, sitting close to screens, seeming unaware of distant objects, excessive blinking, or frequent eye rubbing.

When to see a doctor

If you have trouble seeing things at a distance that affects your tasks or enjoyment of activities, consult an eye doctor. Seek immediate care if you experience sudden flashes of floaters or shadows in your vision, which could indicate retinal detachment—a rare complication of myopia.

Regular eye exams

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends regular eye exams based on age and risk factors for adults and children to detect vision issues early.

CAUSES

Myopia typically results from an elongated eyeball or overly curved cornea. Light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of on it. Genetics and environmental factors may contribute to the development of myopia.

RISK FACTORS

COMPLICATIONS

Untreated myopia can lead to reduced quality of life, eyestrain, safety hazards, and increased risks for retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataracts.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Before seeing an eye specialist for myopia evaluation or treatment:

QUESTIONS

  1. What is myopia?

Myopia is a vision condition where distant objects appear blurry while close objects are clear.

  1. How is myopia diagnosed?

An eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist confirms myopia through various tests.

  1. What are the symptoms of myopia in children?

Children with myopia may squint, sit close to screens, blink excessively, or rub their eyes frequently.

  1. What are the treatment options for myopia?

Corrective lenses like glasses or contacts are common treatments. Refractive surgery may be an option for some individuals.

  1. Can myopia be prevented?

Myopia cannot be prevented entirely but its progression may be slowed down with certain measures.

  1. What are the risk factors for developing myopia?

Family history of myopia, prolonged near work like reading, and lack of outdoor time are common risk factors.

  1. When should I seek immediate medical care for myopia?

Sudden onset of floaters or shadows in vision should prompt immediate medical attention as they could indicate retinal detachment.

  1. How often should adults have their eyes examined?

The frequency of eye exams depends on age and risk factors but regular screenings are essential for early detection of vision issues.

  1. What lifestyle changes can help manage myopia?

Protecting your eyes from the sun, eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients beneficial for eye health, and reducing eyestrain can help manage myopia.

  1. What complications are associated with untreated myopia?

Complications include reduced quality of life, eyestrain, safety hazards due to impaired vision, and increased risks for conditions like retinal detachment and glaucoma.