Myopia (or nearsightedness) affects a significant percentage of the
population, but this eye disorder is easily corrected with eyeglasses, contact
lenses, or surgery.
People who have myopia or nearsightedness have difficulty seeing distant
objects, but can see objects that are near clearly. For example, a person who is
nearsighted may not be able to make out highway signs until they are just a few
What causes myopia?
People who are nearsighted have what is called a refractive error. In people
with myopia, the eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, so
the light entering the eye is not focused correctly. Images focus in front of
the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye, rather than directly on the
retina, causing blurred vision.
Myopia runs in families and usually appears in childhood. Usually the
condition plateaus, but it can worsen with age.
What are the symptoms of myopia?
People who are nearsighted often complain of headaches, eyestrain,
squinting, or fatigue when driving, playing sports, or looking more than a few
feet away. Children commonly complain of not being able to see the board at
How is myopia diagnosed?
Myopia can be easily diagnosed using standard eye exams given by an eye
How is myopia treated?
Glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery can correct myopia.
With myopia, your prescription for glasses or contact lens is a negative
number, such as -3.00. The higher the number, the stronger your lenses will be.
The prescription helps the eye focus light on the retina, clearing up the
Refractive surgery can reduce or even eliminate your dependence on glasses or
contact lenses. The most common procedures for myopia are performed with a
- Photorefractive keratectomy. Also called PRK, a laser is
used to remove a layer of corneal tissue, which flattens the cornea and
allows light rays to focus closer to or even on the retina.
- Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. Commonly called
LASIK, a laser is used to cut a flap through the top of the cornea, a laser
removes some corneal tissue, then the flap is dropped back into place. LASIK
is the most common surgery used to correct nearsightedness.
- Corneal rings. Plastic corneal rings, called Intacs, are
implanted into the eye to alter the shape of the cornea. One advantage of
the rings is that they may be left in place permanently, may be removed in
case of a problem, or adjusted should a prescription change be necessary.
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