Understanding Nearsightedness

Nearly 30 percent of Americans have a vision condition known as nearsightedness, or myopia. Largely thought to be hereditary, nearsightedness causes distant objects to appear blurry, while close objects can be seen clearly.

Causes

Nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball is too long or the cornea (the transparent covering of the eye) is too steeply curved. Because of these irregularities, light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina instead of on the retina, causing distant objects to look blurred.

Nearsightedness tends to be inherited, so if one or both of your parents have it, you have a higher chance of getting it. Eye doctors also believe that the way you use your eyes affects how likely you are to be nearsighted. For example, if you spend long hours working on a computer, reading or performing other tasks that require close visual work, you may be overusing your focusing mechanism — and therefore have a higher chance of developing nearsightedness.

Symptoms

The primary symptom of nearsightedness is that distant objects appear blurry or distorted. Other symptoms include the following:

  • Constant need to squint to see clearly
  • Headaches, due to eyestrain
  • Difficulty seeing the road or signs while driving (particularly at night)

Children that are nearsighted may squint, blink or rub their eyes excessively, sit near the television screen or at the front of the classroom and seem unaware of distant objects.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If it is challenging to see distant objects clearly, and this affects your quality of life or ability to perform daily tasks, you are encouraged to seek the expertise of our eye doctors. During an eye exam, we can test your vision, diagnose you with nearsightedness and explain your treatment options.

Diagnosing nearsightedness involves measuring how your eyes focus light and examining other aspects of your vision. Different instruments, lights and lenses may be used to get a closer look at your eyes and measure their focusing power. The information gathered from these tests can help our eye doctors confirm that your visual problems are due to nearsightedness, and determine the power needed for corrective optical lenses.

Nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses, which counteract the irregular cornea curvature or eyeball shape. Depending on the severity of your nearsightedness, eyeglasses may only need to be worn during certain activities, such as driving or watching a movie.

For many people struggling with vision problems due to nearsightedness, laser eye surgery is the preferred treatment of choice. Procedures including LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) reshape the curvature of the cornea so that light entering the eye focuses properly on the retina. During these procedures, a laser is used to remove small bits of tissue from the cornea and give it a proper shape. Since laser eye surgery changes the anatomy of the eye, the results are permanent.

Learn More about LASIK for Nearsightedness

If you have been diagnosed with nearsightedness and would like to learn more about your treatment options, please contact our eye doctors today. We can explain the procedure in detail, covering the benefits and risks, and help you decide whether it is the best solution for your visual needs and goals.