What is myopia?
Myopia is the medical term for nearsightedness. In this vision condition, near objects are generally seen clearly, but distant objects are blurred and do not come into proper focus.
Why does myopia occur?
If your eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, light entering the eye is not focused properly. Hereditary factors often control the growth and development of the eye. However, some evidence suggests that the stress of too much close vision work may cause myopia.
How common is myopia?
Myopia affects nearly 30 percent of the American population. Since the eye continues to grow during childhood, myopia generally develops before the individual reaches age 20.
How is myopia diagnosed?
Nearsighted children are usually easy to identify because they often squint or have trouble seeing the chalkboard, the movie screen, the television set or other distant objects. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing for myopia.
How is myopia treated?
An optometrist can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct myopia so you can see more clearly. Glasses and contact lenses alter the way images are focused in your eyes, but they do not cure myopia. You may only need them for certain activities, like watching television, going to a movie or driving a car.
Surgical procedures that alter the shape of the cornea (the eye's clear front surface) to reduce myopia are also available. These procedures include LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy).
In a procedure called orthokeratology, a series of rigid contact lenses alter the curvature of the cornea. For some people with myopia, this improves vision for significant periods of time.
Your doctor of optometry can help you decide if any of these procedures is right for you.
How will myopia affect my lifestyle?
Most individuals adapt well to wearing glasses or contact lenses. For those individuals who feel glasses affect their image or interfere with their activities, contact lenses, orthokeratology or refractive surgery may better meet their lifestyle and vision needs. Severely nearsighted individuals may find the condition limits their choice of occupations.