Myopia (short-sightedness)

What is myopia?

Myopia (short/near sightedness) is one of the most common refractive errors and has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Although the cause of it is not entirely clear, some eye doctors feel that it’s due to our increased use of computers, tablets and smart phone devices, as well as extended tasks that require near vision, and genetic predispositions for myopia.

Fortunately, contact lenses offer visual correction for those who are short-sighted.

What are the symptoms of myopia?

You’ll have difficulty reading road signs and seeing distant objects clearly, but will be able to see well for close-up tasks such as reading and computer use. In addition, you may find yourself squinting to see and experience headaches and eye fatigue after tasks that require concentration.

If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms after you have been given prescription lenses, visit your optician for further eye examination. It could be he sign of another underlying eye condition, although mostly, it’s a sign that you need a stronger prescription.

What causes myopia?

Myopia occurs when the eyeball grows too long. This prevents light from focusing on the retina (light-sensitive tissue) at the back of the eye. This causes light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface and results in distant objects appearing blurred.

Myopia can also be caused by the cornea and/or lens being too curved for the length of the eyeball. In some cases, myopia is due to a combination of these factors.

The condition will typically start in childhood and usually worsens overtime, though some people find it stabilises with age.

How is myopia treated?

Myopia is easily corrected with prescription contact lenses or glasses. Some people also opt for refractive surgery though this is a more invasive procedure.

Depending on your prescription, you may need to wear your lenses or glasses at all times, or at least when you need very clear distant vision, like when watching the television, reading a board or driving.

If you’re short-sighted, the first number (sphere) on your eyeglasses prescription or contact lens prescription will be preceded by a minus sign (–). The higher the number, the more short-sighted you are.

LASIK surgery can reduce or eliminate short-sightedness, but is an option that should be taken with caution. Some patients experience a reoccurrence of their short-sightedness and in some cases, the condition becomes worse than before they had the surgery. Your optician will usually advise that you wait until you’re at least 21 before you consider this option as your eyes are still developing and your myopia could stabilise.

Can myopia be prevented or controlled?

There are some options for preventing and controlling myopia that have mixed results depending on each patient.

One of the most popular is orthokeratology, a non-surgical procedure requires that you wear rigid gas permeable contact lenses at night. The lens reshapes your cornea while you sleep and temporarily retains the shape throughout the day giving you clearer vision. Those who have minor myopia will have near perfect vision and may only require an aid for activities such as driving at night or going to the cinema.

Quick links:

Do I need an eye test?
How long is a contact lens prescription good for?
What does an eye test involve?
A guide to hyperopia



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