What is nearsightedness?
Nearsightedness (myopia) is a common cause of blurred vision. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. If you are nearsighted, objects in the distance appear blurry and out of focus. You might squint or frown when trying to see distant objects clearly. View a photo as seen through a normal and a nearsighted eye .
Nearsightedness is usually a variation from normal, not a disease. Less often, nearsightedness happens because of another disease or condition.
What causes nearsightedness?
Most nearsightedness is caused by a natural change in the shape of the eyeball. Less often, nearsightedness may be caused by a change in the cornea or the lens .
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is blurred vision when looking at distant objects. If you can see well enough to read newspaper print but you struggle to see things that are farther away, you are probably nearsighted. You may have trouble clearly seeing images or words on a blackboard, movie screen, or television. This can lead to poor school, athletic, or work performance.
Your child may be nearsighted if he or she squints or frowns, gets headaches often, or holds books or other objects very close to his or her face. Children who are nearsighted may sit at the front of the classroom or very close to the TV or movie screen. They may not be interested in sports or other activities that require good distance vision.
If you think that your child may be nearsighted, see an eye care specialist. Treating nearsightedness early is important. With better visual skills, your child won't have as much trouble doing school work and other activities that require a person to see things far away.
When does nearsightedness start? How does it change over time?
Nearsightedness usually begins in childhood around ages 6 to 12. During the teen years, as the eyeballs continue to grow, it may develop or get worse quickly. Teenagers may need new glasses every 12 months or even more often.
Nearsightedness usually stops getting worse by age 20. Most nearsightedness stabilizes at a mild to moderate level.
How is nearsightedness diagnosed?
A routine eye examination can show whether you are nearsighted. The eye examination includes questions about your eyesight and a physical examination of your eyes. Ophthalmoscopy, slit lamp examinations, and other tests that check vision and eye health are also part of a routine eye examination.
Eye examinations should be done for new babies and at all routine checkups. 1 Nearsightedness is usually first discovered in children of grade-school age.
How is it treated?
Most people who are nearsighted use eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct their vision.
Surgery can also reduce or fix nearsightedness. There are several surgery options, such as LASIK, PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), and artificial lens implants. The goal of surgery is to help you see more clearly without glasses or contacts. Most doctors consider 20/40 vision or better after surgery a satisfactory result. People with 20/40 vision or better are allowed to drive a car without corrective lenses.
If glasses or contact lenses are inconvenient for your work or lifestyle, surgery may be a good choice. But nearsightedness is not a disease, and a nearsighted eye is otherwise normal and healthy. Weigh your desire to have clear vision without glasses or contacts against the risks and cost of surgery. And be aware that you may still need to wear glasses or contact lenses after surgery.
If your vision doesn't bother you and if you have no driving problems or other safety concerns, you don't need to have any treatment. Nearsightedness won't affect the health of your eye, and it won't get worse just because you don't wear glasses or don't have surgery.
If you are nearsighted, get regular eye examinations, and see your eye care specialist if you have changes in your vision.
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|Nearsightedness: Should I Have Laser Surgery?|
Frequently Asked Questions
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Other Places To Get Help
|Canadian Association of Optometrists|
|234 Argyle Avenue|
|Ottawa, ON K2P 1B9|
The Canadian Association of Optometrists represents the profession of optometry and works to enhance the quality, availability, and accessibility of eye, vision, and related health care. Its Web site provides information on optometry as well as eye health information.
|Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)|
|1929 Bayview Avenue|
|Toronto, ON M4G 3E8|
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) is a voluntary agency dedicated to helping improve the lives of the blind and visually impaired, preventing blindness, and promoting sight enhancement services. The organization offers a variety of publications and educational resources about vision loss and impairment.
|Canadian Ophthalmological Society|
|610-1525 Carling Avenue|
|Ottawa, ON K1Z 8R9|
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society is an association of eye doctors dedicated to helping the public take good care of their eyes and vision. This group provides educational information on eye conditions and diseases and eye safety.
|Health Canada Laser Eye Surgery for Vision Correction|
Health Canada's Laser Eye Surgery webpage provides basic information about laser eye surgeries available in Canada.
- Community Paediatrics Committee, Canadian Paediatric Society (2009). Vision screening in infants, children and youth. Paediatrics and Child Health, 14(4): 246–248. Available online: http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/cp/cp09-02.htm
Other Works Consulted
- Kemper AR, et al. (2012). Uncorrected distance visual impairment among adolescents in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health, 50(6): 645–647.
- Riordan-Eva P (2011). Optics and refraction. In P Riordan-Eva, ET Cunningham, eds., Vaughan and Asbury's General Ophthalmology, 18th ed., pp. 396–411. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Trobe JD (2006). Principal ophthalmic conditions. Physician's Guide to Eye Care, 3rd ed., pp. 93–140. San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology|
|Last Revised||July 22, 2013|
Last Revised: July 22, 2013
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