What is Myopia or Nearsightedness?

Myopia or nearsightedness is a common vision disorder where by patients are able to see objects up close, but are unable to focus clearly on objects in the distance. Myopia is caused because of one of two things, either a persons eye grows to long or the outside of the eye is to steep, causing images to focus in front of the retina.

Typically, patients will start to notice problems with their distance vision in their school years, but myopia can develop at any age. It may also be a sign of a more serious medical problem, such as diabetes or cataracts, especially if the onset of myopia is very sudden and dramatic.

There has been increased research in the area of myopia in recent years, as the world as seen a sudden surge in the number of people requiring distance vision correction. Studies suggest that myopia may be related to near point stress, and numerous studies show that myopia increases along with a person’s level of education. Newer studies out of China also point towards dietary factors playing a large role in the development of myopia, however these studies are far from complete. A study out of the UK at the St. Thomas Hospital also showed the genetics probably plays a large role in the develop of myopia while environmental factors may only play a small or limited role.

Initial symptoms of myopia include problems focusing on small objects far away like road signs or the channel guide on TV. People can find themselves squinting or developing frontal headaches from having to squint. Children often complain about being unable to see the board at school, while adults often complain about poor night vision or increased glare. Symptoms almost always worsen in low light level situations.

Treatment options for people affected by myopia or nearsightedness are numerous. Traditionally, eyeglasses have been the primary treatment option, however, patients also have access to contact lenses, laser vision correction, and intra-ocular lens implants. It is important to always discuss lifestyle and your work situation with your optometrist or ophthalmologist when determining your best treatment option or options. It is also recommended that patients with myopia receive regular eye health examinations by an optometrist or ophthalmologist every one to two years.


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