Nearsightedness: Understanding This Vision Problem

Posted on: 14 June 2022


It's no secret that people have different eyesight. Some can see things far away, while others can only see things up close.

This post takes a closer look at nearsightedness and highlights a few things you might need to know about this vision problem.

A Brief Overview

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is a vision problem that makes it difficult for your eyes to make out objects from a certain distance. It occurs if your eyeball is too long or when the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) curves too much. This causes light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly, which results in a blurry image.

Nearsightedness is a very common type of vision problem. In fact, according to recent statistics, approximately 41.6% of Americans are myopic.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Several risk factors can increase your chance of developing nearsightedness, including:

  • Family history: If your parents or grandparents are nearsighted, you're more likely to be as well.
  • Age: Nearsightedness can sometimes begin in childhood and worsen during the teenage years.
  • Excessive reading or close work: People who spend a lot of time reading, working on the computer, or doing other close-up work are more likely to be nearsighted.

What Are the Symptoms?

The most common symptom of nearsightedness is difficulty seeing objects that are far away. If you're myopic, you may have trouble reading road signs or recognizing people's faces from a distance.

Other symptoms include squinting, headaches, and eye strain.

You may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of nearsightedness. As the condition progresses, you may start to notice that your vision is getting worse.

How Is Myopia Diagnosed?

If you suspect that you or your child may be nearsighted, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. During the exam, the doctor will perform a series of tests to determine whether nearsightedness is present.

The most common test used to diagnose nearsightedness is the eye chart test. This test measures how well you can see at various distances.

Other tests that may be performed include:

  • Retinoscopy. This test is often performed on children and involves shining a light into the eye to examine the retina (the back of the eye).
  • Autorefraction. This test uses a machine to measure the way light is bent (refracted) as it passes through the eye. Autorefraction is more accurate than retinoscopy for cylindrical refractive errors.

How Is Myopia Treated?

Eyeglasses or contact lenses are the simplest and most effective way to correct myopia. They work by bending (refracting) light so that it enters the eye correctly.

Refractive surgery is another option for treating nearsightedness. This type of surgery permanently changes the shape of the eye so that light is refracted correctly. The most common type of refractive surgery is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis).

For more information about nearsightedness, visit an eye and vision exam clinic in your area.