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SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Eye Disorders

Nearsightedness

The following information is courtesy of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH).

What is nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is a common type of refractive error where close objects appear clearly, but distant objects appear blurry.

Myopia

The cornea and lens bend (refract) incoming light rays so they focus in front of the retina.


How does nearsightedness develop?

Nearsightedness develops in eyes that focus images in front of the retina instead of on the retina, which results in blurred vision. This occurs when the eyeball becomes too long and prevents incoming light from focusing directly on the retina. It may also be caused by an abnormal shape of the cornea or lens.

Who is at risk for nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness can affect both children and adults. The condition affects about 25 percent of Americans. Nearsightedness is often diagnosed in children between 8 and 12 years of age and may worsen during the teen years. Little change may occur between ages 20 to 40, but sometimes nearsightedness may worsen with age. People whose parents are nearsighted may be more likely to get the condition.

What are the signs and symptoms of nearsightedness?

Some of the signs and symptoms of nearsightedness include:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty seeing distant objects, such as highway signs

How is nearsightedness diagnosed?

An eye care professional can diagnose nearsightedness and other refractive errors during a comprehensive dilated eye examination. People with this condition often visit their eye care professional with complaints of visual discomfort or blurred vision.

How is nearsightedness corrected?

Nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.

Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct nearsightedness. Your eye care professional can prescribe lenses that will correct the problem and help you to see your best.

Contact lenses work by becoming the first refractive surface for light rays entering the eye, causing a more precise refraction or focus. In many cases, contact lenses may provide clearer vision, wider field of vision, and greater comfort. They are a safe and effective option if fitted and used properly. However, contact lenses may not be the best option for everyone.

If you certain eye conditions you may not be able to wear contact lenses. Discuss this with your eye care professional.

Refractive surgery aims to permanently change the shape of the cornea which will improve refractive vision. Surgery can decrease or eliminate dependency on wearing eyeglasses and contact lenses. There are many types of refractive surgeries and surgical options should be discussed with an eye care professional.


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