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Eye Disease Explained: Myopia (nearsightedness)

Posted on January 25, 2024 in Vision Health

Child taking notes from her computer to a notebook.

If you or your loved ones spend time close to a smart device, computer, or even a book, they may be at a higher risk of developing myopia, often called nearsightedness.

What is myopia? 

Myopia is a common vision disorder that affects more than an estimated 40 percent of Americans and is typically diagnosed before the age of 20.

People with myopia can see nearby items clearly, but as objects move farther away, they become increasingly blurry and difficult to see. Myopia is a serious disease that shouldn’t be ignored. You need clear distance vision for everyday tasks like driving, walking, reading signs, and other routine activities.

What causes myopia? 

According to the American Optometric Association, "Myopia occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is too curved.”  As a consequence, the eye is unable to focus light properly as it enters, causing vision to blur.

Experts are unsure of the exact causes of myopia, however many believe that genetics can play a part. Studies have identified more than 200 genes linked to myopia. Because it’s believed to be hereditary, there are limited options for prevention. However, some experts think reducing screen time and exercising eyes by spending time outside can help decrease the risk of developing myopia.

Symptoms of myopia 

Diagnosing myopia is relatively simple. If you start to notice that objects in the distance are blurry or have trouble seeing far away, there's a good chance you are nearsighted.

In addition to blurry vision, other symptoms of myopia may include squinting, headaches, and eyestrain. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to get your eyes checked by an eye doctor to determine the best treatment option. 

How to treat myopia

Contact lenses and glasses are the most common solutions for treating myopia. Although they don't provide a complete cure, they can help correct your vision and make distant objects appear clearer. 

Laser surgery, like LASIK, can be an excellent option for people seeking a long-term solution, but it’s dependent upon the structure of an individual’s eyes.

If you're experiencing symptoms that you think may be myopia, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam.