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A Clear View of Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Are you squinting to see what's on the television screen? Does the classroom board look blurry? Do you hold your books close to your eyes while reading? You may be nearsighted.

Seeing distant objects clearly is difficult for people with myopia, aka nearsightedness. Objects that are farther than a few inches or a few feet away look blurry and trying to focus on them can cause fatigue, excessive eyestrain, headaches and squinting. Everyday activities, like driving and sports, become difficult as the quality of vision detracts from enjoying life. If this sounds like your vision condition, you're not alone.

Myopia is a common vision condition, affecting nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population. It tends to run in families, typically beginning in early adolescence, progressing with age, and stabilizing in young adults. In Up Close with Nearsightedness, a VSP eye doctor recalls one young patient's struggle with myopia.

Like other refractive errors, myopia is a vision problem that occurs when the shape of the eye keeps you from focusing well. In a normally shaped eye, light rays that enter the eye are focused directly on the retina (the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye). In eyes that are nearsighted, light is focused only in front of the retina or before it reaches the retina. To correct myopia, a lens that is thinner at the center than at the edges is used to direct light away from the center of the retina, moving the focal point of light back so it reaches the retina.

Common Myopia Symptoms:

  • Excessive blinking
  • Squinting
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty seeing objects while driving

Treating Myopia

Myopia is easily corrected with eyeglasses and/or contact lenses that refocus light rays onto the retina of the eye. Surgical options such as LASIK and PRK can also correct myopia, but there are risks involved and not everyone is a good candidate for laser eye surgery. If blurred distance vision is caused by muscle spasms in the eye, vision therapy exercises can be practiced to improve poor vision.

A comprehensive eye exam by a VSP eye doctor will provide you with the eye tests necessary to determine if you are nearsighted. Your eye doctor will tell you which treatment - corrective lenses, surgery, vision therapy, or a combination of treatments – is right for you. If you or your child exhibits symptoms of myopia, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for early treatment.