Myopia: Seeing Clearly Through Near-sightedness

14 June 2024

Do you ever struggle to see distant objects like highway signs until you’re practically right in front of them but have no problem reading a book up close?

If so, you likely have myopia, commonly known as near-sightedness. Your eye doctor can easily address this prevalent vision condition with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or even corrective surgery.

What Causes Myopia?

The culprit behind myopia lies in the structure of your eye. When your eyeball is too long, or the cornea (the transparent outer layer) is excessively curved, light entering your eye focuses incorrectly. Instead of focusing directly on the retina, the light-sensitive part at the back of your eye, the image lands in front of it, resulting in blurry distant vision. Doctors call this a refractive error.

Who Gets Myopia?

While anyone can develop myopia, certain factors increase your chances:

  • Family History: Having a parent with myopia increases your risk, and having both parents with it makes it even more likely.
  • Close-up Activities: Extensive near work like reading or detailed crafts can strain your eyes and contribute to losing far vision.
  • Screen Time: Studies suggest prolonged screen time is linked to a higher risk for nearsightedness, especially in children.
  • Limited Outdoor Time: Spending more time outdoors seems to decrease the risk of myopia.

Symptoms of Myopia:

Blurry distant vision is the most common symptom, but you might also experience:

  • Headaches
  • Squinting
  • Eye strain
  • Eye fatigue when focusing on objects further than a few feet away.

Types of Myopia:

There are two main types of myopia:

  • Simple Myopia (Non-pathological): This type usually begins in childhood or adolescence and typically stabilises after those years. Corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or contacts, can restore clear vision.
  • Degenerative Myopia (Pathological): This rarer type, often inherited, causes the eyeball to lengthen rapidly, leading to severe myopia by the teenage years. It can continue to worsen throughout adulthood and carries a higher risk of retinal detachment, abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye, and glaucoma. Additionally, vision may not be completely corrected with lenses.

Myopia Diagnosis:

A comprehensive eye exam conducted by your eye doctor can diagnose myopia.

During the exam, you might undergo:

  • Nearsighted Test: This test measures your ability to see distant objects using a Snellen chart.
  • Phoropter Test: This device uses various lenses to determine the lens power that corrects your vision.


If you have myopia, your prescription for glasses or contacts will be a negative number. The more negative the number, the stronger your lenses will need to be.

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Treatment Options for Myopia:

The goal of treatment is to help the eye focus light correctly on the retina, restoring clear vision. Here are the standard options:

  • Myopia Lenses:
    • Eyeglasses: These are typically the first line of treatment.
    • Contact Lenses: Rigid gas-permeable or soft lenses are available, requiring additional measurements for proper fit.
  • Refractive Surgery: In some cases, surgery may permanently improve your vision, potentially eliminating the need for glasses or contacts. Common options include:
    • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK): Uses a laser to reshape the cornea.
    • LASIK: This popular surgery creates a corneal flap, reshapes the cornea with a laser, and then replaces the flap.
    • EVO Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL): A soft lens is implanted inside the eye to correct the focus.


For high myopia, special contact lenses or atropine eye drops may be used to slow its progression. Cataract or clear lens replacement surgery may sometimes be an option.

Can Myopia Be Cured?

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for myopia. However, the available treatments are very effective, often restoring vision to 20/20. Even with surgeries like LASIK, some vision correction might still be needed as one ages.


Does Myopia Get Better Over Time?

Myopia often starts in childhood and runs in families. Multifocal lenses or eye drops may help slow its progression, but your eyes usually stop changing dramatically after adolescence.