Understanding Myopia (nearsightedness): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Published on
May 30, 2023

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is one of the most common vision problems people experience. In this blog post, we'll discuss the causes and symptoms of myopia and how optometrists can help correct this common vision issue and prevent complications that arise from myopia.

What is Myopia?

Myopia is a vision condition in which the eyes focus too close, making distant objects appear blurry. This occurs when the cornea and lens of the eye focus light in front of the retina instead of directly on it. In simpler terms, the focusing system of the eye is too strong, causing light to be focused in front of the retina.

Use Our Myopia Simulator

How does myopia (nearsightedness) impact your child in the classroom or while engaging in sports? Use our myopia simulator to see how your myopic child may see the world around them and better understand how that is impacting their success.

Symptoms of Myopia

The primary symptom of myopia is difficulty seeing clearly at a distance. People with myopia may experience:

  • Blurry vision when looking at street signs or objects far away
  • Clear vision when looking at objects up close
  • Squinting or straining to see distant objects
  • Headaches due to eye strain when trying to focus on distant objects
  • Frequent eye rubbing, especially after extended periods of distance viewing
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in low-light situations
  • Trouble discerning details or recognizing faces from afar

Causes of Myopia

The exact cause of myopia is still unclear, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some possible factors include:

  • A family history of myopia increases the risk of developing the condition
  • Excessive near work, such as reading or screen time, may contribute to the development of myopia
  • Prolonged time spent indoors during childhood, with limited exposure to natural daylight
  • Insufficient time spent focusing on distant objects, leading to an imbalance in the eye's focusing muscles
  • Rapid growth spurts in children and adolescents, causing changes in the shape and length of the eye
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of developing myopia

Correcting Myopia with Glasses and Contact Lenses

When discussing treating or correcting myopia, there is a lot of confusion. 

The primary goal of treating myopia is to correct the vision problem by adjusting the focusing power of the eye to move the focus point onto the retina. This is achieved through the use of glasses or contact lenses that correct the vision problem by changing the focusing power of the eye.

Glasses and contact lenses work by shifting the focus point from in front of the retina to directly on the retina. As a result, people with myopia can see clearly at a distance, and their natural focusing system allows them to see clearly up close as well.

Stopping or Slowing Myopia Progression 

While normal glasses and contact lenses correct the visual disturbance caused by myopia, pediatric optometrists urge all parents of children with myopia to take the extra step to prevent severe vision problems later in life due to high myopia. Myopia management or myopia control is the use of specialized contact lenses or eye drops to slow or completely stop the increasing minus prescription during pre-teen and teen years. This is extremely important as many studies show that the higher the prescription the higher the risks of developing vision threatening diseases as your child ages. In fact for every diopter the prescription increases, there is a 20%-67% increase of eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment. 

Learn More About Myopia Management 

Visit a Myopia Management optometrist at an Amplify EyeCare practice near you:

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