Myopia, also known as being near-sighted or short-sighted, is a very common cause of blurred vision, where far away objects appear out of focus.
Myopia symptoms and signs
A person with short sight will be able to see things up close quite clearly, like when they’re reading. But for tasks that require distance vision, like driving or watching TV, their vision is blurred.
It’s common for people without diagnosed myopia to also experience symptoms like headaches or eyestrain when trying to focus on things far away. Or for children, it can lead to other eye problems in early life like a squint or lazy eye.
Causes of myopia
Myopia occurs when the eye is effectively too long – so the distance between the cornea (the clear window at the front of the eye) and the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) is too far. This means that light entering the eye is focused before it reaches the retina, which causes blurred vision.
In some cases, it could be due to the shape of the cornea, or the thickness of the lens inside the eye.
There is a huge amount of research, both past and present into the causes of myopia. It is currently believed that hereditary factors are the most important. You are far more likely to develop myopia if one of your parents has it. However, the picture of who will or will not develop myopia is far from clear.
Short sight is usually detected quite early in life during a comprehensive eye test, which will test your vision as well as examining your eye in detail.
Although there is not a cure for myopia, the good news is that it can easily be corrected with the use of glasses or contact lenses with a minus lens power, like -3.00. This means the lens has a concave shape (curved inwards), which helps to improve your focus.
It may be that you need to wear glasses or contact lenses all the time, or just when you need them for clear distance vision like when you’re driving or watching a film.
For children who have early signs of short-sightedness, a practice called ‘myopia management’ has emerged that aims to minimise its progression through a few different methods. As well as the benefits of outdoor play4, these methods include the use of specialist contact lenses designed to minimise myopia progression in children and, early stage research into eye drops and specialist glasses lenses. Book them an appointment for an eye test to find out more
Adults also have the option of having laser eye surgery to correct their myopia. Your optician will be able to help you choose the right option for you.
Also known as pathological myopia, this is a rare type of short-sightedness, which can occur at any age. This can happen if you have high myopia (over -6.00) and could lead to vision loss or could mean a higher risk of developing certain eye conditions that need further treatment.
Remember, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms it’s important to get them checked by your GP and optometrist.