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Myopia

Overview

Myopia is another name for short-sightedness or near-sightedness, an eye condition where people have trouble seeing clearly in the distance without glasses.

Signs and Symptoms

Someone with nearsightedness may squint noticeably when trying to view distant objects. They may also sit very close to the television or bring books very close to their eyes when reading. Sometimes nearsightedness causes people to be totally unaware of far-away objects.

Causes

Nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball is slightly longer than normal, or when the cornea is steeper than average. These conditions cause light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on its surface. In most cases, nearsightedness is inherited. However, there is some evidence that suggests intense close-up activities, such as reading for prolonged periods of time at close range or playing video games for many hours, in early adulthood can induce nearsightedness. Although doctors often see this in clinical practice, research is still split on this as a cause of nearsightedness.

Diagnosis

Nearsightedness is usually detected during childhood, between the ages of 10 and 20. It is often discovered when a child complains of not being able to see the chalkboard. The condition often continues to get worse but stabilizes in the mid-to-late-twenties. Nearsightedness is diagnosed by a comprehensive eye examination completed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. A refraction test, performed during the examination, confirms the diagnosis of myopia. In some cases, cycloplegic refraction will be performed. Cycloplegic refraction may be important because younger people tend to test as slightly more nearsighted than they actually are. Some individuals over-focus or have accommodative spasms when tested.

Treatment

Depending on the degree of nearsightedness, some people may only need glasses for driving or watching a movie. Others with a high degree of nearsightedness may only have a clear vision a few inches from their nose. Nearsightedness can be treated with glasses, contact lenses, or laser procedures, such as LASIK. In some cases, myopia may also be treated with a corneal-reshaping procedure, although results are usually temporary in nature.