Myopia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Understanding Myopia

If you find that your vision is blurry when trying to focus on things at a distance, there is a chance that you might have Myopia. 

Myopia is a medical term used to describe short-sightedness. People with myopia find that objects or people at a distance look blurry to some degree, but they always have a distance where things closer them appear clear. This is because when the light enters a myopic eye, which is often slightly longer, it falls in front of the retina, thus the name "short-sighted".

Normal eye versus myopic eye

In a short- sighted eye, the eyeball is elongated or stretched, creating a longer distance between the cornea and the retina (the “front” and the “back” of the eye) in these eyes the cornea may also have a different shape. This combination causes light to not focus properly
 

  • Myopia symptoms

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MYOPIA?

Short-sightedness usually begins to show itself in childhood, with the amount of vision correction needed usually stabilising by early adulthood. Today optometrists are noting that symptoms can occur later in life once people start university or their first job after school. Common myopia symptoms include the following:

  • Squinting or screwing up your eyes to try and see clearly
  • Headaches across the front or down the sides of the head
  • Having clear sight up-close but objects further away appear blurry

Myopia is hereditary and can be easily diagnosed with an eye test. External factors in the onset of myopia, such as excessive near work have also been reported but the genetic link tends to be the main contributing factor. For example, children with two myopic parents are more likely to be myopic than a child with only one myopic parent. Individuals with or without a genetic risk are advised to have an eye test every two to three years to check their vision.

What Is High Myopia?

The degree or severity of myopia is usually measured by optometrists in negative amounts of "dioptres" (a measure of how light is refracted or bent), for example, mild myopia is measured at between -0.25 to -3.00 dioptres (D).

High myopia is categorised as any power greater than -4.00 D. People with high myopia can be at risk from other complications related to eye health, such as cataracts, glaucoma or retinal detachment.

What are dioptres? Dioptres are the units of measurement used when describing the level of vision or refractive error of the eye. If you wear prescription lenses, the correction required in measured in dioptres with negative (-) meaning you’re short-sighted and positive (+) if you have long-sightedness.

Is There A Cure For Myopia?

There is no way to permanently put an end to short-sightedness just yet. However, prescription glasses, contact lenses, orthokeratology and refractive eye surgery are effective measures for ensuring clear vision for the myopic person. Regular check-ups with an optometrist will help monitor myopia and ensure optimal eye health.

Links have also been made between spending time outdoors and a positive effect on reducing the risk of myopia. Parents are also advised to limit the time children spend in front of computers or on digital devices like mobile phones and tablets as there is a link to more hours of close work and the development of myopia. 

Living With Myopia

Being short-sighted can make it difficult to function effectively if your vision is not corrected. It can also be uncomfortable for many people as myopia will cause eyestrain and headaches as a direct side effect.

In children the a common way to manage the condition is to use progressive lenses. This differs from the usual single vision lenses that only correct distance vision, but do not help with vision at near which can add to the development of myopia. Today there is a variety of effective means for controlling the increase in myopia in children such as: orthokeratology; certain soft. multifocal contact lenses; atropine eye drops. Ask your optometrist about the best approach for your child.

  • Myopia kids vs adults

Age and Myopia: Kids vs Adults

Myopia often starts to show between the ages of 6 and 12 or in the early teens. Complaints of headaches, inability to focus and difficulty seeing things on the whiteboard in the classroom are all signs of short-sightedness. If it is present in an infant, parents should look for signs such as squinting and rubbing of the eyes or a child wanting to hold books or other things close to themselves or walking up to the TV and being angry if you try to move them back further.

Parents should have their child’s eyes checked at regular intervals to test for myopia. Early treatment of myopia in children can help control its progression early on in life to try and minimise the degree of myopia to below -4.00D. Therefore, you should conduct checks on your child’s eyes regularly:

  • The first checkup should be done during the first year of their life preferably around 6mths.
  • The next should be at three and a half.
  • The third at five years old or just before starting school

After the age of five, regular health checkups and visits to the optometrist should be sufficient to catch it early.

Myopia in children can escalate quickly as their bodies and eyes grow. The growing eye can stretch and create myopia. However, children with myopia usually achieve steady vision in their teens.

In adults, any change in distance vision may also have hidden causes such as diabetes or cataracts so regular eye tests are equally important.

WORRIED YOUR CHILD MAY HAVE MYOPIA?

Get their vision tested today, visit your nearest optometrist.

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