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What is Nearsightedness?

Prescription eyeglasses can often be used to treat nearsightedness.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the most common cause of blurred vision when viewing objects at a distance.
Nearsighted children may have trouble seeing the blackboard in a classroom.
Consult with an optometrist if you are experiencing vision problems.
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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
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Nearsightedness or myopia is the most common cause of blurred vision when viewing objects at a distance. People with this condition must squint or strain to see objects that are not nearby. This is most notable for children in a classroom setting where it can be difficult to read the blackboard. At home, a child with myopia might insist on sitting close to the television or hold books very near his or her face.

People can develop nearsightedness early in life or in adulthood, and it is caused by the eyeball becoming oval or egg-shaped instead of round. When this happens, light entering the eye's lens does not reach the retina at the back of the eyeball, but focuses just ahead of it. The result is blurred vision.

Nearsightedness is not considered a disease, but caused by a natural shift in the shape of the eye. If one or both parents have the problem, it is more likely their children will also have it. Some evidence suggests that the condition might also be brought on by doing too much close work over a prolonged period of time. Luckily, there are many ways to treat this vision problem.

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Eyeglasses can correct nearsightedness and advancements in lens material have made glasses more comfortable than ever. At one time, severe cases required thick lenses that distorted the face, making the eyes look abnormally small, but this is no longer true. Special lenses today can be so thin and light as to hardly be noticeable, while correcting nearly any grade of nearsightedness.

For those who don't like wearing glasses, contact lenses are another option for correcting this vision problem. Hard or soft lenses are available in clear or tinted styles. Some people like to buy tinted contacts to change the color of their eyes. Others have difficulty placing something on the eye, or have abnormally dry eyes that limit the type of lenses that can be worn.

If glasses and contacts are both undesirable, implanted lenses or laser surgery are two more options for correcting nearsightedness. These choices are more expensive than contact lenses or glasses.

Though rare, there are other possible causes for nearsightedness that can be serious. Advanced or uncontrolled diabetes can cause vision problems, as can a condition called pathological myopia, in which the rear portion of the eyeball continues to grow past adulthood. Cataracts can also cause blurred vision.

In most cases, however, people suffering from nearsightedness can easily be relieved of the condition through one or more of these treatments. If the onset occurs in childhood, the person's vision commonly gets worse into early adulthood, then stabilizes. Myopia generally does not get better on its own, though it might improve somewhat as patients approach middle age or their senior years.

This article contains general information, but is not to be used in place of a medical diagnosis or construed as medical advice. People who are experiencing problems with their vision should see a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist.

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Discuss this Article

anon933176
Post 14

I am nearsighted. I just got new glasses and put them on things got blurry. I can see clearer afar, but now seeing close up is blurry when I wear my new glasses. Therefore, to see close up, I must remove my glasses. My old glasses had bifocals, which I never got used to and never used. I could see fine without using them and continued to look over them but I could see close up and did not have to remove my glasses to see either close up or distance. Is something wrong with the glasses?

anon351298
Post 13

I also got the very welcome surprise that my eyes have improved since wearing the same prescription for more than 20 years. I'm a female in my late 30s and my prescription went from 3.00 in each eye to 3.5 and 3.25 in the other. Pretty cool!

I wear my glasses all the time. I suppose the only change besides aging is that I stopped wearing contact lenses about a year and a half ago, but I don't know if that would contribute to the positive change. From other sites I've researched, as a person ages, the lens gets added cell layers like an onion and this makes the lens stiffer, which can lead in some to vision correction.

anon176848
Post 12

i am nearsighted and i am wearing now eye glasses. isn't it bad to wear them all the time?

anon172448
Post 11

I am 58 years old and have been wearing glasses for nearsightedness since the third grade. Over the past 10 yrs. my prescriptions were getting weaker. This year I was told I don't even have to wear glasses anymore. The only thing I can attribute this to, is, I have been trying not to wear my glasses all the time for many years and believe my eyes have gotten stronger from doing that. It's a miracle!

anon114974
Post 10

@Anon16654: My eight year old daughter was prescribed eyeglasses yesterday for her nearsightedness but only when needed, like looking at whiteboard in school. I spoke to couple of parents and they say she should wear them full time. I am confused? PS: nobody in my family has glasses, so I have no idea what to do.

anon76510
Post 9

what is -2.50 for the nearsighted scale?

anon63352
Post 8

I believe that I am nearsighted, I have tired eyes and headaches. I have told my mother about it and she won't take me to the eye doc. My eyes get very blurry after I read a book. I can read the book fine but when I look around after I read everything is blurry. Am I nearsighted?

anon60449
Post 7

what is the sign for near sighted? + or -?

anon55462
Post 6

I was nearsighted since 11 years old with 20/180 and 20/200 vision.

In my mid-50s my eyes started improving rapidly and I have not worn glasses now for about three or four years. My vision corrected to 20/20 and 20/30 on its own.

anon28911
Post 5

I'm a child and politely disagree with the statement that says nearsightedness grows worse over time into adulthood because my eyesight corrected itself naturally over a few years.

anon18800
Post 3

thanks now i know more about it... i'm nearsighted, though it's not that bad.

anon16654
Post 2

I respectfully disagree about nearsightedness (at least in my case) not improving with age. I've been near sighted all my life but I don't like wearing glasses and only wear them when necessary. My vision has stayed pretty much the same until the past couple of years where I have had to get a different prescription because my near sightedness had improved. The guy at the eye glass store was not surprised at all and says this happens all the time.

anon1035
Post 1

How can eye disorder (myopia) be related to diabetes?

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