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.
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.