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Nearsightedness (Myopia) 101: What it is and How to Fix it?

In the world of eyeballs, there are almost as many terms for conditions as there are hairs on your head. Keeping them all straight can be challenging, but we’re here to help make sense of it all. Today, we’re exploring one of the most common eye conditions in the optometry field: Myopia- AKA short-sightedness or near-sightedness. If you have this condition, you probably already know something is “off” with your vision, but you might not know exactly what that is. 

Keep reading to learn what farsightedness is, what causes it, and the best way to correct this common refractive error. 

What Does Nearsightedness Mean? What is Myopia?

Myopia (the medical term for nearsightedness) is a condition where you can see objects close-up clearly, but you have difficulty seeing things that are off in the distance. This refractive error is caused by your cornea being too curved- or too elongated- resulting in the light focusing in front of the retina instead of ON the retina. 

Nearsightedness is extremely common, so you’re not alone if you’re experiencing this vision complication. In fact, over 3 million people are diagnosed with nearsightedness each year in the U.S. alone.  

What Causes Nearsightedness?

The exact cause of nearsightedness is unknown, but there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that this condition is hereditary. For example, if one or both of your parents are nearsighted, it’s highly likely that you will experience this as well- or at least the conditions will be ripe for you to develop it yourself. 

But even though nearsightedness can be inherited, the actual development of this condition may be greatly affected by how you’re physically using your eyes on a daily basis. If you spend long hours working at a computer exposed to blue light, read for extended periods of time, or do other prolonged activities with your eyes, you might be more likely to develop myopia or nearsightedness. 

Additionally, if you do an excessive amount of close-up work, you might experience a false or “pseudo” myopia. This is caused by overworking the focusing mechanism in your eyes. After long periods of up-close work, your eyes are unable to refocus to see clearly in the distance. Oftentimes this goes away after taking a break to let your eyes rest. 

Symptoms of nearsightedness can also be a sign of variations in blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, or it may be an early indication that you’re developing a cataract.

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Symptoms of Nearsightedness

If you’re nearsighted, you’ll probably find yourself squinting to see things far away. You might even find that squinting doesn’t help at all; with advanced stages of myopia, you may not be able to see anything at all without your glasses or contacts. 

If you’re struggling with myopia, you probably already know it. However, if you’re a unsure of what your specific vision issue is, here are some of the main symptoms of nearsightedness:

  • Blurry vision when looking at distant objects
  • Constant headaches 
  • Difficulty seeing while driving, especially during the night
  • Squinting or partially closing your eyes to “see better”
  • Eye strain or fatigue

Can You Avoid Nearsightedness?

As far as we know, it’s not possible to prevent nearsightedness. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that you can potentially slow down its development and catch it early on. To help protect your eyes:

  • Opt for yearly eye exams
  • Wear sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) radiation protection
  • Use protective eyewear when participating in risky activities
  • When you’re working at a computer, give your eyes regular breaks
  • Manage any chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Consume foods that support eye health 
  • Avoid smoking

How to Diagnose Nearsightedness

It’s always a good idea to talk to your eye doctor if you’re having difficulty seeing- but especially if you think you might be experiencing nearsightedness. 

When you go in for your eye exam, tell your doctor what symptoms you’re having, what your vision challenges are, and explain any relevant family history. Your eye doctor can diagnose nearsightedness by performing a basic exam, which includes a refraction assessment and an eye health exam. 

After a professional diagnosis, you can work with your doctor to formulate a plan of action. You have options!

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How Do You Correct Nearsightedness?

When it comes to correcting nearsightedness, you ultimately have three options; prescription glasses, contact lenses, and refractive surgery. 

Eyeglasses help make up for the irregular curve of your cornea by shifting the focus of light as it enters your eye. If you’re nearsighted, you might have to wear corrective lenses all the time, or just for isolated activities, like driving or sitting in a classroom.

Contact lenses give you a slightly wider field of corrected vision than glasses do, and they offer a bit more versatility (instead of wrestling with glasses all day). However, there are many risks associated with contact lenses, including infections, pink eye and corneal scratches. 

Contacts can present several risks to the overall health of your eyes, which is why so many people turn to LASIK surgery to correct their farsightedness.

Refractive surgery offers an easy and permanent solution for nearsightedness. Also referred to as LASIK laser eye surgery, this procedure painlessly reshapes the cornea to properly focus light onto your retina. Most patients who undergo this procedure find that they no longer need to wear their glasses or contacts afterwards and experience the relief of 20/20 vision. 

Does LASIK Treat Nearsightedness?

Are you wondering: “does LASIK treat nearsightedness?” If so, the answer is: YES. 

LASIK is the most commonly performed laser eye surgery for refractive errors (like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism). Our doctors only perform bladeless LASIK and PRK surgery, which means that a special laser- as well as topical anaesthetic numbing drops- are used for these procedures, so you won’t feel anything besides a tiny bit of pressure. 

During the LASIK procedure, a tiny flap is created in the cornea, which is folded back to give the laser deeper access to the corneal tissue. Some of this tissue is then removed, making the eye more thin and allowing the light to focus on the back of the eye, instead. The flap is then replaced and the procedure is finished!

With laser eye surgery, both of your eyes are optimized for distance- allowing you to see clearly without needing to use glasses or contacts. In a study published in the Journal of Refractive Surgery, they found that 95% of patients who had chosen LASIK had 20/20 vision four years later, without the use of glasses or contacts. In the 20 years since LASIK has been around, doctors in the U.S. have performed more than 19 million of these procedures.

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From the very beginning, LasikPlus has been proud to partner with some of the nation’s most experienced surgeons, and has invested in the most advanced technology to provide you with the best experience possible. 

At LasikPlus, you can take comfort in knowing that you are putting your vision in the most capable hands. 

The Final Word on Nearsightedness

When it comes to nearsightedness and myopia, it’s helpful to go see your eye doctor yearly for a comprehensive eye exam. They can help you detect any issues and help you address them as early as possible. 

Nearsightedness can be treated easily and effectively with LASIK surgery. If you would like to learn more about PRK or LASIK for nearsightedness, call 1.866.755.2026 or book your free consultation with us today!