Nearsightedness

1 What is Nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness or Myopia is a very common condition of the eyes in which objects far to you seem to be blurry, while those that are near to you are clear.

Nearsightedness have a tendency to run in families, with the symptoms usually starting to develop during childhood and teenage years.

Nearsightedness can be easily detected with a simple eye exam and can be corrected by wearing contacts or eyeglasses.

2 Symptoms

The symptoms of nearsightedness include:

  • Squinting in order to see clearly
  • Distant objects seem to be blurry
  • Headaches due to eyestrain
  • Difficulty driving a vehicle

Children with Myopia often:

  • Squint
  • Sit very near the television or screen
  • Like sitting in front of the classroom
  • Do excessive eye blinking
  • Frequently rub eyes

See an eye doctor if you find it very difficult to see things that are distant and it seems to stop you in functioning well. The doctor can help you determine the problem and give you the options you may use in order to correct your vision. If suddenly, you experience eye floaters or see sudden flashes of light, go to the E.R. right away. These can be symptoms of retinal detachment, a complication of this condition.  

When to Have Eye Exams?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, adults who are at risk of having certain eye problems like glaucoma, should undergo an eye exam every 2 years or so up to the age 40. Adults aged 40 to 54 should have the test every one to three years, while those aged 55 and up should get an eye exam every year or two.

On the other hand, if you have normal vision, do not wear contacts or eyeglasses, and aren’t at high risk of developing glaucoma, you may have an eye exam less frequently. It is advisable to visit your eye doctor once in a while and ask how often you have to undergo an eye check. 

In case you experience sudden vision problems, see a doctor right away, regardless of how updated your eye exam was. Blurred vision, for instance, may only mean you need to have your prescription changed, or it may be a symptom of other underlying eye problems.

3 Causes

Nearsightedness or Myopia is usually caused by a defective cornea. The cornea is either too long or is too steeply curved. The defect causes the rays of light to focus in front of the retina, whereas it should be on the retina, thus the blurring of images. 

The reason why some people have this condition is still unknown, but experts consider environmental conditions and genetics as the main culprits. 

In a normal vision, the eye depends on its two vital parts – the cornea and lens. An eye with a normal shape has a perfect curvature like that of a smooth ball’s surface. 

An eye with a refractive error, on the other hand, has a cornea or lens that is not smooth and evenly curved, thus the light rays that enter it are not refracted properly. 

Apart from nearsightedness, other eye refraction errors are farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism.

4 Making a Diagnosis

A complete eye exam is required to diagnose nearsightedness.

There are three kinds of eye specialists:

  • Ophthalmologist – an eye doctor with a degree in medicine or osteopathy who specializes in full eye care. An ophthalmologist performs comprehensive eye exams, prescribes corrective lenses, diagnoses and treats eye disorders (both common and complicated), He or she also performs eye surgery whenever necessary. 
  • Optometrist – an eye doctor with optometry degree (O.D.) Optometrists evaluate or asses vision, diagnose common conditions of the eyes, and prescribe corrective lenses, as well. 
  • Optician – a person who specializes with the fitting of corrective lenses, as per the ophthalmologist’s or optometrist’s prescriptions. An optician does not diagnose eye diseases, let alone treat them. 

Regardless of the eye specialist you prefer, the following info can help you prepare for your scheduled appointment:

If you are already wearing lenses, don’t forget to bring them as you visit the specialist. The specialist will be able to determine the prescription type you already have by using your lenses and a special device. 

Make a list of symptoms that you experience lately. 

Write down all the medications and supplements that you’ve been taking.

Make a list of questions. This will keep you from forgetting any important matter that involves your eye problem. 

A thorough exam may involve a series of tests, including using various instruments like bright lights and different lenses. The doctor will do these tests in order to know the aspects of your eyes, which will help determine the required prescription to give you clearer and corrected vision.

5 Treatment

Nearsightedness is treated by helping the retina focus on light rays with the use of corrective lenses. At times, or when the refractive error is so severe or when the patient permits, the doctor may advise refractive surgery. 

Corrective Lenses. By wearing corrective lenses, the excessive curvature in the retina is counteracted. Corrective lenses may be in the form of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Eyeglasses are a simple, and probably the easiest way to correct most eye problems such as myopia. 

Contacts or contact lenses, on the other hand, are worn right on the eyes. There are contact lenses of different types, styles, and colors.

Refractive Surgery. To greatly improve the vision and minimize the need for using corrective lenses, a refractive surgery is sometimes advised. There are different types of refractive surgery, including:

  • LASIK (Laser-assisted in-site keratomileusis. This procedure involves creating a thin flap in the cornea and using an excimer laser to slightly flatten the cornea’s domed shape. The flap is then stitched back into its place.
  • LASEK (Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy. Unlike in LASIK, this procedure creates a flap only on the epithelium or the thin protective cover of the cornea. The surgeon uses excimer laser to flatted the cornea and the flap is repositioned afterwards. 
  • PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy). In this procedure, the epithelium is removed, instead of just creating a flap. The cornea is flatted using the excimer laser and the epithelium is allowed the grown back in a natural manner, following the new shape of your cornea. Bandage contact lenses are worn for several days to allow complete healing and prevent complications.
  • Intraocular Implant. Intraocular lenses are implanted in front of the eye’s lenses. This procedure, however, is not a very popular treatment option. 

Like most surgeries, refractive surgery has its possible complications. These include undercorrection or overcorrection, visual side effects like floaters or starbursts; dry eyes, corneal scarring, infection, and even loss of vision. Remember to discuss the benefits and possible side effects of refractive surgery with your doctor prior the procedure.

6 Prevention

Studies show that nearsightedness is not preventable but you may do these things to delay its progress:

  • Regular eye check up
  • Control certain health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Wear protective sunglasses when out in the sun
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle – eat a balanced diet, don’t smoke
  • Recognize symptoms – early detection can help you seek medical help right away

7 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with nearsightedness.

You are likely to develop nearsightedness if:

  • You have a family history. 
  • You are reading.
  • You do not spend much time outdoors.

Complications include: 

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