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Introduction to myopia
People who have myopia or nearsightedness have difficulty seeing distant objects, but can see objects that are near clearly. For example, a person who is nearsighted may not be able to make out highway signs until they are just a few feet away.
What Causes Myopia?
People who are nearsighted have what is called a refractive error. This means that the light rays bend incorrectly into the eye to transmit images to the brain. In people with myopia, the eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, so the light entering the eye is not focused correctly. Light rays of images focus in front of the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye, rather than directly on the retina, causing blurred vision.
Myopia runs in families and usually appears in childhood. Sometimes the condition plateaus, or sometimes it worsens with age.
What Are the Symptoms of Myopia?
How Is Myopia Diagnosed?
Myopia can be easily diagnosed using standard eye exams given by an eye doctor.
How Is Myopia Treated?
Glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery can correct myopia.
With myopia, your prescription for glasses or contact lens is a negative number, such as -3.00. The higher the number, the stronger your lenses will be.
Refractive surgery can reduce or even eliminate your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The most common procedures for myopia are performed with a laser, including:
- Photorefractive keratectomy. Also called PRK , a laser is used to remove a layer of corneal tissue, which flattens the cornea and allows light rays to focus closer to or even on the retina.
- Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. Commonly called LASIK , a laser is used to cut a flap through the top of the cornea, a laser removes some corneal tissue, then the flap is dropped back into place. LASIK is the most common surgery used to correct nearsightedness.
- Corneal rings. Plastic corneal rings, called Intacs, are implanted into the eye to alter the shape of the cornea. One advantage of the rings is that they may be left in place permanently, may be removed in case of a problem, or adjusted should a prescription change be necessary.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute.
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, WebMD, October 2004.
Top Myopia Related Articles
CataractsA cataract is an eye disease that causes the eye's lens to become cloudy and opaque with decreased vision. Causes of cataracts include diabetes, hypothyroidism, certain genetic illnesses, hyperparathyroidism, atopic dermatitis, and certain medications. Symptoms and signs include a decrease in vision and a whitish color to the affected eye. Treatment depends upon the patient's specific visual needs and may involve cataract surgery.
Eye CareMany common eye disorders resolve without treatment and some may be managed with over-the-counter (OTC) products. It's important to visit a physician or ophthalmologist is the problem involves the eyeball itself or the condition hasn't improved after 72 hours of use of an eye-care OTC product.
Eye Diseases SlideshowEye diseases can cause damage and blindness if not detected and treated soon enough. Learn the warning signs and symptoms of common eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, pink eye, macular degeneration and more.
Eyewear SlideshowLearn about your eye care needs and fashion wishes -- with eye glasses, frames and eyewear for computer use, reading, driving, sports and more.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)Consuming alcohol during pregnancy may cause fetal alcohol syndrome, a group of conditions associated with mental, growth, and physical problems. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome may have a small head, short stature, low IQ, and abnormal facial features. Early intervention programs can lessen the impact of motor, cognitive, and language impairments.
GlaucomaGlaucoma is a common eye condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eye rises because of slowed fluid drainage from the eye. If untreated, glaucoma may damage the optic nerve and other parts of the eye, causing the loss of vision or even blindness.
Keratoplasty Eye Surgery (ALK)Keratoplasty eye surgery is used to correct nearsightedness and mild farsightedness. The procedure involves making incisions in the cornea and underlying tissue to correct vision. Potential side effects include infection, corneal scarring, glare, and the inability to wear contacts.
Laser Eye SurgeryHow does LASIK work? Get information on this popular laser eye surgery, the procedure, success rates, and possible vision side effects.
LASIK Eye SurgeryLASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery is a procedure in which a laser is used beneath the corneal flap to reshape the cornea. This process is used to:
- treat refractive errors,
- improve vision,
- and eliminate or reduce the need for contact lenses or glasses.
- conventional LASIK,
- wavefront-optimized LASIK,
- and wavefront-guided LASIK.
Nearsightedness PictureNearsightedness affects 20%-30% of the population, but this eye disorder is easily corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. See a picture of Nearsightedness and learn more about the health topic.
Phakic Intraocular LensesPhakic intraocular lenses are devices that are permanently implanted to into the eye to reduce a person's need for glasses or contact lenses. The lenses are surgically implanted in front of or behind the iris. Phakic lenses help correct nearsightedness. Risks of the procedure include vision loss, increased intraocular pressure, and the development of cataracts or retinal detachment.
Photorefractive KeratectomyPRK is a type of laser eye surgery that is used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The procedure involves using a laser to reshape the cornea. Potential side effects include seeing a mirror glare, seeing mild halos, and loss of best vision achieved with glasses.
Retinal DetachmentRetinal detachment is the separation of the retina from its attachments to the underlying eye tissue. Symptoms of retinal detachment include flashing lights and floaters. Highly nearsighted young adults and those who've had cataract surgery are at higher risk for retinal detachment.
TonometryTonometry is a method for measuring the pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure or IOP), which is useful in detecting glaucoma. IOP can be determined with the help of a tonometer, a device which lightly touches the surface of the (anesthetized) eye and measures the eye's resistance to indentation.