Myopia (short-sightedness)

Myopia is when people cannot see clearly in the distance without glasses or contact lenses.

What is myopia?

If someone is myopic (short sighted), they will be able to see objects that are close, clearly but objects in the distance will appear blurry without the use of corrective glasses or contact lenses. It is a very common eye condition, with up to 1 in 3 people in the UK being myopic.

The severity of short sightedness in individuals varies, from mild myopia requiring no treatment to severe myopia which can significantly affect vision. Myopia typically begins between the ages of 10 and 13, but it can also be seen in younger children. It classically gets worse during the teenage years and usually stabilises when the body has finished growing in the late teens to mid-twenties.

What are the symptoms of myopia?

The symptoms of myopia in children can include sitting close to the TV or at the front of their school class to read the whiteboard, frequently rubbing their eyes, and complaining of tired eyes or headaches. Similarly, short sightedness symptoms in adults include difficulty reading things in the distance, such as road signs, headaches, fatigue, eye strain and squinting.

Individuals with very severe short sightedness may also be more likely to develop associated eye conditions. These can include a lazy eye or strabismus (squint) in children, as well as glaucoma, retinal detachment and cataracts in adults. In some very severe cases of myopia, a form of wet or dry macular degeneration may also form. Reassuringly, however, most people with short sightedness will never develop any associated diseases and have good vision throughout their lives.

If you notice any signs and symptoms of myopia, you should schedule an eye test with an optician. It is recommended that you have routine eye tests every two years but you can book an examination if you notice any changes in your vision. Your optician will be able to assess your eyes and conduct a short sighted test to confirm if you have the condition. They will also be able to tell you what your myopia prescription is for myopia glasses or contact lenses to correct your short-sightedness

What causes myopia?

Short sightedness is a focusing problem of the eye. It occurs when the eye grows too long, leading to a mismatch between the focus point of the lens in the eye and the position of retina where images are focused. Light coming through the lens is not focusing properly on the retina, because it is further back due to the long eye. As the light is instead focusing in front of the retina and too far forward in the eye, this makes objects in the distance appear blurry and out of focus.

Why some people are myopic is not always clear. In some cases the condition can run in families. Myopia has also been linked to spending long periods of time focusing on close up objects during childhood. A common misconception is that age can cure short sightedness. While some people with a low-level of the condition may not require any corrective lens for myopia, their distance vision will not improve over time and can potentially deteriorate.

Myopia treatment is available at Moorfields Private

You can self-fund or use private medical insurance to fund your treatment.

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