What is myopia?

myopia or myopia It is the most common cause of blurred vision when looking at objects at a distance. People with this condition must squint or strain to see objects that are not nearby. This is most noticeable for children in a classroom where it may be difficult to read the blackboard. At home, a nearsighted child may insist on sitting near the television or holding books very close to 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, the light entering the lens of the eye does not reach the retina at the back of the eyeball, but is instead focused just in front of it. The result is blurred vision.

Myopia is not considered a disease, but is caused by a natural change in the shape of the eye. If one or both parents have the problem, it is more likely that their children will too. Some evidence suggests that the condition could also be caused by doing too much close work for an extended period of time. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat this vision problem.

Glasses can correct myopia, and advances in lens material have made glasses more comfortable than ever. There was a time when severe cases required thick lenses that distorted the face, making the eyes appear unnaturally small, but this is no longer true. Today's special lenses can be so thin and light that they are barely noticeable, while correcting almost any degree of nearsightedness.

For those who don't like to wear glasses, contact lenses are another option to correct 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 fitting something into the eye or have abnormally dry eyes that limit the type of lenses that can be worn.

If glasses and contact lenses are not desirable, implanted lenses or laser surgery are two more options to correct nearsightedness. These options are more expensive than contact lenses or glasses.

Although 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 posterior part of the eyeball continues to grow after adulthood. Cataracts can also cause blurred vision.

However, in most cases, people with nearsightedness can easily get relief from the condition through one or more of these treatments. If the onset occurs in childhood, the person's vision usually worsens in early adulthood, then stabilizes. Nearsightedness does not usually improve on its own, although it may improve somewhat as patients approach middle age or older age.

This article contains general information but should not be used in place of a medical diagnosis or construed as medical advice. People who have problems with their vision should see a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist.

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