Myopia, or 'nearsightedness' or 'shortsightedness', as most of us refer to it, is an eye condition in which you can view objects up close clearly, but things farther away may appear blurry.
This condition is fairly common and many people who have it don't detect it immediately, as all objects in view aren't blurry. Reading a book or a menu may appear fine. But the sign in the distance...? It may lack visual clarity.
Causes of nearsightedness
Myopia is usually tied to genetics.
If you are nearsighted, pay particular attention to early signs of progressive myopia in your children. Having their eyes tested regularly is important, as common nearsightedness usually appears early in life. Many children with myopia develop it at a young age, with it worsening each year until they reach their early twenties. There are other reasons for nearsightedness development. Remember how your parents told you to never sit too close to the TV? Looking at computer screens for long hours or reading in low light-anything that strains your eyes-could play a factor.
Nobody knows the exact causes of myopia at this time, but we have uncovered a great deal of information about it.
The problem of myopia occurs when light entering our eyes focuses in front of the retina instead of on it, as it should if the eye is functioning normally. (When light focuses behind the retina, you experience farsightedness.)
So now that we know more about the possible causes of myopia, what can we do about it?
Treatment for myopia
As you may have guessed, glasses for nearsightedness is one way to correct your blurry vision at a distance. If you're over age 40, you may need multifocal lenses so that you can see both distant and close objects clearly, such as the morning newspaper.
Contact lenses for nearsightedness are the corrective choice for many. There are lens options to correct both nearsighted and farsighted vision. If you maintain an active lifestyle, such as participating in sport, or you simply prefer contact lenses over glasses, talk to your optician about your contact lens options. Corrective surgery for myopia may also be an option. With LASIK surgery for nearsightedness, a laser reshapes your cornea so that light entering your eyes focuses as it should. Not everyone automatically qualifies for this option. It depends upon your eyes.
Myopia in children
As we've discussed, nearsightedness is often hereditary. If you have children, and you've been diagnosed with myopia, you may have passed it onto your children. It's not your fault, of course, but you should make sure you watch for the signs (headaches, moving closer to objects to read them, fatigue from eyestrain, etc.). As always, be sure to visit your optician and schedule appointments at set intervals. If your child has myopia, it won't just go away. Oftentimes, it grows worse until he or she grows out of the teen years.
For the younger set, there has been some discussion about whether spending more time outdoors-away from TV sets and videogames-may help reduce nearsightedness in children. Visiting a park and playing outside can be a great way to bond and maybe help your children' eyes, too. If you or your child's vision appears blurry, call your optometrist. If you don't have one, ask your family or friends for a trusted recommendation. There's no need to go through another blurry day!