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The Basics of Nearsightedness

Nearsightedness is a common vision problem.


Updated June 09, 2014

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is an eye problem that causes objects at a distance to be blurry. A nearsighted person can clearly see objects that are close to them, but has a hard time focusing on objects that are far away.

Signs and Symptoms

Someone with nearsightedness may squint noticeably when trying to view distant objects. They may also sit very close to the television or bring books very close to their eyes when reading. Sometimes nearsightedness causes people to be totally unaware of far away objects.


Nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball is slightly longer than normal, or when the cornea is steeper than average. These conditions cause light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on its surface. In most cases, nearsightedness is inherited. However, there is some evidence that suggest that intense close-up activities, such as reading for prolonged periods of time at close range or playing video games for many hours, in early adulthood can induce nearsightedness.


Nearsightedness is usually detected during childhood, between the ages of 10 and 20. It is often discovered when a child complains of not being able to the chalkboard. The condition often continues to get worse, but stabilizes in the mid to late-twenties. Nearsightedness is diagnosed by a comprehensive eye examination completed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. A refraction test will be performed during the examination confirming the diagnosis of myopia.


Depending on the degree of nearsightedness, some people may only need glasses for driving or watching a movie. Others with a high degree of nearsightedness may only have clear vision a few inches from their nose. Nearsightedness can be treated with glasses, contact lenses or with laser procedures, such as LASIK. In some cases, myopia may also be treated with a corneal-reshaping procedure, although results are usually temporary in nature.

Nearsightedness may simply reduce your quality of life or cause eyestrain. In some cases, it may raise safety issues in the work place and also increase your risk of certain eye diseases, such as glaucoma or retinal detachment.

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