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What Is Myopia?

What do trouble reading street signs and a drop in your child’s academic performance have in common?

Both could be due to myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness.

Around 30% of Americans have myopia, a refractive error that reduces your distance vision. It’s the most common eye disorder and is expected to become even more prevalent. Some estimates predict around 50% of the population to have myopia by 2050. 

But what exactly is myopia? What causes it, and how is it treated? Our ophthalmologists here at Retina Specialists provide comprehensive dilated eye exams to diagnose refractive errors like myopia and other eye diseases. Our team shares the facts about myopia. 

About myopia

As mentioned, myopia is a refractive error. Refraction occurs when light bends as it moves through a transparent material, such as a window or the cornea and lens of your eye. Myopia occurs when the dome of your cornea is too steep, and as light passes through it, it doesn’t reach the correct spot on your retina for crisp 20/20 vision.

Instead, objects in the distance, like street signs, blackboards — or smart boards if your child’s class has fancy technology — look blurry. Nearsightedness ranges in severity, and some people have high (severe) myopia. 

Myopia usually begins to develop in school-age children and often becomes progressively worse until you reach your 20s. Some of the early warning signs of myopia include squinting, eye strain, and headaches. Children might start to have trouble at school because they can’t see the front of the class clearly.

It’s critical to have annual eye exams if you’re nearsighted. Annual exams ensure that your corrective lens prescription is up to date and give us a chance to check for signs of eye disease. Myopia, especially high myopia, increases your risk of eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.

Myopia causes

Refractive errors like myopia are usually genetic. If your parents are myopic, the chances are that you will also be nearsighted, and so will your children. 

While screen time doesn’t necessarily cause myopia, spending too much time focusing on objects close to you can cause an overuse condition that affects your eyes’ ability to switch between near and distance vision, making distant objects look blurry. 

Treating myopia

Fortunately, we offer plenty of treatments to correct myopia. The simplest options are glasses or contact lenses. Corrective lenses adjust the refraction of light as it enters your eye to correct for the abnormal shape of your cornea. 

Depending on the severity of your nearsightedness, you could consider orthokeratology, also called Ortho-K. Ortho-K treatment involves special contact lenses that you wear overnight to reshape your cornea. Your cornea holds its shape throughout the day, so you don’t need to wear glasses or contact lenses. 

You could also consider corrective eye surgery. Advances in technology have made LASIK an option for a much wider range of refractive errors. However, if you have high myopia, thin corneas, or another issue that excludes you from LASIK, other surgical options are available, including PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and phakic intraocular lens implants.

If you’re due for an eye exam or have any signs of nearsightedness, call one of our offices today. We’re located in DeSoto, Plano, Mesquite, Dallas, and Waxahachie, Texas. Our friendly office staff will be happy to set up an appointment for you with one of our expert ophthalmologists.

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