What is Shortsightedness?

A. B. Kelsey
A. B. Kelsey
Anatomy of the human eye.
Anatomy of the human eye.

Shortsightedness, or nearsightedness, is a common visual condition in which a person can see close objects clearly, but objects in the distance appear blurry. Technically known as myopia, shortsightedness is typically caused by an unusually long eyeball, which makes light rays focus too far in front of the retina, or the back of the eye, instead of directly on the surface of the retina. Because the light is focused too early, a blurred image is left on the retina.

Prescription eyeglasses can often be used to treat shortsightedness.
Prescription eyeglasses can often be used to treat shortsightedness.

Shortsightedness often develops in rapidly growing school-aged children and becomes worse during the teenage years, requiring frequent changes in prescription glasses or contact lenses to maintain clear vision. Shortsightedness usually stabilizes as the body stops growing in the early twenties. A person who has developed shortsightedness may experience blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain, or frequent squinting. Uncorrected shortsightedness may cause a person to feel fatigued after driving, watching television, or playing sports.

An optometrist's examine can determine whether a patient has shortsightedness.
An optometrist's examine can determine whether a patient has shortsightedness.

An optometrist or an ophthalmologist can confirm diagnosis of shortsightedness during a comprehensive eye examination. The treatment for this eye condition depends upon several factors, including the patient’s age, occupation, and activities. Eye doctors most commonly correct shortsightedness with corrective lenses, such as prescription glasses or contact lenses, which compensate for the elongated shape of the eye and allow light to focus properly on the retina. Depending on the degree of shortsightedness, corrective lenses may have to be worn all the time for clear vision. If the degree of impairment is slight, however, glasses or contacts may only be necessary for activities which require distant vision, such as driving, watching TV, or reading a chalkboard.

Shortsightedness causes objects in the distance to appear blurry.
Shortsightedness causes objects in the distance to appear blurry.

Recently, refractive surgery has become a popular option for reducing or eliminating the need for corrective lenses. The most common type of refractive surgery is laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK), in which the surgeon cuts a small flap in the top of the cornea, an excimer laser takes off some of the corneal tissue, and the flap is then replaced. Another form of refractive surgery is photorefractive keratectomy (PKR), in which an excimer laser removes a layer of corneal tissue to flatten the cornea. Both procedures allow light rays to focus correctly on the retina.

Laser eye surgery may be used to correct shortsightedness.
Laser eye surgery may be used to correct shortsightedness.

Eye doctors can also treat shortsightedness with orthokeratology, a non-invasive procedure which involves wearing specially-designed rigid or semi-flexible gas permeable contact lenses which slowly reshape the curvature of the cornea. The contact lenses are worn while sleeping, and when the lenses are removed in the morning, the cornea temporarily retains the new shape. This allows the patient to see clearly without any corrective lenses.

At this time, shortsightedness cannot be cured. However, a proper diagnosis, correct eye care, and consistent monitoring of the condition should help to bring things back into perspective.

Discussion Comments

anon124679

i am now 11 years old and i have myopia.

anon80304

I had a great problem at school with not being able to see the board, but thanks to my local optometrist I had my eyesight back with some glasses after just five days! I now can see everything so much better thanks a lot guys!

anon23775

what does it mean when someone says "the axis is ninety degrees?"

anon15488

I'm 11 years old. And I think I have myopia. Thanks btw. =)

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    • Anatomy of the human eye.
      Anatomy of the human eye.
    • Prescription eyeglasses can often be used to treat shortsightedness.
      By: prosotphoto
      Prescription eyeglasses can often be used to treat shortsightedness.
    • An optometrist's examine can determine whether a patient has shortsightedness.
      By: daniel rajszczak
      An optometrist's examine can determine whether a patient has shortsightedness.
    • Shortsightedness causes objects in the distance to appear blurry.
      By: Africa Studio
      Shortsightedness causes objects in the distance to appear blurry.
    • Laser eye surgery may be used to correct shortsightedness.
      By: Monkey Business
      Laser eye surgery may be used to correct shortsightedness.
    • Contact lenses can be made to correct vision problems such as myopia, or shortsightedness.
      By: vladimirfloyd
      Contact lenses can be made to correct vision problems such as myopia, or shortsightedness.