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Myopia – Causes, symptoms and treatment

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If you’re having trouble seeing things that are far away, such as a road sign whilst driving, then you could be myopic. This condition is thought to affect a third of the UK population and simply put means short-sightedness.

So, what is it?

Myopia is usually caused when the eye has grown longer than average (23mm). Due to this increase in length, incoming light falls short and doesn’t reach the correct places on the retina, causing objects in the distance to appear blurred.

You may have no issues performing close-up tasks like reading a book, but it’s likely you’ll struggle when it comes to viewing things that aren’t within reach.

If your prescription shows that you have a minus powered sphere (usually the first number on your prescription) it means you’re short-sighted. The higher the number, the more severe your myopia is.

What are the symptoms of myopia?

Man covering his eyes

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Aside from struggling with long distance vision, myopia can also cause eye strain, headaches and the excessive need to squint so that your eyes can focus.

Myopia can start to develop from the age of six and can become progressively worse during your teenage years. If you notice your child regularly rubbing their eyes, needing to sit closer to the TV or complaining of tired eyes, it’s probably time for an eye test.

Is it treatable?

Thankfully, myopia can easily be treated with glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery.

If it’s determined that you only have a mild case of myopia, then you’ll probably only need to wear vision correction when carrying out certain activities, like playing golf for example.

Why is it so common?

Child playing video arcade game

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While it’s not known what causes the eye to grow too long, researchers have been looking into why myopia is on the rise. They’ve found that factors such as genetics, our body clock, and the environment might all play a part.

Donald Mutti from the Ohio State University College of Optometry in Columbus conducted a study into the ‘myopia boom’. He observed more than 500 eight and nine-year old’s who started out with healthy vision. After five years, Donald and his colleagues found that one in five children who developed myopia had spent less time outdoors than those who did not. This was backed up by a further study of over 4,000 school children in Sydney, Australia.

In today’s world, we spend a lot of time reading eBooks, working in front of computer screens and networking via smartphones. Using electronic devices close to our eyes is believed to contribute to the development of myopia, and so it’s advised that you spend some time away from reading, writing or looking at your screen often. Time for a digital detox!

If you think that you or your child may be short-sighted, book an appointment with your Optician. A simple eye test will be able to diagnose myopia and you’ll be back to enjoying the benefits of clear vision in no time!