Myopia – Causes, symptoms and treatment
Myopia is near sightedness (or short sightedness). Have you been having trouble seeing far away? Road signs or things in the distance seeming blurry is a sign that you have myopia. You may have no problem performing close up tasks, such as computer work, but struggle when it comes to driving or playing sports. Myopia is thought to affect a third of people in the UK.
Usually, myopia occurs as a result of the eye growing too long. A normal eye is about 23 millimetres in length, therefore a myopic eye will be longer than 23mm. A longer eye means that the light entering the eye does not hit the correct place in the retina, falling just short. This makes objects in the distance look burred.
Symptoms of myopia
As well as finding it hard to see far away, you may also experience eye strain, headaches, and having to squint. It can range from very minor (barely having an impact on daily life) to severe (where steps need to be taken to correct it).
If you suspect you may have myopia but this has not been confirmed, visit your optician.
Why is myopia so common?
While it is not entirely known what causes the eye to grow too long, researchers have been looking into a variety of possibilities. These include:
- Genetic influences. Whether parents pass the condition on to their children.
- The amount of sunlight that regularly reaches your eye.
- The body clock. The way in which the body reacts to day time and night time.
- Other environmental factors
Myopia has become more common in recent years. It is theorised that this is because of more frequent computer use, which causes eye strain. However, this has yet to be proven. Donald Mutti, from Ohio State University College of Optometry in Columbus, additionally attributes it to people spending less time outside.
Myopia in children
Myopia usually starts around puberty, although it is possible to be born with myopia. The condition steadily gets worse as the eye grows. It usually stabilises once the eye is fully grown. Opticians link myopia to spending a lot of time on close up activities like reading and computer use as a child. Children can also have myopia. Some signs that your child may have myopia could be:
- Complaints of difficulty reading the whiteboard at school
- Moving closer to the television
- Other difficulties in seeing far away
Your child should have eye tests regularly every two years, or more frequently if there are any noticeable changes in vision or eye health.
Treatments for myopia
Myopia is usually easily treated, with options such as glasses, contact lenses and laser eye surgery available. If very mild, you may only need to wear vision correction during some activities, such as driving or reading. If you have a prescription with a minus powered sphere, you are near sighted (or short sighted). The sphere value is the first number on your prescription, and the higher the value, the more severe your myopia.
More severe cases of myopia would require more frequent use of glasses or contact lenses.
Arrange an appointment with your optician to see whether you have myopia, and if so, how severe it is. If you are a Lenstore customer, you can book a free eye test here.