There are many eye conditions that can cause blurred vision – astigmatism, cataracts, glaucoma. However, one of the leading causes is myopia.
Myopia or short-sightedness affects around one third of people in the UK. Additionally, what’s even more surprising, is that 4 in 10 people in the UK are prone to ignoring serious eye conditions.
Conditions such as myopia can be detected early on with routine eye exams, which is why visiting your opticians regularly is important.
Although myopia isn’t curable, many people live a full life with the condition by making small changes to their lifestyle and professional treatment. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is myopia?
Myopia, otherwise known as shortsightedness, is a common vision condition whereby near objects appear clear but objects further away appear blurry or distorted.
For example, a person with short sight will be able to see things up close quite clearly, like when they’re reading. However, for tasks that require distance vision, like driving or watching TV, their vision will appear blurred.
Signs and symptoms of myopia
Symptoms of myopia can include:
- Blurred vision when looking at distant objects
- Frequent headaches or eyestrain when trying to focus on things far away
- The need to squint or partially close the eyelids to see clearly
Symptoms in children will be more difficult to spot, however common symptoms include:
- Persistent squinting
- Appearing unaware of distant objects
- Excessive blinking
- Rubbing their eyes frequently
- Sitting close to the television
If your child is showing signs of myopia, you can book a visit with us by using our store locator.
Additionally, read our blog on the importance of routine children’s eye exams.
Causes of myopia
Myopia occurs when the eye is effectively too long, meaning the distance between the cornea (the clear window at the front of eye) and the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) are too far apart. This is known as a refractive error.
Long term, this means that any light entering the eye is focused before it reaches the retina which in turn, causes blurred vision.
Studies show that you are far more likely to develop myopia if one of your parents has it. However, this is still far from unclear. Other risk factors for myopia include prolonged close-up activities, screen time and environmental conditions.
Other refractive errors include:
- Longsightedness (hyperopia). This occurs when your eyeball is shorter than a typical eye or your cornea is curved too little. Some people may perceive distant objects as somewhat clear, but near objects appear blurry. For some people with farsightedness, objects are blurry at all distances.
- Astigmatism. This occurs when your cornea or lens is curved more steeply in one direction than in another. Your vision will become distorted or blurry at all distances.
If you have any concerns, it’s important that you visit your optometrist to discuss any potential problems.
Is there a cure for myopia?
Although there is no cure for the condition, the good news is that myopia can be easily corrected with the correct glasses or contact lenses.
The solution could be as simple as you may need to wear your glasses or contact lenses all the time or when you need them for clear distance vision, like when you’re driving or watching a movie at the cinema.
For adults, there is the option of laser eye surgery which can correct myopia. Your optician will be able to help you choose the right option for you.
When to see professional help
It’s important that you seek emergency care with an eye care specialist if you suddenly develop any of the following:
- Sudden appearance of multiple floaters — tiny specks or lines that seem to drift through your field of vision
- Flashes of light in one or both eyes
- A grey shadow covering all or part of your field of vision
- A shadow in your outer or side vision (peripheral vision)
These are warnings signs of the retina becoming detached from the back of the eye. Unfortunately, significant nearsightedness is associated with an increased risk of retinal detachment, so it’s important to be aware of any sudden changes.
The bottom line
Both children and adults may not be aware of problems with vision or changes that happen gradually. It’s important that you make regular eye exams a part of both yours and your child’s lifestyle to eliminate any risks and detect eye conditions before they cause any damage.
To book an eye exam online at one of our branches, use our store locator.