What is myopia?

Myopia is what most people call shortsightedness. Shortsighted people do not see distant objects clearly. The eye’s lens and cornea normally focus light into an image on the retina. In a myopic eye, the light is focused in front of the retina and so the image is blurred.

Does a shortsighted person see close objects more clearly than a person with normal vision?

No. Shortsighted people see close objects the same as normal sighted people – except in very high myopia when they have to hold objects very close to see them.

How can I tell if I am shortsighted?

Shortsighted people have difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly. They find it hard to read road signs and scoreboards, and to play small ball games. Recognising people in the distance is often a problem for many shortsighted people. Often a person will not realise that they cannot see clearly until they have an eye examination by an optometrist, and their problem is revealed.

How can I tell if my child is shortsighted?

A complete eye test is the only sure way of determining whether your child’s vision is normal. Some clues to myopia in a child are:

  • screwing up eyes to see distant objects
  • moves closer to read or watch something
  • difficulty reading the whiteboard at school
  • poor posture while reading
  • lack of interest in playing outdoor games.

What causes myopia?

No-one knows for sure. At various times people have blamed excessive amounts of reading, poor metabolism, poor diet, poor light, poor posture and genetic factors. Other people say it’s a combination of all these things.

Can myopia be cured?

No, but properly prescribed spectacles or contact lenses will enable the person to see clearly.

Can myopia be prevented?

There is no certain prevention for myopia. However, in some cases, treatment can be prescribed to stop or slow its progression.

How common is myopia?

It is a very common condition. About 15 per cent of the population are shortsighted. Usually myopia begins in during puberty or early teens and it often gets worse with age.