What does it mean to be nearsighted?
Myopia is the medical term for what many call nearsightedness. A person with myopia, or nearsightedness, has the ability to view objects up-close, but has difficulty viewing objects in the distance. Typically, individuals who are nearsighted have difficulty seeing a TV screen clearly or reading distant highway signs, but have no issues seeing objects up close, such as reading on their mobile devices or tablets.
How common is nearsightedness?
Nearsightedness is a common vision condition that has become more widespread. According to a 2009 study conducted by the National Eye Institute, nearsightedness grew from 25 percent of the U.S. population in 1971-1972 to 41.6 percent in 1999-20041.
Nearsightedness is caused by the shape of the eye – either the eyeball is slightly too long or the cornea (the clear covering of the front of the eye) is too steeply curved. There is significant evidence that nearsightedness is inherited2. For example, if one or both parents are nearsighted, there is an increased chance that their children will develop myopia as well. However, the exact cause for this vision condition can’t be attributed to one factor.
Nearsightedness typically starts to develop in childhood and will usually stabilize in adulthood. The actual development of nearsightedness is dependent on how a person uses his or her eyes – people who spend significant time reading, viewing a computer or focusing on close-up tasks may be more likely to develop myopia. Many eye doctors believe that the significant increase in nearsighted vision is related to eye fatigue caused by computer use or spending large amounts of time focusing on close-up tasks3.
If you are able to view close-up objects clearly, but have difficulty reading road signs or seeing objects in the distance, you may be nearsighted. Other symptoms of myopia may include squinting, eye strain and headaches, or feeling fatigued while driving or playing sports4. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult an eyecare professional for a comprehensive eye exam.
Nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. Eyeglasses or contact lenses which are “minus” or concave in shape are used correct nearsightedness. Therefore, if you are nearsighted, your prescription will have a minus lens power (e.g., -2.50D). Depending on your prescription, you may only need to wear glasses for certain activities that require you to see from a long distance, such as watching a movie or driving.