Shortsightedness (myopia)

    • Brief

    • Shortsightedness (myopia) is a vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry. It happens when your eyeball is too long or the cornea (the protective outer layer of your eye) is too curved. The light that enters your eye won’t focus correctly.

      Shortsightedness runs in families and mostly starts in childhood. Your eyes usually stop changing after your teenage years, but not always. It’s a common condition that an eye doctor or optometrist usually can fix with glasses, contact lenses or eye surgery.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • Mainly, you can see things close to you (e.g. the letters in a book) clearly, but distant objects (e.g. like traffic signs, school blackboard) may appear blurry.

      You may also experience:

      • Headaches.
      • Squinting.
      • Eye strain.
      • Eye fatigue when you try to see objects that are farther away.
      • Children with shortsightedness often want to sit close to the television screen or blackboard at school.
      • Children with shortsightedness may often rub their eyes to wipe them clear.
    • What are the causes?

    • This may be caused by your eyeball growing too long, which leads to light being focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than on it.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

      • Having large or irregularly formed eyeballs.
      • Having family members who are also shortsighted.

    • When to visit a doctor?

    • If you notice changes in your (or your child's) vision, get your eyes checked by an optometrist or eye specialist. Signs of reduced vision are:

      • Your short-sightedness impacts daily activities (e.g. watching TV, reading traffic signs).
      • Your child needs to sit near the front of the class in school because they cannot see the blackboard from the back of the class.
      • You (or your child) have constant headaches from eyestrain.

      You should also visit your healthcare provider:

      • If you have 'high myopia'. This is a more serious, less common form of shortsightedness, where the eyeball grows more than it is supposed to and becomes very long front to back. Besides making it hard to see things at a distance, it can also raises your chance of having other conditions like a detached retina, cataracts and glaucoma.
      • If you have 'degenerative myopia'. This is a rare type of shortsightedness that you usually inherit from your parents. Your eyeball gets longer very quickly and causes severe myopia, usually by teenage or early adult years. This type of myopia can get worse far into adulthood. Besides making it hard to see things at a distance, you may have a higher chance of having a detached retina, abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye (choroid neovascularization) and glaucoma.
    • How to prevent?

    • You cannot prevent shortsightedness, but early detection can slow down the problem or quickly resolve injuries. Spending time outside and using a prescription eye drop (atropine) can help slow down or stop the condition's progression. Other methods like surgery and specialist procedures like orthokeratology and dual focus lenses are not widely available in Nigeria.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • An eye exam by an optometrist or eye specialist can show if you’re shortsighted. Prescription glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery can usually correct the problem. When you have myopia, your prescription for glasses or contact lenses will be a negative number. The more negative the number, the stronger your lenses will be. For example, -3.00 is stronger than -2.50.

      Self Care Tips:

      • Contact lenses are often preferred to glasses by some people. However, in dry and/or dusty environments they may irritate your eyes. Always take proper care of the lenses and do not use them for very long periods without removing and cleaning them.
      • Wear sunglasses or a face cap on very sunny days or if you spend a lot of time in the sun. These can protect your eyes from the long-term damage that UV rays may cause over time.
      • Diet may not change the eye's form, but eating foods beneficial to the eye will maintain eye health. These include carrots, nuts, fish and eggs. These foods contain high amounts of vitamin A and beta carotene, which are very good for vision health.
      • Use over-the-counter pain relievers for headaches caused by shortsightedness. If they persist, see your healthcare provider.
    • Kulawa cares

    • Shortsightedness can be a worrying symptom, but existing treatment options can significantly improve your eyesight. Experts recommend going for eye tests once every 2 years to identify early changes in your eyesight. Using glasses or contact lenses will immediately help you resolve problems with your eyesight. If there are complications that do not go away, such as headaches, see your healthcare provider.