St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Nearsightedness

    Myopia; Shortsightedness; Refractive error - nearsightedness

    Nearsightedness is when light entering the eye is focused incorrectly, making distant objects appear blurred. Nearsightedness is a type of refractive error of the eye.

    If you are nearsighted, you have trouble seeing things that are far away.

    Causes

    People are able to see because the front part of the eye bends (refracts) light and points it to the back surface of the eye, called the retina.

    Nearsightedness occurs when the physical length of the eye is greater than the optical length.

    This makes it more difficult for the eyes to focus light directly on the retina. If the light rays are not clearly focused on the retina, the images you see may be blurry.

    Nearsightedness affects males and females equally. People who have a family history of nearsightedness are more likely to develop it. Most eyes with nearsightedness are healthy, but a small number of people with severe myopia develop a form of retinal degeneration.

    Symptoms

    A nearsighted person sees close up objects clearly, but objects in the distance are blurred. Squinting will tend to make far away objects seem clearer.

    Nearsightedness is often first noticed in school-aged children or teenagers. Children often cannot read the blackboard, but they can easily read a book.

    Nearsightedness gets worse during the growth years. People who are nearsighted need to change glasses or contact lenses often. It usually stops progressing as a person stops growing in his or her early twenties.

    Other symptoms may include:

    • Eyestrain
    • Headaches (uncommon)

    Exams and Tests

    A nearsighted person can easily read the Jaeger eye chart (the chart for near reading), but has trouble reading the Snellen eye chart (the chart for distance).

    A general eye examination, or standard ophthalmic exam may include:

    • Eye pressure measurement (See: Tonometry)
    • Refraction test, to determine the correct prescription for glasses
    • Retinal examination
    • Slit-lamp exam of the structures at the front of the eyes
    • Test of color vision, to look for possible color blindness
    • Tests of the muscles that move the eyes
    • Visual acuity, both at a distance (Snellen), and close up (Jaeger)

    Treatment

    Wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses can help shift the focus of the light image directly onto the retina, producing a clearer image.

    The most common surgery to correct myopia is LASIK. An excimer laser is used to reshape (flatten) the cornea, shifting the focus.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Early diagnosis of nearsightedness is important, because a child can suffer socially and educationally by not being able to see well at a distance.

    Possible Complications

    • Complications can occur in people who use contact lenses (corneal ulcers and infections)
    • Complications of laser vision correction are uncommon, but can be serious
    • People with myopia can, in rare cases, develop retinal detachments or retinal degeneration

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call for an appointment with yourhealth care providerif your child shows these signs, which may indicate a vision problem:

    • Having difficulty reading the blackboard in school or signs on a wall
    • Holding books very close when reading
    • Sitting close to the television

    Call for an appointment with youreye doctorif you or your child is nearsighted and experiences signs of a possible retinal tear or detachment, including:

    • Flashing lights
    • Floating spots
    • Sudden loss of any part of the field of vision

    Prevention

    There is no way to prevent nearsightedness. Reading and watching television do not cause nearsightedness. In the past, dilating eye drops were proposed as a treatment to slow the development of nearsightedness in children, but they have never been proven effective.

    The use of glasses or contact lenses does not affect the normal progression of myopia -- they simply focus the light so the nearsighted person can see distant objects clearly. Hard contact lenses will sometimes hide the progression of nearsightedness, but vision will still get worse "under" the contact lens.

    References

    Zadnik K, Mutti DO. Biology of the eye as an optical system. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology On DVD-ROM. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012: chap 34.

    Whitmore WG, Curtin BJ. The optics of myopia. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology On DVD-ROM. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012: chap 42.

    Olitsky SE, Hug D, Plummer L, Stass-Isern M. Abnormalities of refraction and accommodation. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 612.

    Garg S, McColgin AZ, Steinert RF. LASIK. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology On DVD-ROM. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012: chap 49.

    White PF, Scott CA. Contact lenses. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 2.9.

    BACK TO TOP

    • Visual acuity test

      illustration

    • Normal, nearsightedness,...

      illustration

    • Lasik eye surgery - seri...

      Presentation

      • Visual acuity test

        illustration

      • Normal, nearsightedness,...

        illustration

      • Lasik eye surgery - seri...

        Presentation

      Talking to your MD

        Tests for Nearsightedness

          Review Date: 9/3/2012

          Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
          adam.com

          A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


          Back  |  Top
          About Us
          Contact Us
          History
          Mission
          Locations & Directions
          Quality Reports
          Annual Reports
          Honors & Awards
          Community Health Needs
          Assessment

          Newsroom
          Services
          Brain & Spine
          Cancer
          Heart
          Maternity
          Orthopedics
          Pulmonary
          Sleep Medicine
          Urgent Care
          Women's Services
          All Services
          Patients & Visitors
          Locations & Directions
          Find a Physician
          Tour St. Luke's
          Patient & Visitor Information
          Contact Us
          Payment Options
          Financial Assistance
          Send a Card
          Mammogram Appointments
          Health Tools
          My Personal Health
          mystlukes
          Spirit of Women
          Health Information & Tools
          Clinical Trials
          Health Risk Assessments
          Employer Programs -
          Passport to Wellness

          Classes & Events
          Classes & Events
          Spirit of Women
          Donate & Volunteer
          Giving Opportunities
          Volunteer
          Physicians & Employees
          For Physicians
          Remote Access
          Medical Residency Information
          Pharmacy Residency Information
          Physician CPOE Training
          Careers
          Careers
          St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
          Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile