Common expressions for having Myopia are being “nearsighted” if you are an American or “short-sighted” if you are British. Australians seem to wander between the two.
The lens of the eye helps focus the outside world on to an image on the retina at the rear of the eye, and if the lens focuses to a point before the surface of the retina, a blurred image is all that is seen if an object is far away, but distinctly if close up. One important consideration is that eyes can be healthy even though myopic.
Up to a third of people struggle with myopia, and one of the first instances of them becoming aware of this is when other people with them in a car can read approaching road signs well before them.
Objects and especially books that need close scrutiny are no problem to someone with myopia. If you have myopia the chances are you got it from one or both of your parents.
Myopia affects children in early school years up to teenage years, and an indication of its occurrence can be a child squinting to change blurred distant objects into clear ones.
It used to be said “Children with myopia can’t see the blackboard but can read a book” – now the modern version of that phrase is “Children with myopia can’t see an image from a data projector but can certainly see a laptop screen”.
Nearsightedness gets progressively more serious as a child grows, with new prescriptions for eyewear being required regularly until at the age of twenty or so some stability is attained.
Treatment in the case of children or young adults is to ascertain by means of a thorough eye examination that it is only myopia that’s present – then it’s a case of thinking about glasses or “specs”.
Contact lenses may be a considered option, but usually an optometrist will wait until the patient is older and lens prescriptions have stabilised, unless of course a sportsman or sportswoman is being treated, when contact lenses can be THE preferred option.
Younger sportspeople will happily wear glasses during normal activities and change to contact lenses only when playing sport – this has the advantage of reducing the possibility of adverse reactions and obviates the need to be disciplined in the hygiene required, especially when first starting out.
Laser surgery, whilst very effective and safe, is not contemplated by many people initially and they prefer to adopt a wait and see approach, also giving them more time to think about the cost.
Early Detection Essential
It’s important that myopia in a child is detected early as otherwise education is the big loser, along with self esteem. The modern looks of eyewear and their relatively low cost means that children no longer have to suffer the stigma that seemed to exist years ago with wearing glasses at school.
What About Prevention?
Myopia can’t be prevented, even by reducing the amount of television or computer time spent by children. Treatments by way of glasses or contact lenses only assist in aiding the wearer to deal with “being short-sighted”.