So, what exactly does it mean to be nearsighted, and do I need to worry about it?
Nearsightedness is a very common condition. In fact, about 42 percent of Americans between the ages of 12 and 54 suffer from myopia, according to the National Eye Institute.
Dr. Chad Carlsson, founder of Carlsson Family Eye Center, says that nearsightedness has become a worldwide epidemic thanks to smartphones, tablets and other screens being part of our lives for at least six hours of every day. As a result, our eyes are adapting to this predominance of “nearwork.”
“What our eyes don’t understand is that we need to see in the distance, too, but as a result of all the nearwork and genetics playing a factor too, more and more people are being diagnosed with nearsightedness,” Dr. Carlsson explains. “Therefore, we need to prescribe lenses that not only allow one to see far away for, say, driving, but to also prescribe a lens with an anti-fatigue option to try and help slow down or stop the progression of nearsightedness. These types of lenses have a power boost at the bottom of the lens in order to relax one’s near vision demands so that you don’t strain the visual system.”
How does someone become nearsighted? Is it genetic?
There are genetic risk factors. If your parents are nearsighted, you could be, too, but genetics is just part of the big picture.
Researchers have learned that nearsightedness is more prevalent in people who spend a greater amount of time doing nearwork.
How do I know if I’m nearsighted?
Nearsightedness is diagnosed when an eye doctor observes that light entering the eye refracts too quickly before focusing on the back of the eye. This refraction is what creates a blurry image in the distance.
See an eye doctor for an official diagnosis if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Difficulty seeing faraway objects
- Squinting (often involuntary)
Your eye doctor will perform a procedure called retinoscopy to see how the light moves in your eye, and will prescribe lenses to neutralize the movement.
Even if you aren’t having any signs or symptoms of nearsightedness, you should have an eye exam annually as part of protecting your eye health and to prevent eye disease from occurring. This is especially important for school-aged children, whose eyes can change dramatically from year to year.
“The younger you are when diagnosed with nearsightedness (5 years old give or take 3 years), the more likely your nearsightedness will worsen and your prescription will get stronger and stronger,” Dr. Carlsson says. “This can eventually lead to other complications involving various diseases of the eye that can ensue as a result of nearsightedness worsening. The reason is the eye continues to lengthen and stretch as nearsightedness worsens, which like anything else, once it’s stretched too much, it becomes compromised and breaks. When it comes to the eye, diseases of the eye such as retinal detachments. macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts can result from the eye stretching too much.”
Can nearsightedness be treated?
Absolutely. Most people with myopia wear glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision. An eye doctor will provide a prescription for corrective eyewear. “Minus” or concave lenses (which are thinner in the optical center, and thicker outward to the edge of the lens) are used to correct nearsightedness.
Ortho-K, a system that gently reshapes the cornea (the front surface of your eye) as you sleep, is a popular treatment we offer here at Carlsson Family Eye Center. Wearing the specially designed gas permeable lenses at night can stop the progression of nearsightedness.
Refractive surgery is another option that changes the shape of the cornea and eliminates the need to wear eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Your eye doctor has the right skills and training, and can work with you to determine the best treatment option for you.
Are you having trouble with your vision, or do you wonder if you might be nearsighted? Schedule an appointment today to come see us at Carlsson Family Eye Center.