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What is short-sightedness (myopia)?

Myopia means short-sightedness. If your child is myopic (short-sighted), this is usually because their eye is slightly longer than usual (from the front to the back). This means that light focuses in front of their retina at the back of their eye, rather than focusing directly on it.

Who is affected by short-sightedness (myopia)?

Around a third of people in the UK are myopic. The condition usually starts in childhood (between six and 13 years of age) and tends to get worse until the eye has stopped growing. Myopia can also develop in younger children and adults. People are more likely to become myopic if their parents are also myopic.

What are the symptoms of short-sightedness (myopia)?

If your child is myopic, they will have problems seeing things in the distance clearly without glasses or contact lenses, but will be able to see things that are close to them. There are varying degrees of myopia.

How do you treat short-sightedness (myopia)?

Myopia is usually easy to correct with glasses or contact lenses (or both). Some adults with myopia have laser surgery to correct it. There are some treatments that may slow down myopia during childhood. This is called myopia management.

How myopic may my child become?

The exact causes of myopia are not fully understood, so it is difficult to predict accurately how myopic any child may become in the future. Researchers know that the following things may make it more likely that a child will eventually become myopic:

  • having one or both parents with myopia
  • being of east-Asian ethnic origin
  • spending limited time outdoors.

Becoming myopic before nine years old may increase the risk of developing a high level of myopia. If a person has a high level of myopia, they will be at a slightly greater risk of losing their sight later in life due to conditions such as retinal detachments, glaucoma and myopic retinal degeneration.

Find out more about short-sightedness:


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