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What is short-sightedness (myopia)?

If you are short-sighted you have problems seeing things in the distance clearly, but can see things that are close. There are varying degrees of short-sightedness.

Who is affected by short-sightedness (myopia)?

Around a third of people in the UK are short-sighted. The condition usually starts during primary school years and tends to worsen until the eye has stopped growing. Myopia can also develop in very young children. Adults may also become short-sighted. You are more likely to become short sighted if your parents are also short sighted.

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

Short-sightedness is usually due to the eye being slightly too long, which means that light focuses in front of the retina at the back of your eye, rather than focussing directly on it. 

How do you treat short-sightedness (myopia)?

Myopia is usually easy to correct with glasses and contact lenses. 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 could I become?

The exact causes of myopia are not fully understood, so it is difficult to predict accurately how myopic a person 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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