Myopia (commonly called short-sightedness) is an eye problem that
around one-third of Australians are affected by. Short-sightedness
causes you to only be able to see objects clearly at short distances,
and distant objects become hard to see.
To have clear vision,
light must be properly focused (or refracted) by the cornea and lens
onto your retina (Figure 1). If your eye is not ideal, in terms of
length or shape, then light can be focused too early (myopia), leaving
you with an image on your retina that is blurry. (Figure 2).
exact cause of myopia is still uncertain. However, myopia has been
strongly linked to improper reading habits, e.g. working at close
distances for long periods of time and/or working at close distances in
poor lighting conditions. Myopia has also been linked to genetics - it
has been proven that the risk of a child developing myopia increases
significantly if one or both parents are myopic.
The most common
symptoms of myopia are problems with seeing the board at school, as
myopia is often discovered in school children. Children often find
themselves having to squint to see more clearly in the distance. This
causes eyestrain and can also lead to headaches.
requires an ophthalmologist or optometrist to firstly diagnose you with
myopia. Once a diagnosis has been given, myopia is often treated with
glasses or contact lenses as these allow light to be properly focused on
to your retina (Figure 3). Proper focusing can also be obtained using
contact lenses (Figures 4 and 5). Laser surgery can also be used to
treat myopia, in which case glasses and contact lenses are not needed.
Another less common treatment option includes orthokeratology, which
involves wearing retainer contact lenses that slowly reshape the cornea
to correct the myopia over a period of time.