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Myopia (short-sightedness)


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).

The 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.


Treatment 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.