What is Myopia?

On this page we explain the nature of the condition

Myopia, or short-sightedness, is a condition that results in difficulty with seeing distant objects clearly. It is usually caused by the eye being slightly too long.

A person with myopia can see objects that are nearby clearly e.g., when reading a book or looking at a phone, but words and objects that are far away will look blurry or fuzzy e.g. writing on a whiteboard, text on television or road signs when driving.

Myopia develops much more commonly in children, although it can develop in adults sometimes. The percentage of people who develop myopia is increasing sharply worldwide.

Myopia can co-exist with astigmatism and presbyopia. Low levels of myopia would be classified as under -2.00 dioptres and high myopia is considered to be above -6.00 dioptres.

How common is myopia?

How many people have myopia?

Research has shown that the prevalence of myopia in the western world has increased from 20% to 40% in the past 25 years. In many Asian countries the prevalence is as high as 90% and it is estimated that half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.

Myopia is one of the conditions identified by the WHO (World Health Organisation) as a potential cause of blindness, and already affects over a billion people around the world and this number is rapidly increasing.

How can I correct my myopia?

There are a number of methods available to correct myopia and which allow clearer vision.

  • Spectacles
  • Contact Lenses – Day or Night Lenses
  • Myopia Management – most appropriate for children and adolescents who have progressive myopia
    •  Spectacles
    • Contact Lenses – Day or Night Lenses
  • Refractive Surgery (“laser” treatment) – only suitable for adults who have stable myopia

Why does myopia occur?

Myopia is usually caused by the eye being slightly too long. In younger children, myopia progresses more quickly because their eyes are growing at a faster rate, leading to higher levels of myopia, stronger glasses and increased risks of poor eye health.

Adult-onset myopia usually occurs as an adaptation to fatigued eye focusing muscles due to a significant increase in close work, such as studying, reading or using digital devices.

What are the risks of myopia?

Risk of progression

Myopia in kids tends to progress or get worse throughout childhood, and higher levels of myopia are associated with higher levels of eye disease in adulthood. This is due to the eye becoming more elongated as it becomes more myopic. Just like a balloon becomes more translucent as you blow it up and the membrane is stretched, the eye’s membrane becomes thinner and more stretched as it becomes more myopic.