What is myopia?

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 close 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 blackboard, text on television or road signs when driving.

Myopia is much more common in children, although some adult eyes do also develop it. The percentage of people who develop myopia is increasing sharply worldwide.

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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.

Why does it 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.