Diagnosis and Treatment for Nearsightedness
Myopia is the clinical term for nearsightedness, a refractive error affecting your ability to see objects at a distance. Nearly four out of every 10 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mild to moderate myopia requiring them to wear glasses or contacts to improve their vision. Myopia typically emerges during early childhood. Adults rarely develop myopia unless trauma or disease affects the visual components of the eye. Your optometrist treats nearsightedness by prescribing lenses that improve refraction of incoming light so that light focuses squarely on the retina.
What Causes Myopia?
If your eyeballs are longer than normal, light fails to reach the retina, falling in front of the retina instead of directly on it. Scientists have recently discovered two dozen genetic risk factors involved in the development of abnormally long eyeballs. In addition, a rise in the number of older children and pre-adolescents being nearsighted suggests that spending too much time on digital devices such as cellphones and iPads may trigger myopia genes that otherwise would not have influenced how eyeballs grow in length.
High (Severe) Myopia
Corrective lenses needing a -6.0 diopters+ prescription for treatment of nearsightedness are worn by people with high myopia. In addition to an elongated eyeball, those with high myopia often have retinas susceptible to retinal detachment, a condition requiring prompt attention by your optometrist. If you are diagnosed with high myopia, you should have annual eye exams and tests specifically for detection of glaucoma or cataracts, two eye disorders often affecting severely nearsighted individuals.
How Your Eye Doctor Diagnoses Nearsightedness
Eye doctors detect signs of myopia using Snellen alphabet eye charts, retinoscopy, and phoropters. Performing a retinoscopy allows your optometrist to view the retina through a microscope while a phoropter device offers a series of different corrective lenses you look through at an eye chart. By informing an eye doctor which lenses improve or worsen your vision, they can accurately determine your diopter number for prescription purposes.
Treatment for Nearsightedness
Standard treatment for all degrees of myopia is corrective lenses (eyeglasses or contact lenses). Nearsighted children who do not wear corrective lenses may experience worsening of myopia accompanied by astigmatism as they mature into adults.
For people who do not want to wear eyeglasses or contacts, refractive surgery offers relief of myopia symptoms that reduce or eliminate the need to wear corrective lenses. Two refractive surgeries–LASIK and PRK–involve slight modifications of the cornea using laser technology to restore normal focusing of light onto retinas. We can give you a preliminary exam to see if you’re a good candidate for Lasik and refer you to an experienced surgeon.
Schedule an Appointment with Our Optometry Team
To schedule an eye exam or to learn more about refractive surgery for nearsightedness, call Best Eyecare Associates today at (303) 254-4888.