Nearsightedness (myopia) is a common vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry. It occurs when the shape of your eye causes light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly, focusing images in front of your retina instead of on your retina.
Nearsightedness may develop gradually or rapidly, often worsening during childhood and adolescence. Nearsightedness tends to run in families.A basic eye exam can confirm nearsightedness. You can compensate for the blur with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
Nearsightedness symptoms may include:
Blurry vision when looking at distant objects
The need to squint or partially close the eyelids to see clearly
Headaches caused by eyestrain
Difficulty seeing while driving a vehicle, especially at night (night myopia)
Nearsightedness is often first detected during childhood and is commonly diagnosed between the early school years through the teens. A child with nearsightedness may:
Need to sit closer to the television, movie screen or the front of the classroom
Seem to be unaware of distant objects
Rub his or her eyes frequently
When to see a doctor
If your difficulty clearly seeing things that are far away (distance blur) is pronounced enough that you can’t perform a task as well as you wish, or if the quality of your vision detracts from your enjoyment of activities, see an eye doctor. He or she can determine the degree of your nearsightedness and advise you of your options to correct your vision.
Seek emergency medical care if you experience:
The sudden appearance of many floaters — tiny specks that seem to drift through your field of vision
Flashes of light in one or both eyes
A curtain-like shadow over your visual field
These are warnings signs of retinal detachment, which is a rare complication of myopia. Retinal detachment is a medical emergency, and time is critical.
Regular eye exams
Since it may not always be readily apparent that you’re having trouble with your vision, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following intervals for regular eye exams:
If you’re at high risk of certain eye diseases, such as glaucoma, get a dilated eye exam every one to two years, starting at age 40.If you don’t wear glasses or contacts, have no symptoms of eye trouble, and are at a low risk of developing eye diseases, such as glaucoma, get an eye exam at the following intervals:
Every five to 10 years in your 20s and 30s
Every two to four years from 40 to 54
Every one to three years from 55 to 64
Every one to two years after age 65
If you wear glasses or contacts or you have a health condition that affects your eyes, such as diabetes, you’ll likely need to have your eyes checked regularly. Ask your eye doctor how frequently you need to schedule your appointments. But, if you notice any problems with your vision, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible, even if you’ve recently had an eye exam. Blurred vision, for example, may suggest you need a prescription change, or it could be a sign of another problem.
Children and adolescents
Children need to be screened for eye disease and have their vision tested by a pediatrician, an ophthalmologist, an optometrist or another trained screener at the following ages and intervals.
Age 6 months
Age 3 years
Before first grade and every two years during school years, at well-child visits, or through school or public screenings