Understanding the Myopia Epidemic


Although myopia is common, many people don’t fully understand it. Myopia is characterized by close objects appearing clear and in focus, while distant objects appear fuzzy or blurry. It occurs when the eyeball has grown too long, or if the curve of the cornea is too steep. Myopia typically develops in childhood, usually between the ages of eight and 12 years old.  Adults also can develop myopia, usually from visual stress or specific health conditions.  Often, nearsightedness is treated first with eyeglasses, with some patients later transitioning to contacts lenses for their vision correction.  And, when people reach ocular maturity, vision correction procedures such as LASIK also are an option for those who are good candidates.

While the exact cause of nearsightedness if unknown, many doctors and researchers point to genetics, eye strain from looking at the small screens on smartphones and other computer devices too much, or even a lack of natural light and sunshine.

How Myopia is Measured

During your eye exam, the power of your eye is measured in diopters (D), which are the same units used to measure the optical power of eyeglasses and contact lenses.  Prescriptions use a minus (–) sign to show the amount of myopia present in your vision and are categorized as either mild, moderate or high myopia:

  • Mild myopia: -0.25 to -3.00 D (You can read the eye chart but miss the small letter lines)
  • Moderate myopia: -3.25 to -6.00 D (You can only see the large letter lines on the eye chart)
  • High myopia: greater than -6.00 D (You cannot read the eye chart, include the large letter E)

Mild myopia usually does not increase a person’s risk for additional eye health problems, but moderate and high myopia can be associated with more serious, vision-threatening side effects like retinal detachment, cataracts, and glaucoma.

With today’s demands on the eyes, it’s important to have an annual eye exam, even if you have 20/20 vision. A comprehensive exam with your eye doctor is an important step toward diagnosing and monitoring eye disorders such as myopia.

If you are concerned about your nearsightedness, contact our office to schedule a consultation to discuss the vision correction options that are best for you and your lifestyle needs.

Recent Articles