Myopia: Know symptoms, causes and ways to deal with nearsightedness

Myopia treatment

Do you have difficulty reading street signs unless you are very close to them? Or do you find the screen at the cinema blurry, especially if you are sitting far away from the screen? If yes, it could be because you have myopia. Nearsightedness or myopia is a condition that makes objects that are far away look blurry. It occurs when the eyeball is too long or the cornea is too curved, causing light to focus in front of the retina. Those who have this condition may suffer from symptoms such as eyestrain, headaches, and may have to squint to see distant objects. While it can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery, it can lead to vision loss if left untreated. Know all about this condition, its symptoms, causes, and how to deal with it.

What is myopia?

Nearsightedness, medically known as myopia, is a refractive error of the eye where distant objects appear blurry while close objects can be seen clearly. This occurs when the eyeball is too long relative to the focusing power of the cornea and lens, or when the cornea and lens have too much focusing power for the length of the eyeball. As a result, light rays entering the eye focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it, causing distant objects to appear blurred.

What are the symptoms of myopia?

Myopia symptoms include difficulty seeing distant objects clearly, such as road signs or classroom boards. People with this condition may be able to see close objects clearly. People often experience eyestrain, squinting, and headaches due to the constant effort to focus. Additionally, they may have trouble seeing in dim light and frequently need to move closer to objects to see them clearly. These symptoms can impact daily activities, making tasks like driving or watching movies challenging without corrective lenses.

Myopia can be managed. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

When should you see a doctor?

You should see a doctor for myopia if you experience:

  • Persistent blurred distance vision
  • Frequent headache
  • Eyestrain
  • Difficulty seeing while driving
  • Blurry vision in dim light

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What are the causes of myopia?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, can have several causes, including:

1. Genetics

Myopia often runs in families. If one or both parents are nearsighted, there is an increased likelihood that their children will develop it as well.

2. Eyeball shape

The shape of the eye can also contribute to myopia. In individuals with myopia, the eyeball tends to be longer than normal, causing light rays to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it.

3. Environmental factors

Prolonged near work, such as reading, using computers, or doing other close-up tasks, may contribute to myopia development, especially in children. Lack of outdoor activities and exposure to natural light are also linked to an increased risk of myopia.

4. Changes in corneal curvature

Myopia can also be caused by changes in the curvature of the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. If the cornea is too steeply curved or the lens is too thick, it can cause light rays to bend too much and focus in front of the retina.

5. Health conditions

Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can influence the development of myopia. Additionally, conditions like cataracts can alter the eye’s focusing ability, contributing to nearsightedness.

Chronic health conditions such as diabetes increase the risk of myopia. Image courtesy: Freepik

Who is at risk of developing myopia?

Individuals at risk of developing myopia include:

  • Children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 12 years old.
  • People with a family history of nearsightedness.
  • People who spend most time in front of screens or reading.
  • Limited time spent outdoors and reduced exposure to natural light.
  • People with chronic health conditions such as diabetes.

Regular eye exams are crucial for early detection and management.

Tips to deal with myopia

Here are some tips to deal with myopia and promote eye health:

1. Follow a balanced diet

Follow a balanced diet packed with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to support overall eye health. Include foods high in nutrients such as vitamin A (such as carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes) and vitamin C (such as oranges, strawberries, and bell peppers), which are beneficial for eye health.

2. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is not only essential for maintaining proper hydration. But staying hydrated and avoiding dehydration is also crucial for overall health, including eye health.

3. Eye exercises

Practice eye exercises regularly to strengthen eye muscles and improve focus. Simple exercises such as palming, focusing on distant objects, and eye rotations can help relax and strengthen the eyes.

4. Reduce screen time

Spending long hours in front of screens may strain your eyes initially and ultimately end up with symptoms such as dry, itchy eyes and redness in the eyes. This habit can also result in myopia. So, try to spend more time playing physical games or walking and socialising to keep your eyes healthy.

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Avoid using a phone every time! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5. Size of screen

People feel more comfortable watching television, which has big screens but they ultimately impact your eyesight. So try to opt for televisions with a small screen size and limit your screen time to reduce the risk of straining your eyes.

6. Protect your eyes from the sun

UV radiation from the sun can damage the eyes and exacerbate myopia symptoms. Wearing sunglasses with UV protection and wide-brimmed hats can shield your eyes from harmful rays. Protecting your eyes from UV exposure helps maintain overall eye health and reduces the risk of related complications.

7. Quit smoking

Smoking adversely affects eye health, increasing the risk of myopia progression and other eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Quitting smoking can improve overall eye health by enhancing blood circulation and reducing oxidative stress.

Also read: Is myopia curable or reversible?

8. Corrective lenses

Wearing the correct prescription glasses or contact lenses is essential for managing myopia. Make sure you go for regular eye exams to ensure your prescription is up-to-date.

9. Go for regular check-up

Regular eye examinations are crucial for early detection and management of myopia. Children should have their first eye exam at six months, another at age three, and then before starting school. After that, annual exams are recommended. For adults, especially those with a family history of myopia or existing vision issues, regular check-ups are vital. These exams help monitor changes in vision and update prescriptions as needed.

Keep these tips in mind in order to improve your vision and reduce the risk of any eye condition, including myopia!

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