Myopia, shortsightedness or nearsightedness is a vision condition whereby one can see close objects clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred. Nearsightedness occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye, has too much curvature. Light entering the eye isn’t focused correctly on the retina, but in front of the retina and distant objects look blurred. Nearsightedness is a type of refractive error of the eye, not a disease. The opposite defect of myopia is hyperopia or "farsightedness" or "longsightedness" — this is where the cornea is too flat or the eye is too short.

Myopia is a very common vision condition. Although some research supports the theory that nearsightedness is hereditary, there is growing evidence that it is influenced by the visual stress of too much close work.

Myopia is often discovered first in school-age children who report having trouble seeing the chalkboard. Because the eye continues to grow during childhood, myopia typically progresses until about age 20. However, nearsightedness also occurs in adults due to visual stress or health conditions such as diabetes.

Symptoms of myopia

A common sign of myopia is difficulty with seeing objects far away clearly. Next to blurry vision, people suffering from myopia are often seen squinting their eyes to see clearly.

What causes myopia

Although it is not proven that myopia is heredited, if one or both parents are nearsighted, there is an increased chance their children will be nearsighted.

The actual development however may be affected by how a person uses his or her eyes. People who spend considerable time doing intense close visual work like reading, working at a computer, are more likely to develop myopia.

False or "pseudo" myopia may occur when doing an excessive amount of near vision work. This blurred distance vision is caused by over use of the eyes’ focusing mechanism. After long periods of near work, the eyes become 'locked' - being unable to refocus to see clearly in the distance. Usually this is only temporary and after resting the eyes clear distance vision usually returns. However, over time constant visual stress by doing lots of close work often leads to a permanent reduction in distance vision: myopia.

Some people may experience blurred distance vision only at night. "Night myopia” may be due to low levels of light making it difficult for the eyes to focus properly or an increased pupil size during dark conditions, allowing more peripheral, unfocused light rays to enter the eye.

Variations in blood sugar levels in people with diabetes can cause symptoms of nearsightedness and can indicate a developing cataract.

Myopia diagnosis

Testing for nearsightedness includes measuring how the eyes focus light determining the power of any optical lenses needed to correct the reduced vision.

An eye exam consists of using a phoropter and retinoscope to determine the lenses that allow the clearest vision. The patient has to identify letters on an eyechart (Snellen chart) which then measures visual acuity written as a fraction such as 20/40. The top number indicates the standard distance in feet at which testing is performed (20 feet). The bottom number indicates the smallest letters that the patient can read. A person with 20/40 visual acuity can identify letters at a distance of 20 feet where a person with a “normal” eye could read the letters at a distance of 40 feet. Normal, clear sight is 20/20, although many people have 20/15 (better) vision.

Using an instrument called a phoropter, the optometrist places a series of lenses in front of your eyes and measures how they focus light using a hand held lighted instrument called a retinoscope. Nowadays many optometrists use an automated instrument, which automatically determines the focussing power of the eye. The power is then refined by patient’s responses to determine the lenses that allow the clearest vision.

Testing is moslty done without the use of eye drops to determine how the eyes respond under normal seeing conditions. In some cases however, eye drops are used. This can include situations where a patient can’t respond verbally, or when some of the eye’s focusing power may be hidden. Eyedrops prevent the eyes from changing focus while testing is performed.

Myopia is determined using the results from this test along with results from other tests. At the same time the optometrist will also determine the power of any lens correction needed to provide clear vision. Once testing is complete, your optometrist can discuss options for treatment.


Myopia treatment
Persons with nearsightedness have several options available to regain clear distance vision. They include:
• eyeglasses
• contact lenses
• orthokeratology
• laser and other refractive surgery procedures
• natural vision therapy - www.eyerobics.com.au

Most people with myopia choose for eyeglasses or contact lenses.  Generally, a single vision lens is prescribed to provide clear vision at all distances. Bifocal or progressive addition lenses are also used for patients over about age 40 or children and adults whose myopia is due to the stress of near vision work. These multifocal lenses provide different powers or strengths throughout the lens to allow for clear vision in the distance and also clear vision up close. 

Although eyeglasses or contacts are frequently used to correct myopia they do not address the problem but only the symptoms. Wearing glasses makes your eyes lazy as the lenses do all the focusing your eye muscles normally do. This results in weaker eye muscles. As it is these muscles that cause clear sight it is very likely your eyesight will worsen over time. Ever noticed many people need to go back to the optometrist to get stronger prescriptions after they start wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Natural Vision Improvement techniques have been reported to be effective by people suffering from myopia.
These techniques are based on the so-called Bates Method, developed by an eye surgeon in the 1920's. He discovered that helping people to relax their eyes and strengthen the eye muscles they were able to improve their eyesight dramatically.

Though general practitioners claim this method can not be effective, testimonials from people who have tried these techniques prove otherwise. There is also related scientific evidence:

- Optometrist Dr Robert-Michael Kaplan co-investigated a study demonstrating improvements of visual acuity as a result of relaxation, stating "…myopic persons could be trained to produce relaxation, which results in sharper visual acuities…"

"Subjects often stated that they had experienced the ability to make eye contact (without correction) with people across a room or street; they could see buildings and windows clearly without glasses many miles across San Francisco Bay, or in the case of high diopter myopes (> -4.0 diopters) they were able to read books easily at arms length." - Balliet, PHD, et al. The training of visual acuity in myopia. Journal of the American Optometric Association.



"Thousands of young men applying for admission to the various branches of the armed forces discovered that they could not meet the visual requirements. As a result of visual training, most successfully passed the visual requirements of the service that had previously rejected them. The evidence is conclusive that optometric methods of visual training improve the acuity of most myopes." - Ewalt, The Baltimore Myopia Control Project. Journal of the American Optometric Association.

Natural Vision Improvement using eye exercises is a proven method to address myopia. It is simple and can save spending hundreds of dollars on contacts, eye glasses or risky surgery. Find out more at www.eyerobics.com.au

Author's Bio: 

Taree Vriesman is a trained Natural Vision Improvement therapist and has worked for 10 years with people teaching them to heal their eyes. He strongly believes that people who suffer from most common eye disorders can heal their eyes by corrective exercises which reduce stress and invigorates the eyes.