What is nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness, or myopia, as it is medically termed, is a vision condition in which near objects are seen clearly, but distant objects do not come into proper focus.

Why does nearsightedness occur?

When your eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, light entering the eye is not focused properly.

Some evidence supports the theory that nearsightedness is hereditary. There is some evidence that nearsightedness may also be caused by the stress of too much close vision work. 

How common is nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness is a very common vision condition that affects nearly 30 percent of the Canadian population. It normally occurs in school age children.

However, we are seeing an onset earlier and earlier and in more people. Cases of myopia have doubled over the past twenty years.


Since the eyes continue to grow during childhood, nearsightedness usually occurs before the individual reaches the age of 20. 

Will I have to wear glasses?

You may need glasses part-time or full-time to enable you to see more clearly. You may only need them for certain activities, like watching television, going to a movie or driving a car.

If your condition warrants, your Doctor of Optometry will prescribe corrective lenses for you.

Will glasses/contact lenses cure nearsightedness?

Glasses or contact lenses are an optical way to correct the way light enters your eyes, but they don't cure nearsightedness. There is currently no proven treatment that cures myopia.

Wearing glasses can be suppressed, for moderate or low myopia, by laser surgery or by fitting lenses inside the eye. These procedures, however, do not change the nature of the myopic eye or prevent the progression of myopia. This is why they are not recommended until vision is stable, usually after 23-24 years of age.

A technique without surgery also exists: it is orthokeratology which uses semi-rigid lenses, worn at night, in order to mold the cornea and eliminate myopia.

How is nearsightedness diagnosed?

Nearsighted people will often have trouble seeing the chalkboard, the movie screen, the television set or other distant objects. When your optometrist gives you a comprehensive eye examination, it will include a test for nearsightedness

How will nearsightedness affect my lifestyle?

If glasses or contact lenses are prescribed, it may take up to 2 weeks to adjust to seeing clearly with them.

Some nearsighted people may find that they are restricted from some occupations e.g. police officer or fire fighter, due to their nearsightedness.

In these cases, laser surgery may be useful for some people. Contact lenses are very helpful for correcting nearsightedness and are ideal for people with more active lifestyles.