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Are Myopia and Short-sightedness the same?

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

When your child’s eyes are being checked by an optician you might hear the words myopia or short sightedness. But what is myopia and is it the same as being short sighted? The simple answer is yes.

In essence, being short sighted means that whilst you can focus on objects which are close to you, those further away look blurry. That happens when the development of your eye results in light being focused in front of the retina rather than on the retina.

How far you can see before objects start to lose focus will determine your level of short sightedness. For example, someone with fairly mild short sightedness may be able to read a book held 40cm away from their eyes whilst someone who has a greater degree of short sightedness needs to hold the book closer to them in order to see it clearly.

For people with short sight, corrective lens prescriptions are shown as minus figures. In the first instance above the prescription might be -2.5 whereas someone needing to hold a book just 10cm from their eyes in order to focus might require a prescription of -10. Short sightedness can generally be corrected by the wearing of glasses or contact lenses. The earlier that short sightedness is identified in children, the more can be done to slow its progression through a combination of appropriate ophthalmic prescriptions and potential lifestyle changes.

Where myopia is very high, particularly in older people who have been myopic for a long time, it can lead to a range of complications which can cause permanent damage to the eyes. Glasses may bring light into focus on the retina, but in these cases, the vision can be very bad due to the damage done to the eye. [1]

Apart from myopia, there is another term which you may hear and which might be a form of short sightedness. That is astigmatism. This occurs when part of the front surface of the eye, the cornea, is more steeply curved along one axis, and less steeply curved along the axis at 90 degrees. In other words rather than the surface of the eye being shaped like a football, it is more like part of a rugby ball or an egg. This leads to a scattering of light inside the eye. Most people have astigmatism, and it is often part of a myopic prescription, where the eye is more myopic in one meridian than the meridian at 90 degrees to it. Therefore, your spectacle prescription has a Sphere, Cylinder and Axis.

If you're a parent whose child has been diagnosed with myopia, or if they are struggling with their distance vision, we hope you found MyopiaFocus helpful. Please join our community or sign our petition to get the government and NHS to recognise myopia as an ocular disease/serious ocular condition and fund myopia management for children.

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