Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The goal of treating nearsightedness is to improve vision by helping focus light on your retina through the use of corrective lenses or refractive surgery.

Corrective lenses

Wearing corrective lenses treats nearsightedness by counteracting the increased curvature of your cornea or the increased length of your eye. Types of corrective lenses include:

  • Eyeglasses. This is a simple, safe way to correct vision problems caused by myopia. The variety of eyeglasses is wide and includes bifocals, trifocals and reading lenses.
  • Contact lenses. These lenses are worn right on your eyes. They are available in a variety of types and styles, including hard, soft, extended wear, disposable, rigid gas permeable and bifocal. Ask your eye doctor about the pros and cons of contact lenses and what might be best for you.

Refractive surgery

Refractive surgery improves vision and reduces the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. Your eye surgeon uses a laser beam to reshape the cornea. This type of surgery has become routine, but it's usually not recommended until the eyes have fully developed, in the 20s.

Refractive surgical procedures for nearsightedness include:

  • Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK). With this procedure, your eye surgeon makes a thin, hinged flap in your cornea. He or she then uses an excimer laser to remove layers from the center of your cornea to flatten its domed shape.

    An excimer laser differs from other lasers in that it doesn't produce heat. After the excimer laser is used, the thin corneal flap is repositioned.

  • Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK). Instead of creating a flap in the cornea, the surgeon creates a flap only in the cornea's thin protective cover (epithelium). He or she then uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea's outer layers and flatten its curvature and then repositions the epithelial flap. You may need to wear a bandage contact lens for several days afterward to encourage healing.
  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). This procedure is similar to LASEK, except the surgeon removes the epithelium. It will grow back naturally, conforming to your cornea's new shape. You may need to wear a bandage contact lens for a few days afterward.
  • Intraocular lens (IOL) implant. These lenses are surgically implanted into the eye, in front of the eye's natural lens. They may be an option for people with moderate to severe myopia. IOL implants are not currently considered a mainstream treatment option.

Some of the possible complications that can occur after refractive surgery include:

  • Undercorrection or overcorrection of your initial problem
  • Visual side effects, such as a halo or starburst appearing around lights
  • Dry eye
  • Infection
  • Corneal scarring
  • Rarely, vision loss

Discuss the potential risks and benefits of these procedures with your eye doctor.

Mar. 04, 2015

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