Nearsightedness is diagnosed by an eye exam. A complete eye exam involves a series of tests. Your eye doctor may use various instruments, aim bright lights directly at your eyes and ask you to look through several lenses. Your doctor uses these tests to examine different aspects of your eyes and vision and to determine the prescription needed to provide clear vision with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
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.
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 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
- Corneal scarring
- Rarely, vision loss
Discuss the potential risks and benefits of these procedures with your eye doctor.
Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You can't prevent nearsightedness. Some studies suggest you may be able to slow its progression. You can help protect your eyes and your vision by following these tips:
- Have your eyes checked. Do this regularly even if you see well.
- Control chronic health conditions. Certain conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can affect your vision if you don't receive proper treatment.
- Protect your eyes from the sun. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
- Prevent eye injuries. Wear protective eyewear when doing certain things, such as playing sports, mowing the lawn, painting or using other products with toxic fumes.
- Eat healthy foods. Try to eat plenty of fruits, leafy greens and other vegetables. And studies show that your eyes benefit if you also include in your diet fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna and salmon.
- Don't smoke. Just as smoking isn't good for the rest of your body, smoking can adversely affect your eye health as well.
- Use the right corrective lenses. The right lenses optimize your vision. Having regular exams will ensure that your prescription is correct.
- Reduce eyestrain. Look away from your computer or near-task work, including reading, every few minutes.
- Recognize symptoms. You may have a serious medical problem if you have a sudden loss of vision in one eye, experience sudden hazy or blurred vision, or see flashes of light, black spots, or halos around lights. These may indicate certain conditions, such as glaucoma, stroke, or a retinal tear or detachment. See your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Preparing for your appointment
You may encounter three kinds of specialists as you seek help for various eye conditions:
- Ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist with a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) degree who provides full eye care. This care includes performing complete eye evaluations, prescribing corrective lenses, diagnosing and treating common and complex eye disorders, and performing eye surgery when it's necessary.
- Optometrist. An optometrist has a doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Optometrists are trained to evaluate vision, prescribe corrective lenses and diagnose common eye conditions.
- Optician. An optician is a specialist who helps fit people for eyeglasses or contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists. Some states require opticians to be licensed. Opticians are not trained to diagnose or treat eye disease.
No matter which type of eye specialist you choose, here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
- If you already wear glasses, bring them with you to your appointment. Your doctor has a device that helps to determine what type of prescription you already have. If you wear contacts, bring to your appointment an empty contact lens box from each type of contact you use.
- List any symptoms you're experiencing, such as trouble reading up close or difficulty with night driving.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- List questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your visit. For nearsightedness, some basic questions to ask include:
- When do I need to use corrective lenses?
- What are benefits and drawbacks to glasses?
- What are benefits and drawbacks to contacts?
- How often do you recommend that I have my eyes examined?
- Are more permanent treatments, such as eye surgery, an option for me?
- If so, which do you recommend?
- What types of side effects are possible from these treatments?
- Will my insurance company pay for surgical procedures or a contact lens fitting?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Does your vision improve if you squint or move objects closer (or farther) away?
- Do others in your family use glasses or contacts? Do you know how old they were when they first began having trouble with their vision?
- When did you first begin wearing glasses or contacts?
- Do you have any medical problems, such as diabetes?
- Have you started to take any new medications, supplements or herbal preparations?