Short-sightedness – myopia2020-09-16T11:19:10+00:00

Short-sightedness – Myopia

Blurry vision, especially for distant objects leading to headaches, eyestrain, and squinting

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What is short-sightedness?

Short-sightedness is a result of your eye being abnormally long

Who gets short-sightedness?

Short-sightedness is a common eye problem estimated to affect over 30% of adults and as high as 47% of young adults2


If you have short-sightedness, your glasses prescription will have a unit of sphere (often noted as S or SPH) that is typically expressed as a negative number (a “minus” sign, or -). This indicates the degree of short-sightedness you have, expressing how much you experience blurry and distorted vision. In general, the further away from zero the number on your prescription, the worse your eyesight and the more vision correction you need.


Uncorrected, your short-sightedness can be bothersome. Fortunately, glasses and contact lenses can correct short-sightedness. Unfortunately, you may dislike the way your glasses look or feel, and you may be worried about the high risk of contact lens infection after prolonged use.


In glasses, rain can be a struggle. Your glasses may fog up, get loose and fall down your nose. Needing to constantly clean them is a regular hassle. Falling asleep in them can cause them to break. Not being able to wear sunglasses can be a real bother. When it comes to contact lenses, they can cause dryness, computer vision syndrome, serious eye infections, and grittiness and irritation if you wear them for too long.


You might have heard people say you look better without glasses or even tell you that you should get contact lenses. You might feel they detract from or hide your facial features. They might make your eyes look unnaturally small.


Help is at hand! With modern laser eye surgery and lens replacement, we’ve been able to treat all sorts of eye problems, including short-sightedness, for decades. Futhermore, we have excellent results proving its safety and effectiveness.

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Vision correction enables you to experience a richer life without spectacles or contacts

Take one of the first steps and find out if you are suitable

Supplementary information about short-sightedness (myopia)

In my expert hands, you certainly don’t need to know all of the information I’ve included in the toggles below. If you’d like to know how it all works, however, open them and learn more.

Short-sightedness (or myopia) is an eye condition where the focusing power of the eye is too strong. For that reason, if you’re short-sighted, you need to wear negative power lenses to reduce the focusing power of the eye. Doing so brings the image of the world into focus on our retina.

Another way of thinking about short-sightedness is that your eye is like a camera where the focus is stuck in the zoomed in position. This condition requires you to bring objects really close to the lens for them to be in focus. Anything beyond the close-up focal point is out of focus.

Optometrists and opticians typically identify short-sightedness (myopia) is in the patient’s teenage years. The condition occurs because of a combination of genetic factors and excessive eye growth.

Experts believe that the rapidly rising rates of short-sightedness are related to extreme close up focusing (such as excessive reading and use of mobile screens) during the early teenage years. They also suspect a lack of exposure to sunlight and outdoor conditions where the eyes learn to relax and focus well in the far distance.

Short-sightedness (myopia) examination in London
Essential components of an examination include:

  • refraction (spectacle test),
  • an ocular examination and
  • a dilated fundus examination to check the health of the eye and retina.

Eye growth is a continuous process starting from birth and ceasing in most people between age 18 and 21. You can tell that eye growth is complete when there is no change in the glasses prescription over a 12 month period.

In younger patients where the eye is still growing and indeed growing excessively (this is the cause of short-sightedness), doctors have tried numerous treatments to reduce eye growth and therefore short-sightedness progression. There is indeed some evidence that the following may help:

  • Encouraging outdoor activity and UV light exposure
  • Myopia control contact lenses
  • Low dose Atropine eye drops.

This is a contentious area, and there is no definitive and clear winner regarding myopia prevention treatment.

Once the eye has finished growing, the amount of short-sightedness and indeed the glasses prescription rarely changes after that. In most patients, this occurs after age 18 to 21. It is for this reason that laser eye surgeons do not treat patients under 18 years of age and usually after 21 years of age.

You can correct short-sightedness using

  • glasses and contact lenses,
  • laser eye surgery and
  • implantable contact lenses (ICL).

In older patients, refractive lens exchange and multifocal lens implants may be the treatment of choice, especially after 55 years of age.

Laser eye surgery works by adjusting the focusing power of the cornea, reducing it so that the distance vision comes into clear focus.

The reading/close up vision remains good because patients use the eye’s natural lens to adjust the focus and focus at any distance. This process is known as accommodation.

What Is short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism?
Short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism are all types of glasses problems. These are the reasons why most people need to wear glasses.

Short-sightedness is an eye condition where the focusing power of the eye is too strong, and for that reason, we need to wear negative power lenses to reduce the focusing power of the eye and bring the image of the world to focus on our retina.

Why do we need to wear glasses or contact lenses?
The reason why people need to wear glasses or contact lenses is that there is a problem or an imbalance in the focusing power of the eye.

Patients who are short-sighted or myopic have eyes with too much focusing power. They need to wear a negative power lens in front of the eye to bring the image of the world into focus on the retina.

Patients who are long-sighted, do not have enough focusing, so to bring the world into focus on the retina, they need to wear a positive power lens in front of the eye.

Lastly, astigmatism is a condition where the eye rather than being completely circular has an oval shape to it. This condition requires an oval-shaped or what is called a toric lens to be worn in front of the eye to bring the world into focus.

Short-sightedness (myopia) symptoms and lifestyle impacts
Short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism are all types of eye focus problems. Eye doctors refer to these conditions as ‘refractive errors’.

These eye focus problems are the reasons why you need to wear glasses and contact lenses to correct the focus of the eye and allow you to see clearly.

Short-sightedness is an eye condition where the focusing power of the eye is too strong. For that reason, we need to wear negative power lenses to reduce the focusing power of the eye and bring the image of the world to focus on our retina.

Patients with short-sightedness see clearly very close up (i.e. they have excellent short sight) but have inferior distance vision. This causes problems with challenges like viewing the whiteboard in class, watching the television or driving.

Many people are happy to live with wearing the glasses or contact lenses that short-sightedness necessitates. For many, however, glasses and contact lenses do not suit their lifestyle or desire for convenience.

Take the first step

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Even more information about short-sightedness (myopia)

I frequently write articles and publish videos to answer people’s most common questions and keep them updated on the latest developments in vision correction. Find out more below…

Can I get laser eye surgery?

If you dislike your glasses and contact lenses, you might be wondering "can I get laser eye surgery?" To find out whether you may qualify for this life-changing procedure, read on.

A clear look into the types of laser eye surgery in London

All laser eye surgery has the same general idea - a surgeon uses a laser to reshape your cornea, improving your vision. There are multiple ways a surgeon can do this, though. You need to know if you’re getting the right type of surgery. Take a look at these top types of laser eye surgery in London.

Compare short-sightedness with other relevant eye conditions

Eye conditions are frequently misunderstood, so here’s a quick overview of the ones I most commonly treat


Astigmatism is an imperfection in the shape of your eye’s cornea or lens. Usually, the cornea and lens are round or spherical like a football. In eyes that have astigmatism, the cornea and or lens of the eye are oval in shape like an egg. As a result, light rays focus on a blurred oval shape on the retina rather than as a single sharp image. Learn more about astigmatism

Treatments for astigmatism


Long-sightedness is also known as Hyperopia and Hypermetropia.

Hyperopia or long-sightedness is an eye condition where the focusing power of the eye is too weak. For that reason, if you have long-sightedness, you need to wear positive power lenses to increase the focusing power of the eye and bring the image of the world into focus on our retina. Learn more about long-sightedness

Treatments for long-sightedness


The term “dry eye” covers many different eye conditions where an imbalance in the volume or quality of the tears results in inflammation and damage to the surface of the eye. Patients have varying degrees of dry eye symptoms from occasional discomfort and stinging to severe pain and inability to see. Learn more about dry eye…


Presbyopia is the eye condition which causes people aged 45 and older to need reading glasses. The ageing of the eye’s natural lens which stiffens and loses its ability to focus causes presbyopia.

Treatments for presbyopia


Cataract is the term we use to describe the changes that occur when the lens of the eye loses its transparency and changes from appearing like a crystal clear window to appearing like a misted window like frosted glass. Learn more about cataract

Treatments for cataract


Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea, the front window of the eye, becomes thinner, loses its strength and begins to warp out of shape progressively. Learn more about keratoconus

Treatments for keratoconus


Recurrent corneal erosion is a painful eye condition where there are episodes of severe pain on waking which resolve over a few days to a week only to reoccur again in the future. Learn more about recurrent corneal erosion

Treatments for recurrent corneal erosion

  • Laser Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

About the author

Mr Alex J. Shortt | Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MB BCh MSc PhD FRCOphth PGDipCatRef

I’m Alex Shortt, a highly trained academic researcher and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon based in London’s famous Harley Street medical district. I trained and worked as a consultant for 14 years at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. I specialise in advanced technologies for correcting vision, including cataract surgery, implantable contact lenses and laser vision correction.

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