Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics

Possible Symptoms for Nearsightedness

  • Blurred vision when looking at objects in the distance[1]
  • Squinting when looking at objects in the distance
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches

Top 3 Nearsightedness Causes

1. Long Eyeball

An eyeball that is too long will prevent incoming light from focusing directly on the retina. Instead, light rays will focus in front of the retina, which causes blurred vision and nearsightedness when looking at things that are far away.[2] Having a long eyeball may be caused by genetics, environmental factors, or certain lifestyle behaviors.

2. Abnormal Eye Shape

Nearsightedness may be caused by having an abnormally shaped cornea or lens.[2] The cornea may be too curved for the length of the eyeball, or the lens may be too thick. Both of these factors can contribute to blurred vision and nearsightedness.[3]

3. Genetics

There are at least 24 genetic risk factors for nearsightedness.[3] Some of these genes affect the development of the eyes, along with metabolism and nerve cell function. Those who carry a large number of these genes are up to 10 times more likely to have the condition.[3] Additionally, a family history of nearsightedness can also cause you to be more likely to have this eye condition.[1]

3 Ways to Prevent Nearsightedness

1. Spend Time Outdoors

People who spend time outdoors are shown to be less likely to develop nearsightedness.[3] Exposure to natural sunlight stimulates the body’s production of vitamin D and may contribute to healthy eye development. Additionally, being outdoors often requires people to spend more time looking at objects in the distance, which may also help with normal eye development.[3]

2. Look at Distant Objects

Looking at objects in the distance on a regular basis can train the eye muscles and eyes to see things that are far away. Nearsightedness has been linked to spending an excessive amount of time doing “near-work” tasks, such as reading books, writing, and working on computers. Those who spend too much time doing near work without taking breaks to look at objects in the distance may be at higher risk for developing nearsightedness.[3]

3. Use Dilating Eye Drops

Using eye drops that dilate the eyes—specifically atropine—may slow or halt the progression of nearsightedness in children.[1] Atropine has been shown to be effective at preventing the eyeball from becoming too long when used in children whose eyes are still developing.[4] Ask your doctor about dilating eye drops that may help prevent nearsightedness.

Possible Nearsightedness Treatment Options

1. Eyeglasses

Prescription eyeglasses may treat nearsightedness by shifting the focus of a light image directly onto the retina, instead of in front of it.[1] Eyeglasses can often help people with nearsightedness see distant objects more clearly. An eye doctor or optometrist can perform an eye exam to determine the right prescription for your eyeglasses.

2. Contact Lenses

Contact lenses work exactly like eyeglasses to treat nearsightedness by shifting the focus of a light image directly onto the retina instead of in front of it.[1] Contact lenses can be prescribed to you by an eye doctor or optometrist.

3. Refractive Surgery

Refractive surgeries such as LASIK and PRK may help treat nearsightedness after the optic error of the eye becomes stabilized, which usually happens by a person’s early 20s.[3] Both of these surgeries change the shape of the cornea to resolve or improve nearsightedness. LASIK involves the cutting and folding of a thin layer of the cornea to allow for the reshaping of the inner cornea. PRK works similarly to LASIK to treat nearsightedness, but involves the removal of a layer of tissue from the cornea instead of cutting and folding a thin layer to make a flap.[3]

4. Dilating Eye Drops

Evidence suggests that dilating eye drops such as atropine may help prevent or treat nearsightedness in young children.[4] Parents of children who may be at risk for nearsightedness due to genetics or family history can ask their children’s doctors about the possibility of undergoing treatment using atropine or other types of dilating eye drops.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Nearsightedness Treatment

  • How long have you been experiencing nearsightedness?
  • What other symptoms are you experiencing?
  • Do you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses?
  • How often do you receive an eye examination?
  • When was your last eye exam?
  • Have you had refractive surgery?
  • Do certain behaviors relieve your symptoms or improve your vision?
  • Does anyone in your family have nearsightedness?
  • How much time do you normally spend outdoors?
  • Do you spend lots of time doing close-up work such as reading and writing?

Nearsightedness May Also Be Known as:

  • Myopia
  • Shortsightedness
  • High myopia[3]
  • Pathological myopia
  • Blurred vision


  1. Medline Plus. Nearsightedness.
  2. National Eye Institute. Nearsightedness.
  3. National Eye Institute. Facts About Myopia.
  4. National Library of Medicine. Atropine for the treatment of childhood myopia: changes after stopping atropine 0.01%, 0.1% and 0.5%.

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