Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a common vision problem wherein objects at a certain distance look blurry even though closer objects appear in focus. Generally, this condition is caused by one’s eyeball stretching too long from front to back, or by the cornea being more curved than normal. Myopia affects around 30% of the U.S. population, and can usually be detected even in young children. Once an eye doctor has made a diagnosis, some myopia treatment options that he or she might suggest are eyeglasses or contact lenses, orthokeratology, laser surgery, or implantable lenses.
Eyeglasses are frequently prescribed as a myopia treatment. They can be a preferable option for many people, since patients of all ages can usually wear them. Some people are advised by their eye doctors to wear their glasses all the time, while others might need them only for certain activities, such as watching television or reading a chalkboard at school. Glasses generally require minimal care, such as periodically cleaning them and storing them in a protective case when not being worn.
Contact lenses perform the same function as glasses, except that they are worn directly on the eyes. Many people prefer contacts instead of glasses because they feel that they provide superior vision correction. They come in permanent as well as disposable forms, and some of them can be worn overnight. Contacts usually need to be cleaned and replaced more often than glasses, but the trade-off can be more flexibility and convenience for the wearer.
Orthokeratology, or corneal refractive therapy, is a non-surgical myopia treatment option. It utilizes special contact lenses that do not correct vision according to a certain prescription. Rather, the lens actually pressures and reshapes the cornea while being worn. Then the person’s cornea briefly retains that shape once the lens is removed, typically allowing him or her to see more clearly.
Many people prefer not to wear either glasses or contact lenses. Other myopia treatment options that can be considered include various types of eye surgery that reshape the cornea using a laser beam. The two most common methods are LASIK surgery and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). Though they are slightly different procedures, both types of surgery involve the removal of some corneal tissue. The success rate of these types of surgery usually depends on how much of the cornea can be removed.
Implantable lenses, developed more recently than some other surgical procedures, are another alternative for people with myopia. The lenses are similar to regular contact lenses, yet they usually require little or no maintenance once they are permanently implanted in the eyes.
Not all types of myopia treatment are appropriate for all patients. For example, some people might have to meet specific criteria to be eligible for certain surgical procedures. By consulting a professional optometrist or ophthalmologist for advice, one can then decide on the best individual treatment plan.