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Myopia (Short-sightedness; Near-sightedness)

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What is myopia?

If someone is myopic (short sighted), they will be able to see objects that are close, clearly but objects in the distance will appear blurry without the use of corrective glasses or contact lenses. It is a very common eye condition, with up to 1 in 3 people in the UK being myopic.

The severity of short sightedness in individuals varies, from mild myopia requiring no treatment to severe myopia which can significantly affect vision. Myopia typically begins between the ages of 10 and 13, but it can also be seen in younger children. It classically gets worse during the teenage years and usually stabilises when the body has finished growing in the late teens to mid-twenties.

What are myopia symptoms?

The symptoms of myopia in children can include sitting close to the TV or at the front of their school class to read the whiteboard, frequently rubbing their eyes, and complaining of tired eyes or headaches. Similarly, short sightedness symptoms in adults include difficulty reading things in the distance, such as road signs, headaches, fatigue, eye strain and squinting.

Individuals with very severe short sightedness may also be more likely to develop associated eye conditions. These can include a lazy eye or strabismus (squint) in children, as well as glaucoma, retinal detachment and cataracts in adults. In some very severe cases of myopia, a form of wet or dry macular degeneration may also form. Reassuringly, however, most people with short sightedness will never develop any associated diseases and have good vision throughout their lives.

If you notice any signs and symptoms of myopia, you should schedule an eye test with an optician. It is recommended that you have routine eye tests every two years but you can book an examination if you notice any changes in your vision. Your optician will be able to assess your eyes and conduct a short sighted test to confirm if you have the condition. They will also be able to tell you what your myopia prescription is for myopia glasses or contact lenses to correct your short-sightedness.

What causes myopia?

Short sightedness is a focusing problem of the eye. It occurs when the eye grows too long, leading to a mismatch between the focus point of the lens in the eye and the position of retina where images are focused. Light coming through the lens is not focusing properly on the retina, because it is further back due to the long eye. As the light is instead focusing in front of the retina and too far forward in the eye, this makes objects in the distance appear blurry and out of focus.

Why some people are myopic is not always clear. In some cases the condition can run in families. Myopia has also been linked to spending long periods of time focusing on close up objects during childhood. A common misconception is that age can cure short sightedness. While some people with a low-level of the condition may not require any corrective lens for myopia, their distance vision will not improve over time and can potentially deteriorate.

Myopia treatment options

There are a number of treatment options for myopia which can effectively correct the focusing problem. Prescription glasses or contact lenses are the commonest effective treatment for myopia and are widely used in the community.

Laser eye surgery for myopia can also correct the condition by altering the shape of the cornea, although you will need to ensure your prescription is stable before undergoing this procedure. Myopia laser treatment is not available on the NHS but you can discuss your requirements with our expert surgeons during your initial consultation. They will be able to advise on your most suitable laser treatment, whether it’s LASIK or LASEK. It is also possible to treat myopia with the permanent surgical implantation of a lens into the eye, a technique which is called implantable contact lenses.

Reasons to choose Moorfields Private for your myopia laser treatment

You can trust in Moorfields Private to deliver the highest quality of care when it comes to your laser or surgery treatment for myopia. We have a worldwide reputation, with our experienced surgeons working at the top of their professions and holding accredited consultant positions with the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

From your initial consultation, you will be able to choose your preferred consultant surgeon. They will oversee every aspect of your treatment to deliver a service with complete continuity. If you would like to make an appointment with one of our consultants, please call our New Patients Team on Freephone: 0800 3283 421 or Email: moorfieldsprivate.enquiries@nhs.net

Further information

To find out more about myopia and your different options for treating short sightedness, please read our recommended blog posts below:

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New Patient Team: Freephone 0800 328 3421
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Myopia (Short-sightedness; Near-sightedness) consultants

A picture of Mr Daniel Gore

Mr Daniel Gore


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Bruce Allan

Mr Bruce Allan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Vincenzo Maurino

Mr Vincenzo Maurino


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Linda Ficker

Miss Linda Ficker


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor David Gartry

Professor David Gartry


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Julian Stevens

Mr Julian Stevens


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Alexander Ionides

Mr Alexander Ionides


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Martin Watson

Mr Martin Watson


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Romesh Angunawela

Mr Romesh Angunawela


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Associate Professor Alex Day

Associate Professor Alex Day


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Mark Wilkins

Mr Mark Wilkins


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis

Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis


Consultant Ophthalmologist

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Paying for treatment

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If you are covered by private medical insurance, please verify the details with your insurer prior to arrival and if possible, obtain a pre-authorisation number.

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