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Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Medically reviewed by: John W. Erickson, OD

What Is Nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness (myopia) is a vision problem that makes it hard to see distant objects clearly.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Nearsightedness?

Kids with nearsightedness may:

  • have blurred vision when looking at things that are not close to them
  • hold books, toys, or other objects closer to their face than usual
  • squint their eyes or blink a lot
  • have trouble reading words on a chalkboard at school

What Causes Nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness happens when light that enters the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of directly on it. This creates blurry vision in the distance.

It happens more often in school-age kids, especially preteens and teens. Nearsightedness can run in families.

How Is Nearsightedness Diagnosed?

A pediatric eye doctor can tell if your child is nearsighted. They will do an exam that includes:

  • asking about symptoms
  • measuring your child’s vision
  • dilating the eyes with drops, which helps the doctor find the right glasses prescription
  • assessing the health of the eyes

How Is Nearsightedness Treated?

The eye doctor will prescribe glasses or contact lenses to help your child see clearly.

How Can Parents Help?

To help take care of your child’s eyes:

  • Get eyeglasses (or contact lenses if recommended). Let your child help choose the frames. Plastic frames and polycarbonate lenses are best for young kids.
  • Help with contact lenses. If your child is old enough and the eye doctor thinks contacts are a good choice, help your child follow all instructions on wearing and cleaning them.
  • Go to follow-up visits with the eye doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor about myopia control. New treatment options can help slow the progression of myopia in children.
  • Call the doctor if your child has new symptoms, including:
    • headaches or eye pain
    • blurry vision when wearing glasses or contacts
    • seeing flashing lights or floating spots
    • any loss of vision
  • If your child wears contacts, call the doctor for symptoms such as:
    • eye pain or redness
    • high sensitivity to light
    • itchy or dry eyes that don’t get better with eye drops
Medically reviewed by: John W. Erickson, OD
Date reviewed: May 2023