What is myopia?

Myopia is another word for short-sightedness. People who are myopic struggle to see things at distance. With high myopia you may only be able to see clearly a few centimetres in front of you. This can be remedied with glasses, and many myopes also like contact lenses.

It affects 1 in 3 people in the UK. Myopia is more than twice as prevalent among UK children now compared to in the 1960’s. Myopia is most likely to occur between 6 and 13 years of age

Find out more about short-sightedness here.

What is low, moderate and high myopia?

Your spectacle prescription is the numbers that describe the power of spectacle lenses that will give you the best vision. After the optometrist has completed the eye examination they will write your prescription for you.

Optometrists measure the focusing power of your eye using dioptres. This is a technical term for how strong a lens would have to be to give you focused vision. The higher the numbers the stronger your lens will be.

Low myopia usually describes myopia of −3.00 diopters or less.

Moderate myopia usually describes myopia between −3.00 and −6.00 diopters.

High myopia usually describes myopia of −6.00 or more.

Find out more here.

Why does myopia get worse?

Myopia is children often get worse as they grow. It usually stops getting worse at around the age of 20.

Research has shown that spending more time outside reduces a child chance of developing myopia.

How is myopia treated?

People who are myopic struggle to see things at distance. With high myopia you may only be able to see clearly a few centimetres in front of you. This can be remedied with glasses, and many myopes also like contact lenses.

There are new types of contact lenses and spectacle lenses for children that slow myopia development.

What are the serious consequences of myopia?

For most people myopia simply means they need specs or contact lenses to see better, but for a very small number, particularly those with high myopia, the consequences can be more severe, Increased risk of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma and light sensitivity.

Does myopia run in the family?

Myopia can run in families. This means that you have an increased chance of developing myopia if one or both of your parents have it.

Does too much screen time increase myopia?

Spending long periods of time focusing on objects close to you such as books, tablets, phones and PCs can increase myopia.

What is myopia management?

Worldwide more children are becoming short-sighte. This condition is called myopia. There is now compelling scientific evidence, backed up by worldwide research, that shows specially designed spectacle or contact lenses can reduce how short-sighted a child may become. These interventions are termed myopia management and are available now from most opticians practices.

Talk to your dispensing or contact lens optician about what is the best option for your child.


What age are children likely to start becoming short-sighted?

Children typically start becoming short-sighted between the ages of six and eight, although this can start earlier or later. Short-sightedness generally progresses faster if it starts at a younger age. Research is being carried out into how to stop or slow the progress of short-sightedness.

What can be done to stop my child becoming short-sighted?

There are a number of treatments being researched which may slow the growth of short-sightedness in children. Currently a treatment using eye drops has been shown to be effective, but this can blur the child’s close vision. The most success has been shown so far using specially designed contact lenses which slow the progression of short-sightedness in 59% of children using them. There are things you can do to help your child too. Long hours of close work, reading or on screens influences the development of short-sightedness. Time outdoors is linked to less short-sightedness. If you are concerned about your child’s eyes, book a sight test.

Can my child wear contact lenses?

Children can wear contact lenses from a young age. For younger children contact lens wear needs the parent, child and contact lens optician to work together. Contact lenses can be great for younger children with high prescriptions and those who find their specs get in a way of activities. A new type of contact lens has been shown to slow the development of short sightedness in children which is another advantage.

Ask to speak to a contact lens optician about this if you want to find out more about contact lenses for your child.