Myopia is not being able to see clearly at a distance without the help of glasses or contact lenses. This means that you are near-sighted because you can see clearly at a near distance. If you are the opposite, which is far-sighted, you have difficulty seeing clearly up close, but, at a distance, you can see clearly. The opposite is called hyperopia.
Myopia Vs. Astigmatism
Many patients wonder how myopia is different from astigmatism. When you have myopia you a negative lens to correct your vision problem. When you have astigmatism you may need a positive or a negative lens to correct this. Astigmatism and myopia can happen independent from one another or they can happen together. Astigmatism correction in glasses is made up of two different sets of numbers. The first number is the level of the astigmatism, meaning how much astigmatism the eye has, and the second number is the axis of the astigmatism. For example, in a prescription -2.00 sph, the patient only has myopia. But, if the prescription were to read -2.00 -1.00 x 180, then the patient has both myopia and astigmatism. This patient has -1.00 astigmatism at the axis of 180. You must have an axis when you are talking about astigmatism.
Myopia Vs. Hyperopia
When you have myopia your prescription starts with a negative number. When you have hyperopia, or have farsightedness, you prescription starts with a positive number. For example, someone with myopia may have a prescription of -2.00, while a person with hyperopia, or farsightedness may have a prescription of +2.00. You can not have both myopia and hyperopia in the same eye. You can have myopia in one eye and hyperopia in the other eye. This is not very common but it is possible. An example of this is a patient who may have a prescription of +1.00 in their right eye, but -0.50 in the left eye.
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Treatment For Myopia
Both myopia and hyperopia can be treated with glasses or contact lenses. This is the most common way that myopia is treated. There is also permanent treatment for myopia which involves laser vision correction surgery. There are a few different types of laser vision correction surgery including PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), LASIK (laser in situ keratotomy), and SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction). Depending on your eye and your prescription the eye surgeon performing these surgeries may recommend one surgery over another type of surgery. A less common option for treatment of myopia is orthokeratology, or ortho-k. In orthokeratolgoy, a specially designed contact lens is used to temporarily reshape the front part of the eye, which is called the cornea. Usually these lenses are worn at night and their purpose is to reshape the cornea while you sleep. The vision improvements are usually temporary but it may be possible for longer lasting effects if you continue to use the contact lenses. Laser vision correction and orthokeratology are usually not covered by insurance and they typically cost a few thousand dollars. Some portion of glasses and contact lenses are usually covered by vision insurance plans. If you have myopia, you should consider this when choosing your insurance plan coverage.
Myopia: Take Home Points
Myopia is defined by having a negative prescription for your eyes and the inability to see clearly at a distance. The more negative your prescription is, the higher your degree of myopia. Patients who have a prescription of -1.00 can see more than people who have a prescription of -5.00. You can have myopia and astigmatism at the same time, but you can not have myopia and hyperopia in the same eye. Myopia is usually treated with glasses and contacts. Myopia can also be treated with laser vision correction. Laser vision correction is not covered by insurance and usually costs a few thousand dollars per eye.