What does Myopia Mean?

Myopia causes blurred vision when looking into the distance. Myopia can have different causes and is treated accordingly in different ways.

What is myopia?

A visit to the doctor is advisable as soon as a reduction in the usual vision sets in. If objects or people can no longer be recognized as usual when looking into the distance, a doctor should be consulted. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Myopia.

Myopia is a defect in which objects that are far away from the viewer are not seen clearly. On the other hand, if you are nearsighted, things that are close to the viewer are seen clearly.

People who suffer from myopia but do not wear the appropriate optical aids (glasses or contact lenses) often squint when looking into the distance; in this way, short-sightedness can improve vision for a short period of time.

Myopia owes its name to this fact, because the Greek term for short-sightedness is based on the word ‘myops’; this means something like ‘blink face’ in German.

The degree of short-sightedness is given individually in the unit dioptres; Myopia is characterized by diopter values ​​in the negative range, ie -0.5 diopter, for example.


Myopia can have a variety of causes. The most common cause of myopia in Germany is an eyeball that is too long in relation to its refractive power (this form of myopia is also referred to as axial myopia).

With this form of short-sightedness, the rays of light falling on the eye are already bundled before they hit the retina, and the image on the retina becomes blurred as a result. Axis myopia as a form of myopia can be hereditary, but is also frequently observed in people who were born prematurely.

Another possible cause of myopia is excessive refractive power or a curvature of the cornea or lens; This form of short-sightedness is referred to as refractive myopia. This form of myopia is less common in Germany.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Short-sightedness often shows up in early childhood, it rarely develops until adulthood. The symptoms of myopia are usually such that they worsen over time. This means that over time, vision becomes more and more limited. With visual aids, however, the progression of myopia can be contained well until there is no further deterioration.

The first signs are usually that those affected unconsciously squint their eyes when they look at something in the distance. This is due to the attempt to compensate for the insufficient accommodation of the lens by reducing the incidence of light. Accordingly, this is first seen with objects that are far away, and then later with objects that are quite close.

There are increasing problems with the recognition of faces, lettering and so on. Reading a book, on the other hand, does not cause difficulties. Illuminated objects are perceived as particularly blurred. [[[Headache]] or dizziness may occur if the focus is left on distant objects for a long time – for example, a lecture or a television set several meters away. In addition, the eyes can sometimes start to hurt.

Myopic people are also more prone to seeing shadows or streaks in their own field of vision. This is due to liquefied portions of the eyeball, which appear earlier in myopic people than in people with perfectly healthy eyes.

course of the disease

Schematic representation of the anatomy of the eye with myopia and after treatment. Click to enlarge.

Nearsightedness usually develops within the first three decades of life and then no longer progresses or progresses much more slowly. In the case of severe myopia, however, there can still be a significant deterioration after the age of 30 years.

If myopia is in the form of axial myopia (i.e. the eyeball is relatively elongated), the more severe the myopia or the longer the eyeball, the greater the risk of the retina thinning.

As a result, severe short-sightedness can lead to retinal detachment. This also increases the risk of going blind if the ophthalmologist does not treat the retinal detachment in good time.


As a rule, myopia does not lead to any particular complications for the patient. In most cases, however, the disease cannot be cured causally, so that patients are dependent on glasses or contact lenses. There is also no self-healing. Those affected suffer from visual disturbances due to short-sightedness and can no longer recognize objects correctly.

As a rule, complications only arise if the short-sightedness is not treated and the person concerned does not wear glasses. The muscles of the eyes continue to be strained, so that the ametropia can become even worse. In the worst case, it can also lead to complete blindness of the patient.

In adulthood, myopia can be treated with laser surgery. There are no complications and the symptoms disappear after the procedure. However, glasses or contact lenses can also be worn. The affected person may not be able to carry out certain jobs or activities because of the short-sightedness. However, this does not affect or reduce the life expectancy of the patient.

When should you go to the doctor?

A visit to the doctor is advisable as soon as a reduction in the usual vision sets in. If objects or people can no longer be recognized as usual when looking into the distance, a doctor should be consulted. If your own vision is significantly impaired in direct comparison to people in the immediate vicinity, a doctor must be informed of the observations. If the vision is blurred or if the targeted contours are only blurred, an eye test will provide information about the existing impairments. A sudden or gradual loss of vision is cause for concern. A doctor should also be consulted if the ability to see far is only sporadically reduced.

Stress triggers, taking medication or other causes can lead to temporary myopia. To avoid permanent damage, it is advisable to see a doctor for a check-up. If the person concerned suffers from insomnia, headaches or if he perceives pain in his eyes, a doctor’s visit is necessary. A doctor should be consulted if there is a feeling of pressure in the head, inner restlessness, a decrease in concentration or performance. If the abnormalities of reduced vision occur despite the presence of visual aids, a doctor must be consulted. Correction adjustments are necessary to prevent further deterioration of vision.

treatment therapy

Far more people today have poor eyesight than a century ago. Only an eye test brings certainty about the performance of the eyes.

Myopia can be treated in a number of ways. One possibility is the use of optical aids (glasses or hard and soft contact lenses). Lenses used in myopia are negative lenses. They are characterized by a negative refractive power. So-called OK contact lenses can be used against mild myopia; they can temporarily flatten the cornea slightly.

Other treatment options are (depending on the type of myopia) surgical intervention to correct myopia; in the case of axial myopia, an operation can take place, for example in the form of a laser treatment. One of these procedures is the LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) procedure.

A narrow layer of the cornea is lifted with a scalpel and folded upwards; Subsequently, in the case of myopia, fine parts of the center of the cornea are vaporized by a laser so that the incident light is first focused on the retina and sharper vision is possible. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis and takes a few minutes. An improvement in distance vision is often noticeable after a few hours.

As a rule, the less pronounced the short-sightedness, the higher the chances of success in completely compensating for short-sightedness.

Outlook & Forecast

Myopia offers a relatively good prognosis. Myopia can be completely corrected with visual aids and surgical interventions. Affected people have the option of undergoing laser treatment or taking other measures to reduce myopia.

The prognosis is worse if the myopia occurs in the context of a chronic disease that continues to progress. For example, short-sightedness in the case of a hereditary disease can be treated symptomatically, but the ability to see continues to decrease. The patient eventually becomes completely blind. As a result, the quality of life decreases considerably, since previous activities can no longer be carried out. Often the profession has to be changed and financial burdens arise because the health insurance company does not pay for the consequences of a sudden illness.

In general, however, the prognosis for myopia is positive. If the person concerned wears visual aids or undergoes an operation, normal life is possible. Life expectancy is not affected by myopia. In the case of congenital short-sightedness, laser treatment or other interventions are often not possible. Those affected are usually dependent on visual aids. However, this is at best an optical flaw and usually does not result in any further health problems.


There are few ways to effectively prevent myopia. Depending on the form of myopia, however, possible consequences can be prevented (for example, regular visits to an ophthalmologist can help to prevent or remedy a detachment of the retina at an early stage in the case of severe short-sightedness); the course of some forms of refractive myopia can be positively influenced by consistent treatment of the underlying problems (e.g. cataracts).


Follow-up care aims to treat a disease that has recurred at an early stage. This is known, for example, from tumors. In the case of short-sightedness, however, the situation is different. It is permanent and cannot appear repeatedly. In addition, it is not a life-threatening disease. The aftercare here is more aimed at supporting the affected person in their everyday life and preventing complications.

This is done primarily by providing suitable aids such as glasses and contact lenses. Adequate eyesight is not only a prerequisite for taking part in road traffic, but is indispensable for almost all areas of life. However, since changes in vision are not uncommon in the course of life, ophthalmologists recommend an annual check-up.

In this case, other secondary diseases are also clarified. The acute extent of the complaint forms the basis for the scope of an examination. In the meantime, there is also the possibility of an operative correction. However, the result of such an intervention cannot always be predicted.

If the desired goal is achieved in the form of 100% vision, aftercare will no longer be necessary in the long term. Only in the case of acute vision loss does the patient consult an ophthalmologist. If the surgical intervention does not achieve the desired effect, it is still necessary to use a visual aid.

You can do that yourself

If intensive, tedious eye work cannot be avoided, temporary relaxation of the eye muscles can help. Those affected should occasionally look at a point in the distance. This changes the curvature of the lens, the eyes are “readjusted” and temporarily relieved. When working on the computer, a minimum distance of 50 cm to the monitor is recommended. Numerous settings such as an optimally selected contrast, an enlarged display of the objects and selectively selectable magnifying glasses make screen work easier for short-sighted people. In extreme cases, a Braille keyboard is recommended. Special computer programs read screen texts aloud, and in your free time you don’t have to read audio books or audio magazines yourself.

Strict organization and good labeling of objects prove their worth in everyday domestic life. Victims can use brightly colored marking tape to identify sharp, pointed, or breakable items from afar. Marking points in different colours, shapes and sizes help on electrical appliances such as cookers or washing machines. With their help, switch settings can be felt. In order to avoid serious mix-ups with medicines, there are medicine dispensers from the pharmacy. Relatives can sort the required daily dose into it. In the case of harmless substances, such as drinks or food, it helps to consult other sensory perceptions. Much can be discerned by its texture, size, weight, and smell. Glare-free, flicker-free light supports the view.

In the public space there are special services for the visually impaired. For example, some airlines offer escort services at the airport. Visually impaired train passengers can book transfer assistance in advance and many timetables have a text mode.