Reviewed by: Dr. Matthew Miller, OD on Nov 26, 2020

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a vision condition that means a person generally sees better at close range than they would at distance. Myopia is a very common vision problem, affecting between 30-40% of people in the United States and Europe. The prevalence is even higher among Asian countries, particularly eastern Asia. In the vast majority of cases, some degree of nearsighted correction is necessary to achieve good, functional vision.

How does one correct myopia? Do I need to see an eye care professional to get a prescription for corrective lenses? Can I just buy myopia glasses over the counter? Which lens corrects nearsightedness?

These are all questions that often come up. Myopia is corrected by wearing a minus (-) lens. Unlike reading glasses, which are plus (+) lenses, you are not able to buy nearsightedness lenses over the counter. There are several good reasons for this, but the main reasons are you can get headaches, eye strain and can actually make your vision worse if you wear minus lenses that are too strong. This is why it’s best to have an eye care professional prescribe myopia glasses. You don’t want to end up with the wrong strength myopia correction lens!

Without a myopia lens in front of it, the myopic eye focuses light in front of the retina, leading to blurry vision at distance. Glasses that are made for correcting nearsightedness bend light in a way that allows the image you are looking at to be focused on the retina, the part of the eye that picks up the visual information.

In mild cases of myopia, you may find that you would only need glasses or contacts for long distance activities, such as driving, watching a movie in the theater, or sitting in the back of a classroom. In these cases, it’s fine to wear your corrective lenses only as needed. In fact, depending on your age and your amount of prescription, you may feel like you see a little better up close without your corrective lenses on.

With moderate and higher amounts of myopia, you may find you need glasses to do just about anything, distance or near! In these instances it’s a good idea to leave your glasses on to avoid squinting and headaches. If your prescription is particularly high, you may need to wear your corrective lenses to be able to hold reading material or digitalyour devices at a comfortable distance. It’s not much fun holding a book 3 inches from your nose!

Myopia is a world-wide vision issue that affects young and old. Don’t let blurry vision or squinty eyes ruin your day! Talk to your eye care professional today. There are plenty of options out there to help you see and live your best!