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Myopia, a Greek word meaning 'closed eye' is the medical name given to near sightedness. This condition is very common and people who are myopic have poor distant vision so objects appear blurred and they tend to squint if this is left untreated. Their near vision is generally not affected, but as they get older they will have the same problems with near vision while wearing glasses as people with normal vision have. The solution to this is to wear glasses which correct both long and near sightedness.

Near sightedness occurs when the eyeball is too long and/or the cornea is too convex. Because of this, images are focused on the front of the retina instead of on its surface resulting in unclear vision. Sometimes only one eye is affected by near sightedness and in most cases the degree of myopia is not the same in each eye. Myopia can be mild, moderate, serious or malignant. When it is malignant, the affected person will need to be monitored.

Myopia generally appears in childhood. About six percent of children between the ages of seven and eleven are myopic and this number rises between the ages of eleven and twelve. If a child sits very close to the television or squints to read far away signs it is a sign that he/she is experiencing blurred vision. Headaches are also one of the first signs that there might be a problem.

The retina in near sighted people tends to be more taut and this can result in tearing or detachment. Myopic people are also more prone to glaucoma, cataracts and spots in front of the eyes. Anyone who is near sighted should have regular check ups.

Once the optician diagnoses the problem he will prescribe corrective glasses or contact lenses. At first they may only be needed for reading, watching television or using the computer but as time goes on they will probably have to be worn all the time. Contact lenses are often preferred because they are more practical and they give a wider visual field. Studies have also shown that contact lenses can actually help prevent myopia progressing. A more risky treatment which is also becoming popular is a laser procedure which corrects eyesight.