Refractive Errors

What type of lens is used to correct nearsightedness?

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Nearsightedness — the condition where a person can see near objects clearly but distant objects are blurry — typically is easily corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Lenses used to correct nearsightedness are concave in shape. In other words, they are thinnest at the center and thicker at the edge.

These lenses are called "minus power lenses" (or "minus lenses") because they reduce the focusing power of the eye. By doing so, minus lenses move the focus of light in a nearsighted eye from a point in front of the retina backward — so it falls directly onto the surface of the retina. This shift corrects the blurry distance vision caused by myopia (nearsightedness), restoring clear vision.

Myopia promo 3: Half the world's population may be nearsighted by 2050

The power of lenses that correct nearsightedness is measured in units called diopters (D). The lens powers on an eyeglass prescription for myopia always begin with a minus sign. The higher the power number of the lens, the more myopia it corrects.

For example, a -6.00 D lens corrects twice the amount of nearsightedness as a -3.00 D lens.

High-index lenses  typically are recommended for correcting nearsightedness greater than -3.00 diopters. These lenses are thinner and lighter than regular plastic lenses, making them more attractive and comfortable.

Also, anti-reflective coating is highly recommended for lenses that correct nearsightedness. AR coating eliminates distracting reflections in the lenses, making them appear thinner and more attractive. Eliminating reflections also improves vision and comfort.

Ortho-k contact lenses are another choice for the correction of nearsightedness. These are specially designed rigid gas permeable (GP) contact lenses that not only correct existing myopia — they may actually help control myopia progression in children.

Finally, people with moderate to severe myopia may benefit from implantable lenses. Known as phakic IOLs, these tiny lenses work like contact lenses but are implanted surgically within the eye, directly behind the pupil. No maintenance is required, and phakic IOLs offer permanent correction of nearsightedness, similar to LASIK eye surgery.

To determine the best vision correction options for your needs, schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor near you.

Page updated June 2019

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