Is it possible to reverse myopia?
Currently, there is no way to reverse myopia (short-sightedness). Myopia usually occurs due to progressive structural changes in the eyes. These changes cannot be undone, but the blurry vision they cause can be corrected and if detected early enough, it is possible to slow down myopia progression.
Short-sightedness is an error of refraction (the light-bending power of the eye). Myopic eyes bend light rays to a focal point too far in front of the retina, which causes blurry distance vision.
There are two main types of myopia, grouped by the mechanisms causing the refractive error:
Axial myopia – The eye is too long from front to back, so the focal point created by the cornea and lens falls in front of the retina. This is the most common type.
Refractive myopia – The cornea and/or lens are too curved, so they bend light rays at a sharper angle, creating a focal point in front of the retina.
Since eye length and the natural shapes of the cornea/lens can’t be reversed, neither can myopia be reversed.
LASIK and other refractive surgeries are also options. Most of these procedures work by removing corneal tissue from the surface of the eye.
Many people think of refractive surgery as a way to reverse myopia. However, it’s more accurate to think of it as long-term correction. Removing corneal tissue simply reshapes the eye’s surface so it acts as its own corrective lens.
Refractive surgery should never be done until a person’s prescription stabilises. For some people, myopia can continue to get worse well into adulthood.
Myopia that continues to get worse is called progressive myopia. Progression usually begins in early childhood, and it can move slowly or quickly. There’s no way to reverse myopia progression, but there are ways to help slow it down.
These methods are called myopia control. Most of the approaches focus on reducing axial growth during childhood and adolescence.
Myopia control glasses
Compared with regular single-vision lenses, newer lens designs are showing success in slowing myopia progression in children. These lenses use DIMS or HALT technology to slow down eye growth by creating peripheral defocus on the retina.
Myopia control contact lenses
These special lenses are also designed to slow down axial eye growth. They work similarly to myopia control glasses.
Ortho-k corneal reshaping lenses are worn overnight to temporarily correct myopia the next day. There is evidence that orthokeratology can also reduce axial length growth.
Atropine eye drops
Atropine drops paralyse the eye’s focusing muscles. They are very effective in slowing myopia progression, though it's not totally clear why.
Healthier vision habits are probably the easiest myopia control strategies that one can use:
Spending at least 90 minutes outdoors per day in the daytime may lower the risk of developing myopia.
Taking regular breaks during prolonged near work may reduce myopia progression.
If it's been more than a year since your last eye exam, schedule one today with an optometrist near you.
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Page published on Tuesday, 17 March 2020
Page updated on Friday, 11 August 2023
Medically reviewed on Tuesday, 19 July 2022