What type of lens is used to correct nearsightedness?
Shortsightedness (myopia) is corrected with lenses called “minus power lenses.” They are concave-shaped and help the eyes focus light properly. Myopia causes a person to see distant objects as blurry. Prescription spectacles or contact lenses can usually correct this blurry distant vision.
The focusing power of an eye with myopia is stronger than a normal eye. It brings light to a focal point in front of the retina, instead of on the retina.
A lens used to correct myopia works by reducing the focusing power of the eye. This is why it is called a "minus power lens" (or "minus lens").
Minus lenses are concave in shape. In other words, they are thinnest at the center and thicker at the edge. This lens shape moves the focus of light from in front of the retina directly onto its surface. This shift corrects the blurry distance vision caused by nearsightedness.
The power of a lens that corrects myopia is measured in units called diopters (D). The lens powers on an spectacle 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 shortsightedness as a -3.00 D lens.
High-index lenses are typically recommended for correcting shortsightedness greater than -3.00 diopters. They are thinner and lighter than regular plastic lenses, so they are more attractive and comfortable.
Also, anti-reflective (AR) coating is highly recommended for lenses that correct shortsightedness. AR coating prevents distracting reflections in the lenses and improves vision and comfort.
Spectacles tend to be more well tolerated than contact lenses. They are usually the first line of myopia correction for this reason. But contact lenses are also successful in correcting myopia.
With either option, the most important factor is wearing the correct lens prescription. Regular eye examinations are critical to ensure the myopia is not under corrected as this can increase the rate at which the myopia can progress.
For children with progressive myopia, standard spectacles and contact lenses may not be the best first choice. The standard prescription lenses used for myopia correction do not help to slow myopia progression.
In these cases, myopia control spectacles or myopia control contact lenses may be the better option. These specialized lenses are designed specifically to slow myopia progression. They are able to slow the elongation of the eyes, which is the most common cause of myopia progression.
To determine the best vision correction options for your needs, schedule an eye exam with an optician near you.
Update and guidance on management of myopia. European Society of Ophthalmology in cooperation with International Myopia Institute. March 2021.
IMI – Defining and classifying myopia: A proposed set of standards for clinical and epidemiologic studies. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. February 2019.
Page published on Thursday, 27 June 2019
Page updated on Thursday, 15 June 2023
Medically reviewed on Thursday, 20 January 2022