Diseases & Conditions
Screening and diagnosis
Nearsightedness is diagnosed by a basic eye exam. Three kinds of eye
specialists, each with different training and experience, can provide
routine eye care:
An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist with an M.D. (doctor of
medicine) degree. He or she is trained to have a thorough
understanding of all serious eye conditions and the treatment
options available to you. Ophthalmologists perform eye surgery when
An optometrist has an O.D. (doctor of optometry) degree. For the
most part, an optometrists is limited to evaluating vision,
prescribing corrective lenses and diagnosing eye disorders for
referral to an ophthalmologist.
An optician is an eye specialist who fills prescriptions for
eyeglasses — assembling, fitting and selling them. Some states also
allow opticians to sell and fit contact lenses. The American Board
of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners administer
tests to certify the skills of opticians.
complete eye examination involves a series of tests. Your eye doctor may
use odd-looking instruments, aim bright lights directly at your eyes and
request that you look through an array of lenses. Each test is necessary
and allows your doctor to examine a different aspect of your vision.
to American Academy of Ophthalmology, recommendations for regular eye
If you don't wear glasses or contacts, have no symptoms of eye trouble
and are at a low risk of developing eye disease, it's recommended that
you have an eye exam at the following intervals:
At least once
between ages 20 and 39
Every 2 to 4
years between ages 40 and 64
Every 1 to 2
years beginning at age 65
if you wear glasses or contacts, have your eyes checked every year. And
if you notice any problems with your vision, schedule an appointment
with your eye doctor as soon as possible, even if you've recently had an
eye exam. Blurred vision, for example, may suggest you need a
Children and adolescents
Children need to be screened for eye disease and have their vision
tested by a pediatrician, an ophthalmologist or another trained screener
at the following ages and intervals:
child or adolescent may need more frequent visits if he or she
experiences any problems with vision or has symptoms of eye trouble. In
addition, children and adolescents who have a disease that puts their
eyes at risk, such as diabetes, may need more frequent eye exams.
untreated nearsightedness can cause complications, such as:
quality of life.
Nearsightedness can affect your quality of life. You might not be
able to perform a task as well as you wish, and your limited vision
may detract from your enjoyment of day-to-day activities.
Squinting your eyes to see in the distance can cause eyestrain and
For your own safety and that of others, don't drive or operate heavy
equipment if you have an uncorrected vision problem.
Severe nearsightedness increases your risk of developing glaucoma, a
potentially serious eye disease. Nearsighted people have two to
three times the risk of developing glaucoma as do people who aren't