How is myopia diagnosed?

Your eye care provider can diagnose myopia using standard eye exams. Myopia is usually diagnosed in childhood but can develop in adults as a result of visual stress or diabetes.

Adults. Your provider will test how your eyes focus light and measure the power of any corrective lenses you may need. First your provider will test your visual acuity (sharpness) by asking you to read letters on an eye chart. Then he or she will use a lighted retinoscope to measure how light is reflected by your retina. Your provider will use also use a phoropter. A phoropter is an instrument that measures the amount of your refractive error by placing a series of lenses in front of your eyes. This is how your provider measures the lens strength you need.

Children. Your pediatrician will check your child’s eyes at each well child visit. A first eye exam should be before age 1, if possible. If your child has no evident eye problems, then schedule a repeat eye exam before kindergarten. Since myopia runs in families, if your child has family members with vision issues, it’s even more important to test eyes early. If you or your or your pediatrician notice any vision issues, your child may be referred to an optometrist or pediatric ophthalmologist.

During a children’s eye exam, your eye care provider will do a physical examination of your child’s eyes and check for a regular light reflex. For children between the ages of 3 and 5 years, your provider will also conduct vision screenings using eye chart tests, pictures, letters or the “tumbling E game,” also called the “Random E’s Visual Acuity Test.” Since your child’s vision continues to change as he or she grows, continue to make sure they get vision screenings by a pediatrician or eye care provider before first grade and every two years thereafter. While most schools conduct eye screenings, they are usually not complete enough to diagnose myopia. About three quarters of nearsighted children are diagnosed between ages 3 and 12.

The American Optometric Association recommends comprehensive eye exams to catch vision conditions early when they can be more easily controlled for both children and adults.

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