What is myopia?

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is an eye defect in which you have trouble seeing sharply in the distance. Wearing glasses or contact lenses with a minus strength can correct this. The choice of contact lenses is vast. You can choose soft lenses, hard lenses and even lenses that you only need to put in at night (orthokeratology) such as DreamLite® night lenses.

Myopia can have two causes: 

  1. Excessive axial eye length (the eye has become too long). 
  2. Excessive refractive power (of the eye lens). This is also called “refractive myopia.” 

Refractive myopia is rare. In most cases, myopia is caused by the eye becoming too long in axial length. The incoming light rays no longer fall on but in front of the retina. This creates a blurred image when looking into the distance.

The number of children and adolescents who are nearsighted has been increasing dramatically in recent years. A quarter of 13-year-olds in the Netherlands are currently nearsighted.1 Not only is the number of nearsighted children increasing, but the degree of nearsightedness is as well (the degree of the minus strength).2 This rapid increase is due in part to lifestyle; children are spending more time indoors and looking more often and for longer periods of time close-up on mobile devices. Looking into the distance is becoming increasingly difficult.

This increase is worrisome. Especially since, as myopia worsens, the risk of eye health problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment increases. Not only are these conditions very annoying, but they can eventually lead to blindness.3 

Want to read more about myopia in children and what to do about it? Check it out here.

Eye disorders

It’s not always a refractive defect that causes you to see less sharply. Sometimes there’s something else going on.

Eye exams

There are several ways to examine your eyes. An initial exam is often done using an autorefractor.


Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is an eye defect in which you have trouble seeing sharply in the distance.

1 NOS nl Kwart 13-jarigen bijziend, onderzoekers waarschuwen voor telefoongebruik. Jun, 2018.
2 Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016; 123:1036-42.
3 Flitcroft DI. The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2012 Nov;31:622-660.