For some, nearsightedness is curable. However, this depends on the person’s age and other factors. Medications may prevent its progression in children, while some adults may be eligible for laser eye surgery.

Nearsightedness, or myopia, means a person cannot see distant objects clearly. Myopia occurs due to the shape of the eye or the cornea, which is the transparent film over the iris. It can also have a genetic cause.

With early diagnosis, treatment can stop the condition from worsening. Alternatively, some procedures can correct eye problems permanently.

This article explores how to correct nearsightedness, including the potential benefits of glasses, exercises, eye drops, and surgery.

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Sometimes, it may be possible to cure nearsightedness. However, this depends on a person’s circumstances.

In some children, doctors may recommend treatments to prevent nearsightedness from progressing by reducing how much the eye elongates as the child grows.

In adults, surgery may be an option. While laser surgery for correcting nearsightedness is permanent, some people may experience vision that worsens again over time.

Learn more about who can have eye surgery.

There is no evidence that eye exercises improve nearsightedness in adults or children. The American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend it.

Myopia occurs due to the shape of the eye, and eye exercises do not change this. However, eye exercises may help with a condition called convergence insufficiency.

In this condition, the eyes do not work together to focus on an object in a person’s near vision. Exercises such as pencil push-ups can help.

Learn more about eye exercises.

Prescription glasses can improve vision, but in most cases, they only help while a person is wearing them. No evidence confirms that wearing standard prescription lenses helps reverse nearsightedness.

However, some special types of lenses may be able to slow the progression of nearsightedness in children. They include:

  • Diffusion optics technology (DOT): These lenses look like typical glasses, but they have tiny dots on them. Research has shown they work in children to reduce the progression of myopia.
  • Peripheral defocus lenses: These contact lenses are suitable for children between 6–12 years old. They work by blurring a person’s peripheral vision, which some believe may slow eye growth, reducing nearsightedness.
  • Orthokeratology: This treatment involves wearing hard contact lenses that flatten the cornea. A person must wear them while sleeping every night.

Some of these treatments are very new or still in development and may not be accessible to everyone. There is also a risk of eye infections with orthokeratology and peripheral defocus treatment, as with all contact lenses.

Wearing glasses does not make myopia better or worsen it. However, not wearing glasses when needed can have adverse effects. Untreated myopia may cause:

  • tired eyes
  • headaches
  • difficulty learning or concentrating

Learn more about glasses and contact lenses.

In children and teenagers, low dose atropine eye drops can slow the progression of nearsightedness. Atropine works to prevent the eye from elongating too much.

For this treatment, an adult must administer the eye drops once daily at bedtime. Alternatively, older children may be able to use the drops themselves.

Atropine eye drops require long-term use, but they are effective. They can stop or slow the progression of nearsightedness in 80% of children.

Some potential side effects of atropine eye drops include eye redness and itchiness. Drops with a lower concentration of atropine can cause fewer side effects.

Learn more about eye irritation.

Some procedures can permanently treat nearsightedness in adults. It removes the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Laser eye treatment reshapes the cornea to focus light through the eye better. Refractive lens replacement corrects vision and involves an eye surgeon removing the lens and replacing it with an artificial one.

A 2020 study on laser eye surgery found photorefractive keratectomy and femtosecond laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (FS-LASIK) offered long-term benefits. Overall, FS-LASIK had better safety and efficacy scores.

However, it is important to note that vision naturally worsens with age, so some people may find their vision gets worse again after having surgery. Some may benefit from repeated surgeries.

Learn more about LASIK as an option for myopia.

Typically, children who develop nearsightedness continue to have the condition as they get older. Occasionally, though, nearsightedness may improve on its own. This can happen if the cause of the nearsightedness is the temporary result of eye development.

As children grow, the shape and structure of their eyeball changes. At birth, infants have farsightedness, but as they grow, the eyeball elongates to correct this. Sometimes, over-correction can cause nearsightedness.

Sometimes, this may change as they continue growing. Nearsightedness has a strong genetic component.

Because doctors do not always know the reason for the child’s nearsightedness, they may recommend treatment to slow the progress of myopia in children, as this will give them the best chance of clear vision as adults.

Learn more about myopia and genetics.

In children, special lenses and atropine eye drops may help stop nearsightedness from worsening. There is also some evidence that spending more time outdoors may reduce its progression.

A 2019 review suggests that exposure to natural sunlight may protect against the development of myopia.

Natural light may also prevent nearsightedness from worsening, whereas artificial or indoor light may contribute to the condition. According to some data, the lifetime risk of myopia reduces by 2% for every additional hour a person spends outside per week.

Learn how to protect your eyes, including when outside.

Nearsightedness is a widespread vision issue that eye doctors treat with glasses, contacts, or other interventions such as laser treatment. Surgery is a permanent treatment for nearsightedness. Atropine eye drops, orthokeratology, and certain lifestyle strategies can help stop or slow the progression of nearsightedness in children.