Yes! Most people can slow down or stop their eyes from becoming more myopic (nearsighted or shortsighted). Stronger glasses each year should not be normal. There is no cure, but you can most likely improve how your eyes are changing.
This site is about eyes, why they become myopic (nearsighted or shortsighted) and how you might slow or stop that process. It is written for parents, students and doctors. Options are laid out for those interested in their own or their child's vision. The extensive myopia research with references to the professional literature, including links, are for clinicians or others who are interested in learning about the most current data.
Myopia, also called nearsightedness or shortsightedness, is the eye condition where objects nearby or a short distance away are clear but objects that are far away are blurred. It is caused by the eye being slightly too long. You can read about it in the Definitions menu.
Some children (and adult) eyes develop myopia and the percentage of people who develop it is increasing sharply. This site is about the science of myopia with the goal of stopping or slowing its progression. Myopia is getting worse around the world, even to the point of being called an epidemic by some. In some parts of Asia, 80% of the girls in high school are myopic. In the United States, myopia has increased 66% in thirty years so that now 42% of people aged 12-54 are myopic. It has become an issue of monumental importance affecting over a billion people around the world and it is getting worse.
Research is showing that that there are methods to slow or prevent the progression of myopia, but the actions work best when the child is younger. Myopic changes are generally permanent; they don't get better with treatment. Treatment should therefore be designed to prevent the development and progression and to do that requires eye examinations to start at a young age, approximately five years old for yearly exams. There are no guarantees that any specific treatment will work for an individual person but the lack of early care prevents any potential benefit from starting early.
The story about myopia is complicated. My goal is to allow you to explore that complexity if you wish, or to just effectively jump to the conclusions about what you should do about it. If jumping to the conclusion is your style, then check out the Action Plan menu at the top of each page. If you prefer to become educated about myopia and where current research is showing progress, then keep reading.
There are facts all over this web site, but an overview is helpful. Small children fairly universally develop good vision. When they reach their school years, some of them develop blurred distance vision as their eyes become myopic. Here are some random facts to get you thinking: Myopic parents have more myopic children than non-myopic parents. People in urban environments have more myopia than rural or primitive societies. The amount of reading or near work a person does is not predictive of whether they will become myopic. Native Eskimo populations, spending many months of the year in small enclosed structures, working with tools and other close vision tasks, do not develop myopia. However, their children develop high rates of myopia when sent to schools. The eye determines where correct focus is located while it is growing by the clarity of peripheral (side) vision, not central vision. People who spend more time outdoors, even if they have myopic parents and even if they read a lot, are less likely to become myopic. As you can see, the story is not straightforward. If you were expecting "your genes determine if you become nearsighted and reading makes it worse" then now is the time to learn the real story.
Research labs around the world, multiple clinical trials and thousands of patients willing to participate are piecing together the story of why myopia develops and thus how it and the eye might be controlled. The work continues but it has reached a stage where the results can not be ignored. It is time to put what has been learned into clinical practice and start to bring this run-away phenomena under control. The clarity of vision of hundreds of millions of people is at stake. It is truly an exciting time for both patients and doctors.
If you are a doctor interested in learning more about the current state of myopia research and its prevention, then you've come to the right place. The references and comments are extensive and will be updated as new research continues to be published. Check out the For Doctor menu item.
For the patient, an historical perspective is needed because eye problems and especially myopia have a rich history of bogus claims concerning cures. Most of the popular alternative-medicine writings about myopia have to do with reducing the myopia that one already has, in essence a "cure" for myopia. There is no cure - you can read about the whole idea under the Treatments menu selection Alternative Views. This site is about stopping the progression of myopia - finding it early and stopping it from getting worse. That is a big difference. Myopia forms because the eye grows too long. There is no anatomical method to shrink an eyeball short of cutting part of it off. The goal of this site is to determine what mechanisms control eye growth and to then interrupt that control.
The web is full of false information and many doctors have become skeptical of any progress in this area because there have been so many false claims over the years. Patients have become skeptical of doctors because they are offered few options besides "wear the glasses" when their eyes and vision get worse. Patients feel helpless and their search for cures often leads them away from help that is actually available. There are no books for sale on this site. There are no vision-improvement programs, eye charts, colored filters, pin-hole glasses, reading devices, self-help guides or all the other paraphernalia for sale you may find from a myriad of sources. This site is about laying the groundwork for a discussion between you and your doctor about your vision and how you are going to try and stop it from becoming more myopic.
Eyesight is the result of the living tissue of the eye turning the light that enters it into a chemical signal that is relayed to the brain which interprets the signal from thousands of cells and creates a balance of electrical energy that we call vision. We do not fully understand all the steps along the way and while our knowledge is growing rapidly, there is no way that specific responses can be guaranteed. This site does not recommend a specific course of action for any one individual. People are different and will react differently to the same situation. Your results may not be what is intended or desired. Your results may vary from nearly everyone else undertaking the same treatment. Talk with your doctor to determine your best course of action.
This site is about a myopia variety commonly called juvenile onset or school myopia. Degenerative myopia of steadily increasing power with pathological changes such as glaucoma, choroidal atrophy, breaks in Bruch's membrane, subretinal neovascular membranes, subretinal neovascularization, retinal breaks and detachments are most likely due to additional mechanisms not well understood yet. None of the studies referenced here relate to this type of myopia. Treatment of these more severe, sight threatening conditions is beyond the scope of this site and needs to be pursued considering the latest available treatment options. Read the disclaimer link "Terms" at the bottom.
Myopia Control during Orthokeratology Lens Wear in Children Using a Novel Study Design (Swarbrick 2015) (Research - Orthokeratology sub menu above) A prospective, randomized, contralateral-eye crossover study conducted over a 1-year period showed that orthok lenses stopped axial length eye growth while standard rigid gas-permeable lenses did not. Eye length growth is the best indicator for increased myopia.
Current Status on the Development and Treatment of Myopia (Cooper 2012) (Research - Reviews/Summaries sub menu above) "In summary, myopia control is entering a new era with the use of contact lenses and pharmaceutical agents to effectively slow its progression with minimal side effects."
Myopia Control with Corneal Reshaping Contact Lenses. (Walline 2012) (Research - Orthokeraology menu above) "Myopia affects a significant proportion of the world population, and corneal reshaping contact lenses were shown to slow the progression of the disease significantly. Thus, the findings of the randomized clinical trial reported by Cho and Cheung potentially could affect millions of people almost immediately."