Myopia, meaning short sightedness is said to develop when eyes are exposed to excessive strain. But what I've failed to understand properly is whether myopia can be reversed or cured in any manner? When I was diagnosed with myopia in my childhood, my doctor told me that if I were to stare at far away objects for long periods, it would help cure my eyes. I'm not sure if what he said was to keep me off my computer, or whether it had some scientific background. Thus my question, is myopia reversible, naturally or through medication?

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Myopia, or nearsightedness, occurs when the eye grows too long from front to back. According to the American Optometric Association,

Myopia occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is too curved. As a result, the light entering the eye isn't focused correctly, and distant objects look blurred.

Instead of focusing images on the retina, the lens of the eye focuses the image in front of the retina. In a normal eye, the light focuses on the retina. However, in individuals with myopia, the eyeball is too long and focuses light in front of the retina. 

Although genetics plays a major role in the development of myopia, it's development may also be affected by how an individual uses their eyes. For example, individuals who spend a considerable amount of time doing near-work such as reading, writing, and working on a computer have an increased risk of developing myopia. Although it primarily presents in school-aged children, adults may also develop the condition as a result of visual stress or as a complication of another health condition such as diabetes.

Can myopia reversible, naturally or through medication?

Although a cure for nearsightedness has yet to be discovered, several studies suggest it may be possible to at least control myopia by slowing its progression.

An article published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology: ‘Eye Drops That Can Slow Down Nearsightedness in Children’ references a clinical trial on atropine which was conducted to compare the safety and efficacy of different concentrations of atropine eye drops for the control of myopia progression. Results of the five-year trial indicate that a low concentration of atropine drops could potentially be an effective treatment for myopia.

In a five-year clinical trial, investigators there showed that 0.01 percent atropine drops safely slowed down the progression of myopia by about 50 percent with almost no side effects.

'The Safety of Orthokeratology - A Systematic Review' evaluates the ocular safety of orthokeratology (also known as Ortho-K or OK) for the treatment of myopia.

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that OrthoK is a safe option for myopia correction and retardation. Long-term success of OrthoK treatment requires a combination of proper lens fitting, rigorous compliance to lens care regimen, good adherence to routine follow-ups, and timely treatment of complications.

Another study analyzes the efficacy of atropine eye drops and orthokeratology lenses in controlling myopia progression and elongation of axial length. ’Overnight orthokeratology is comparable with atropine controlling myopia,' a retrospective study, included 105 patients (210 eyes) who wore OK lenses and 105 patients (210 eyes) who applied 0.125% atropine every night during the 3 following period.

The change in axial length per year was 0.28 ± 0.08 mm, 0.30 ± 0.09 mm, and 0.27 ± 0.10 mm in the OK lens group, and 0.38 ± 0.09 mm, 0.37 ± 0.12 mm, and 0.36 ± 0.08 mm in the atropine group for years 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Linear regression analysis revealed an increase in myopia of 0.28 D and 0.34 D per year, and an increase in axial length of 0.28 mm and 0.37 mm per year in the OK lens and atropine groups, respectively. Repeated measure ANOVA showed significant differences in myopia (p = 0.001) and axial length (p < 0.001) between the atropine and OK lens groups; in astigmatism, there was no significant difference in these parameters (p = 0.320).

Comparison of increases in axial length in relation to baseline myopia showed significant correlations both in the OK lens group and atropine group.

High myopia patients benefited more from both OK lenses and atropine than did low myopia patients. The correlation of baseline myopia and myopia progression was stronger in the OK lens group than in the atropine group.

Results of the study reveal that the OK lens is a useful method for controlling myopia progression even in high myopia patients.

In conclusion, although myopia cannot be reversed (yet), several studies concur that it is possible to control or slow the progression of nearsightedness.

  • I have been researching eyesight for a LONG time, and I have never seen a mention of orthok before, wow.
    – VSO
    Jul 19, 2019 at 16:49

There appear to be both genetic and environmental factors for the development of myopia. The results from the Sydney Myopia study found that

RESULTS: Children who became myopic spent less time outdoors compared with children who remained nonmyopic (younger cohort, 16.3 vs. 21.0 hours, respectively, P<0.0001; older cohort, 17.2 vs. 19.6 hours, respectively, P=0.001). Children who became myopic performed significantly more near work (19.4 vs. 17.6 hours; P=0.02) in the younger cohort, but not in the older cohort (P=0.06). Children with 1 or 2 parents who were myopic had greater odds of incident myopia (1 parent: odds ratio [OR], 3.2, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9-5.2; both parents: OR, 3.3, 95% CI, 1.6-6.8) in the younger but not the older cohort. Children of East Asian ethnicity had a higher incidence of myopia compared with children of European Caucasian ethnicity (both P<0.0001) and spent less time outdoors (both P<0.0001). A less hyperopic refraction at baseline was the most significant predictor of incident myopia. The addition of time outdoors, near work, parental myopia, and ethnicity to the model significantly improved the predictive power (P<0.0001) in the younger cohort but had little effect in the older cohort.

In adults refractive surgery can ameliorate myopia but I'm not aware of any drugs that can do this in the adult.

It would seem prudent, especially in at risk populations such as east Asian, and if one has a parent with myopia, to spend adequate hours outside in sunlight to help prevent the development or progression of myopia.


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