Treatment options for short-sightedness (myopia) 

    Treatment
    Pros
    Cons

    Useful links

     

    Corrective lenses

    Glasses

    Metal or plastic frames that have prescription lenses in them

    • Simple method of correcting refractive errors and eyesight
    • Inexpensive compared to other treatment options
    • Many different styles of frame to choose from
    • Bifocal and multifocal lenses available
    • Will need to have new lenses fitted if your prescription changes 
    • As you get older and your eyesight deteriorates, you may need to switch between two pairs of glasses – one for close work and the other for looking at distant objects
    • Some people may feel self-conscious about wearing glasses 
    Contact lenses

    Small prescription lenses that are positioned on the front of your eye

    • Simple method of correcting refractive errors and eyesight
    • Relatively inexpensive compared to other treatment options
    • Lighter than glasses and almost invisible
    • Many different lens materials and designs to choose from
    • Most lenses need to be changed on a regular basis
    • Can be difficult to put in and take out at first 
    • Risk of eye infections if good lens hygiene is not maintained
    Orthokeratology

    A rigid contact lens that is worn overnight to reshape (flatten) the cornea

     

    • Similar advantages to normal contact lenses
    • No need to wear glasses or contact lenses during the day
    • May reduce the rate of progression of short-sightedness
    • Still an emerging treatment – not clear whether totally safe and effective
    • Lens may be uncomfortable
    • The effect may wear off during the day, resulting in short sight starting to come back
    • Not suitable for everyone
    • Risk of infection

     

    Laser surgery

    Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)

    A small amount of the cornea's surface is removed and a laser is used to change its shape

    • Laser surgery usually has good results, with around 9 out of 10 people experiencing a significant improvement in their vision
    • Takes less than 30 minutes to complete and don't need to stay in hospital overnight
    • Takes longer and is more painful than other laser techniques
    • May not improve your vision to the same degree as wearing corrective lenses
    • Can only be carried out if your cornea is thick enough, you're over 21 and your vision is stable
    • Risk of complications, such as vision problems and dry eyes
    • Can take a long time (up to six months) for your vision to stabilise afterwards
    • Not usually available on the NHS
    • Expensive – approximately £800-1,500 for each eye
    Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK)

    Alcohol is used to loosen the surface of the cornea before it is lifted out of the way. A laser is then used to change the shape of the cornea

    • Faster and less painful than PRK
    • Vision usually recovers within a few days
    • Don't need to stay in hospital overnight
    • Laser surgery usually has good results, with around 9 out of 10 people experiencing a significant improvement to their vision
    • May not improve your vision to the same degree as wearing corrective lenses
    • Can only be carried out if your cornea is thick enough, you're over 21 and your vision is stable
    • Risk of complications, such as vision problems and dry eyes
    • May take up to a month for your vision to stabilise completely
    • Not usually available on the NHS
    • Expensive – approximately £800-1,500 for each eye
    Laser in situ keratectomy (LASIK)

    Similar to LASEK, but only a small flap is made in the cornea

    • Faster than PRK and not usually painful
    • Vision usually recovers within one to two days
    • Don't need to stay in hospital overnight
    • Laser surgery usually has good results, with around 9 out of 10 people experiencing a significant improvement to their vision
    • May not improve your vision to the same degree as wearing corrective lenses
    • Can only be carried out if your cornea is thick enough, you're over 21 and your vision is stable
    • Risk of complications, such as vision problems and dry eyes
    • May take up to a month for your vision to stabilise completely
    • Not usually available on the NHS
    • Expensive – approximately £800-1,500 for each eye 

    Lens implant surgery

    Phakic lens implant

    An artificial lens is inserted in front of your natural lens through a small cut in your cornea

    • Can improve vision for people who are severely short-sighted or can't wear glasses
    • Don't usually need to stay in hospital overnight
    • Usually achieves slightly better long-term results than artificial lens replacement
    • Usually only suitable for young people with normal reading vision
    • Risk of complications such as thickening of the lens and retinal detachment
    • Higher risk of complications such as cataracts, then lens replacement 
    • Relatively new procedure, so little information about whether it's safe or effective in the long term
    • Not usually available on the NHS
    • Very expensive – approximately £4,000-5,000 for both eyes
    Artificial lens replacement

    Where your natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one

    • Can improve vision for people who are severely short-sighted or can't wear glasses
    • Don't usually need to stay in hospital overnight
    • More suitable for older adults with existing damage to their eyes or an eye condition other than short-sightedness, such as cataracts or glaucoma
    • Lower risk of complications such as cataracts than phakic lens implant
    • May not be quite as effective as phakic lens implant in terms of long-term improvements to vision 
    • Risk of complications such as thickening of the lens and retinal detachment
    • Relatively new procedure, so little information about whether it's safe or effective in the long term
    • Not usually available on the NHS  
    • Very expensive – approximately £4,000-5,000 for both eyes