Pseudomyopia is a condition that resembles myopia. Distant objects are blurry, but close objects appear crisp. However, even though they may be related, these two conditions are different.
In this article, we’ll go over what is pseudomyopia. We will also answer some common questions around this condition and explain how it is different from myopia.
What Is Pseudomyopia?
Pseudomyopia is when a spasm occurs in the muscle inside the eye responsible for controlling the focus of your eyes’ lens. This is the ciliary muscle. In order to better understand what is pseudomyopia, let’s first go over how the ciliary muscle inside your eye works:
The ciliary muscle is responsible for what we call accommodation. Accommodation is when the lens of the human eye changes shapes to adapt depending on if you are looking at close objects or distant objects.
It adjusts the accommodation automatically, without you needing to consciously think about it. It’s an involuntary reflex.
The ciliary muscle is able to control the lens and change its shape to give you clear vision at both near and far distances. When you look at something far away the muscle relaxes, and when you look at something near the muscle contracts. The closer the point of focus, the more the muscle contracts.
The right side of the image above shows what happens if your ciliary muscle didn’t contract when you looked at a close object. The lens wouldn’t adjust and you would see close objects blurry (similar to the way someone who has hyperopia sees).
How close is the screen you’re reading this on from your eyes? Probably just a few inches. Your ciliary muscle is probably contracted as you read this.
Understanding What Is Pseudomyopia
When your ciliary muscle has to stay contracted for long periods of time to accommodate for close-up work, it can spasm. This is what we call pseudomyopia (also known as nearwork-induced transient myopia).
It can happen for a variety of reasons. It’s most commonly because of spending long periods doing close work (reading, computer, smartphones). This causes blurred distance vision (just like myopia) due to a cramp in the ciliary muscle that stops it from relaxing.
Basically, the muscle locks up and the lens stays stuck in the “close-up” mode (in a more round shape), instead of relaxing to a flatter shape.
To measure pseudomyopia, we can examine the difference between the sharpness of your vision before a task that involves looking at close objects, and after that task.
Is Pseudomyopia Permanent?
No. Pseudomyopia is generally temporary. It’s “pseudo” myopia or “transient” myopia because it’s just a muscle spasm.
But problems can arise if it’s mistaken for real myopia and actually corrected with lenses.
Do You Need Glasses for Pseudomyopia?
No. Pseudomyopia is generally a temporary condition.
In order to truly determine if you need glasses, your eye doctor should ask you about your current vision habits. For example, how much time do you spend looking at screens per day? They can also administer eye drops that make your ciliary muscle relax.
Special eye drops like atropine allow the ciliary muscle to relax. This is perfect for eye examinations because it allows your doctor to know if you really have myopia or just pseudomyopia.
If blurry distance vision doesn’t continue after these you’re given these eye drops, then you probably had pseudomyopia.
Does Pseudomyopia Lead to Myopia?
Myopia (also known as nearsightedness) is when the eyeball is longer than normal. This makes light focus in front of the retina, instead of on the retina, causing blurry distance vision.
The retina is located in the back of the eye. It is responsible for translating light into an image that the brain can read.
In both cases, you can’t see clearly because the focal point of the image falls in front of the retina, instead of on the retina. The difference is that with myopia this happens because of an eyeball that is longer than normal. On the other hand, with pseudomyopia, it happens because of a temporarily tight ciliary muscle.
Problems arise when pseudomyopia is misdiagnosed and treated with lenses. If you are incorrectly diagnosed with myopia and start wearing glasses or contact lenses, you will probably develop real myopia.
Our eyeballs have the ability to change their length. This study shows that just 60 minutes is enough to see measurable change in the length of the eyeball when exposed to undercorrection or overcorrection:
the human visual system is capable of detecting the presence and sign of defocus and altering optical axial length to move the retina toward the image plane
If your eyeball is exposed to a correction it doesn’t need, it can’t be good.
Can Pseudomyopia Be Cured?
Yes. If you limit the amount of time your ciliary muscle is contracted, the muscle will eventually relax and the myopia symptoms will probably disappear.
Here are a few options to explore in order to reduce the time your ciliary muscle is contracted:
In general, avoid doing close-up work for long periods of time without taking breaks. Also, spend more time outside looking in the distance.
These are reading glasses. Eye prescriptions with a positive number correct the vision of people who can’t see close objects clearly but can see distant objects just fine.
If you can still maintain an acceptable level of visual acuity while wearing reading glasses — even if you don’t need them — these can help. In this case, they would have the purpose of acting like a “reverse” myopia prescription. This would enable your ciliary muscle to stay in a relaxed position while looking at close objects.
Atropine eye drops help the ciliary muscle to relax. They are also a proven effective way to slow the progression of myopia in children. The problem is it’s unlikely you will get a prescription for atropine, but you never know. Talk to an eye doctor you trust.
Pseudomyopia is a temporary worsening of visual acuity identical to myopia. It’s a spasm of the ciliary muscle. It causes vision to stay stuck in “close-up” mode. Myopia is different because what causes it is an elongated eyeball.
A good eye doctor will be aware of this and will recommend some lifestyle changes (like spending more time outdoors), before prescribing you glasses or contact lenses.
We hope this article helped you understand what is pseudomyopia. If you have any questions, leave them below in the comment section! We will get back to you as soon as possible.
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