Topic Overview

During an exam for
nearsightedness, your doctor will ask
questions about your health, lifestyle, medicines you are taking, and past eye
problems. Answers to questions about your family members can help determine
whether you may have inherited eye problems.

When a child is too young to be aware of blurred vision (younger than
age 7 or 8), the doctor commonly asks the parents questions such as those
listed below. The answers may help the doctor know whether the child is nearsighted.

  • Is there a family history of nearsightedness? Are
    the child’s parents or siblings nearsighted? (Most nearsightedness is
  • Was the child born prematurely? (Premature birth is a
    risk factor for nearsightedness.)
  • Where does the child sit in
    classrooms or movies? (A nearsighted child may have difficulty seeing the board
    or screen from the back of the room and so may prefer to sit near the
  • How far from his or her face does the child hold books to
    read? [A child with severe nearsightedness will hold books less than
    6 in. (15 cm) from the
  • Does the child enjoy sports and games? (Nearsightedness
    makes it harder to enjoy playing sports and games.)
  • Does the child
    squint or frown frequently? (Squinting changes the way light enters the eye and
    improves vision.)
  • How is the child’s general health? (A number of
    diseases may be associated with nearsightedness.)

After about age 8, most children can usually describe the blurred
vision caused by the start of nearsightedness, so these questions may not be
needed as much.

Physical exam

The doctor inspects the eyelids and other external
parts of the eye for signs of disease. Nearsightedness rarely has external

To look for problems with the muscles that control movement of the
eyeball, the doctor will ask the person to look in different
directions (such as up and down). In a child, severe nearsightedness in one eye
can sometimes cause
amblyopia (lazy eye).

Jerky movements of the eyes (nystagmus) may be seen in children who
have poor vision.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC – Ophthalmology

Current as ofMarch 3, 2017