At some point in your life, you will likely need some sort of vision correction. Whether you have difficulty seeing up close or further away. If you are a child, you might even need myopia management to help slow the progression of your nearsightedness. But what do nearsighted and farsighted even mean?
How Your Eyes Work
The eye consists of many different parts that work together to help you see. Light enters the front of the eye through a transparent layer called the cornea. The cornea is curved, which bends the light so that you can focus.
The light also passes through a lens that also bends the light and works with the cornea to help you focus on objects that are near and far.
Finally, the light hits the retina, which in many ways is the most vital part of the eye. The retina converts light into electrical signals that travel through the optic nerve into your brain, which is how the light is turned into the images that you see right now.
Pretty cool, right?
Someone with normal vision can focus clearly on objects that are far away and nearby because the light focuses correctly on the retina.
However, it’s common for an individual only to be able to clearly see things that are closer to them (nearsightedness or myopia) or farther from them (farsightedness or hyperopia). This is because the light is focused in front of or behind the retina and not on the retina itself.
It’s also common (especially with age) for individuals to be unable to see things that are either close or far away clearly. This condition is due to developing presbyopia, which is caused by the stiffening of the eye lens. Presbyopic individuals will often need multifocal contact lenses or bifocal glasses.
It’s also possible for someone to have astigmatism, which causes or exacerbates an existing eye disorder or refractive error. This means they might have astigmatism in addition to being either nearsighted or farsighted. However, today we will focus on standard nearsighted vs farsighted vision and the differences, causes, and possible treatments and remedies.
Nearsightedness or myopia is when an individual has difficulty seeing objects that are far away. Said differently, they can see nearby objects clearly. This is typically caused by the eyeball becoming elongated over time. This is an eye focusing disorder and not a disease of the eye.
A common example is a college student who only wears glasses to see the chalkboard from the back of the room. Or someone who only wears glasses or contacts to drive. Depending on the severity of their nearsightedness or myopia, they may not even seek correction since they can get by just fine.
Farsightedness or hyperopia is when an individual has difficulty seeing objects that are nearby. Said differently, they can see faraway objects clearly. It’s the opposite of being nearsighted. This is typically caused by the eyeball becoming shorter over time. This is an eye focusing disorder and not a disease of the eye.
A common example here is a college student who needs to wear glasses to read a textbook. Or someone who only wears glasses or contacts when they need to read a computer screen at work. There are varying degrees of hyperopia, so some individuals only perceive a very slight blurring of their close vision.
Treatments for Myopia or Hyperopia
The vast majority of refractive errors, including myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia, can be corrected with prescription contact lenses or glasses. This includes the fancy daily contacts or cheap contacts that are biweekly or monthly.
Surgical interventions can also change the shape of the cornea so that light focuses directly on the retina and removes the need to wear glasses or contacts. Common refractive surgeries include LASIK and Excimer Laser Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK).
Popular contact lens brands that correct for nearsighted or farsighted vision include:
The Difference Between Nearsighted and Farsighted Vision
Nearsighted vision occurs when the light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina. This causes faraway objects to appear blurry.
Farsighted vision occurs when the light entering the eye focuses behind the retina. This causes nearby objects to appear blurry.
The diagram below illustrates the differences between being nearsighted, farsighted, and having regular vision.
Shared Symptoms Of Myopia and Hyperopia
Individuals who suffer from myopia and hyperopia may experience similar physical symptoms. The signs and symptoms of nearsightedness and farsightedness include:
- Blurred vision
The Causes Of Near and Farsightedness
Nearsightedness or myopia is generally caused by the eyeball being too long relative to the optical length. These changes are common in children due to their growth, especially between the ages of 8 and 12.
Roughly 25% of Americans suffer from myopia, and it usually stabilizes between the ages of 20 and 30, although there can be further changes after that.
The shape of the cornea can also cause myopia, and having nearsighted parents also increases the likelihood.
In addition to genetic factors, there are also environmental factors that can cause or worsen nearsightedness. Some eye experts have found a link between years of school and myopia, which has been dubbed as ‘grad school myopia.’ This may be due to the constant strain caused by reading, thus causing small changes to the eye’s shape.
Hyperopia occurs when the eye is short or when the cornea is too flat. This refractive error is less common than myopia in adults. Most children are farsighted, but the condition corrects with age as the eye grows. Hereditary factors often determine the development of the eye, but environmental factors can also contribute to the development of farsightedness.
Camilo is the founder of Contacts Compare and is a contact lens enthusiast who has been buying, shopping, and comparing contact lenses for over 12 years. He started Contacts Compare because it was nearly impossible to compare prices quickly to make sure he was getting the best price possible. He holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. His favorite contact lens is Acuvue Oasys 1-Day with Hydraluxe.