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What’s the Difference Between Being Nearsighted and Farsighted?

Mar 9, 2021 | Eye Health | 0 comments

Does nearsighted mean it’s easy to see close up or far away? What’s the difference between these opposite conditions, and what causes these types of vision loss? We’ll give you a hint — there’s a bit of physics involved! Read on to learn more about nearsightedness and farsightedness, and what it could mean for you!

First, let’s take a quick look at how your eyes focus light. As light comes in through the cornea, the clear dome at the front, the light is refracted – the light bends as it passes from the air to your eye – and is focused onto the retina in the back of your eye. If the light is focused precisely on the retina, then vision close up and far away can be normal. Nearsightedness and farsightedness are types of refractive errors. In both cases, the light is not refracted properly. 

Nearsightedness – Myopia

Nearsightedness is called myopia. People who have myopia can see things clearly that are close to them, but objects in the distance appear blurry. As the light comes into the eye, it is actually being focused in front of the retina (check out the image above). This can be caused by your eyeball being a little bit too long or your cornea being especially curved.

What causes this? How could an eyeball be too long or a cornea too curved? Unfortunately, it’s a bit out of your hands. Genetics is one of the main reasons you could be susceptible to being nearsighted. If one or both of your parents have this condition, there is a greater likelihood that you will too. As they say – it runs in the family!

Even though we can’t change our genes, we can modify our vision habits. Looking at objects close up for long amounts of time can lead to an increased chance of developing myopia. Bad news for people who work on the computer and for bookworms! It’s always good to take breaks to reduce the strain on your eyes – follow the 20/20/20 rule to help with this! Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away.

Unlike many eye conditions that have a higher likelihood of presenting later in life, people with myopia often are diagnosed as children, teens, or young adults. This is why getting an annual eye exam is so important for people of all ages.

Farsightedness – Hyperopia

Also known as hyperopia, farsightedness isn’t as common as nearsightedness. This condition affects about 5-10 % of Americans whereas about 40% of Americans develop myopia to some extent in their lives. Just as myopia is genetic, farsightedness is also hereditary.

If your eyeball is a little too short, or your cornea isn’t curved enough, then your eyes will focus light a little behind the retina. Objects far away will be clear, but objects up close can appear blurry. This can make activities like driving or reading difficult. Patients with hyperopia often experience eye strain when performing these activities. 

If you notice you have to squint harder to read something or hold it farther from your face, schedule your annual eye exam!

Presbyopia

As people age, they will probably start to develop presbyopia to some degree, especially after the age of 40. Presbyopia is similar to hyperopia, but is caused by aging. As your eye ages, the lens becomes less flexible and focusing becomes more difficult. Similar to patients with hyperopia, those developing presbyopia will have a difficult time focusing on objects close up.

How are these conditions treated?

The good news is that myopia, hyperopia, and presbyopia are all easy to correct for. Getting glasses or contacts are the most common treatments. There are so many frames these days and glasses can be a fun way to show off your personality and add to your look! 

Even if you’ve already been diagnosed with one of these conditions it’s still important to go to your regular eye exams because your chances of some of the following diseases could be increased.

At Nanodropper, we are eye health nerds! We also care about breaking down barriers to patient care. Learn more here about how Nanodropper can reduce waste and save you money on your eyedrops!

Author: Alena Rainsberry

Medically reviewed by: Jordan Stanley, MD





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