People with nearsightedness have difficulty seeing things far away, while those with farsightedness may have difficulty seeing nearby objects. Eye doctors can perform tests to determine whether a person is nearsighted or farsighted.
This article discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatments of nearsightedness and farsightedness. It also looks at how people can tell if they are near- or farsighted and answers frequently asked questions.
In the United States,
Children of a biological parent with nearsightedness are more likely to develop the condition. A person’s nearsightedness usually increases until adulthood. Some people’s nearsightedness improves in later adulthood.
Causes of nearsightedness
- the eyeball growing too long from front to back
- the cornea, which is the clear layer at the front of the eye, being too curved
- the lens having an unusual shape
A person can see because their eyes focus light onto their retinas. The retina is a light-sensitive area at the back of the eyeball that sends images to the brain.
A nearsighted person’s eye focuses light in front of their retina, not on it. This makes faraway objects look blurry.
- difficulty seeing faraway objects clearly
- having to squint to see clearly
- eyestrain, or having sore or tired eyes
People with nearsightedness may also sometimes experience headaches.
If a person only has mild nearsightedness, they may not have any symptoms. However, eye doctors can detect nearsightedness during eye exams.
People with farsightedness cannot easily focus on nearby objects, which may look blurry. They can usually see faraway objects clearly.
Farsightedness usually occurs from birth. However, a person may not have symptoms until they get older. A person’s farsightedness also often improves with age.
Another name for nearsightedness is hyperopia.
Causes of farsightedness
- a person’s eyeball growing too short from front to back
- the cornea being too flat
- the eye lens being unusually shaped
These eye changes cause light to focus behind a person’s retina, not on it. This makes nearby things look blurry.
Biological parents may pass on farsightedness to their children. Farsightedness can also occur without any familial link.
The most common farsightedness symptoms
- headaches, especially when reading
- difficulty focusing on close objects
Eye doctors can detect farsightedness during eye exams. However, people with mild farsightedness may not notice any symptoms.
Eye doctors can adjust people’s vision with both conditions with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery.
The conditions differ in terms of where the eyes focus light on the retinas. People with nearsightedness have eyes that focus light
People with farsightedness have the opposite condition. Their eyes focus light
With nearsightedness, people may have difficulty seeing clearly in the following situations:
- when driving
- while watching movie or TV screens
- when reading whiteboards in school
People with farsightedness may instead have difficulty concentrating and focusing on near objects. They may experience headaches after working close to an object and be irritable or nervous after concentrating for some time.
Common eye tests, such as those people receive in schools, may not detect farsightedness. However, eye doctors use eye exams to detect whether people have nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Eye doctors typically treat nearsightedness or farsightedness with eyeglasses or contact lenses. They can also treat adults with refractive surgery, such as laser surgery or lens exchange.
Both surgeries allow people’s eyes to focus
People with nearsightedness may only need to wear glasses for certain activities, such as driving or watching a film. However, those with a higher prescription may need to always wear glasses.
Healthcare professionals can treat nearsightedness with laser eye surgery by removing a small section of a person’s cornea. People with higher prescriptions or thin corneas may need lens exchange surgery instead. This is because laser surgery would remove too much of their cornea to be safe.
Researchers found the surgery provided good results. However, they recommend more research into the quality of sight improvement.
Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about nearsightedness and farsightedness.
Can a person be nearsighted and farsighted?
Yes. If people have farsightedness in one eye and nearsightedness in the other,
Are reading glasses for people with nearsighted or farsighted vision?
Nearsightedness and farsightedness can both result from changes in the shape of the eye. However, they cause different effects on vision.
Faraway objects may appear blurry to people with nearsightedness, while people with farsightedness may have difficulty seeing nearby things.
Eye doctors can easily treat both of these vision issues with glasses or contact lenses. Healthcare professionals can also typically use surgery to address near or far sight.