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.

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Faraway objects can look blurry to people with nearsightedness, while nearby things will look clearer. Doctors also refer to nearsightedness as myopia.

In the United States, 1 in 3 people have nearsightedness, which usually develops in childhood.

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 include:

  • 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.

Learn more about the structure and anatomy of the eyes.


Nearsightedness symptoms include:

  • 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.

Most infants have farsightedness at birth, but fewer than 4% still have it at 1 year old. People with a farsighted biological family member are also more likely to be so.

Another name for nearsightedness is hyperopia.


Causes of farsightedness include:

  • 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.

Learn more about retinal problems.


The most common farsightedness symptoms include:

  • headaches, especially when reading
  • eyestrain
  • difficulty focusing on close objects

Eye doctors can detect farsightedness during eye exams. However, people with mild farsightedness may not notice any symptoms.

Both nearsighted and farsighted people have blurry vision. In both conditions, the eyes focus light away from the backs of the retinas.

Eye doctors can adjust people’s vision with both conditions with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery.

Learn more about how people can determine their glasses prescription.

The conditions differ in terms of where the eyes focus light on the retinas. People with nearsightedness have eyes that focus light too far forward from their retinas.

People with farsightedness have the opposite condition. Their eyes focus light behind their retinas.

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.

Healthcare professionals use refractive laser surgery to reshape a person’s cornea. In refractive lens exchange, they swap a person’s natural lens for an artificial one.

Both surgeries allow people’s eyes to focus correctly onto their retinas, improving their sight. We discuss other treatments for nearsightedness and farsightedness below.

Learn more about glasses vs. contact lenses.


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.


People with mild farsightedness may not need glasses if their eyes correct their vision naturally. Otherwise, doctors can treat it with glasses or contact lenses.

Laser surgery can currently only treat mild farsightedness. However, a 2019 study investigated laser surgery for people with high farsightedness.

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, they have a condition called antimetropia.

Are reading glasses for people with nearsighted or farsighted vision?

Reading glasses are typically for people with 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.