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What Does Farsighted & Nearsighted Mean?

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Healthy eyes are crucial to everyday life. As children and adults, you use them to complete many tasks, such as study, read, watch TV, play sports, and work. Vision impairment can reduce work productivity and affect performance. 

Children’s eyes develop as they grow, which makes their first eye exam essential for maintaining overall visual health since the diagnosis of nearsightedness is usually before age 20 and levels off after 20. Subsequent exams during preschool and school years help with the early detection of visual concerns

Farsightedness (hyperopia) and nearsightedness (myopia) are common vision problems found in children. Numbers show approximately 30% of Americans have myopia, with a rise seen in school-aged children. Moderate farsightedness, seen in up to 14 percent of preschoolers, is between 3 and 5 years. 

Adults can also be diagnosed with nearsightedness due to eye conditions such as cataracts, diabetes, or eye stress. According to the American Optometric Association, 83% of adults will see age-related farsightedness. All the more reason not to skip adult and senior eye exams.  

The Difference Between Farsighted and Nearsighted

Farsightedness is a vision problem in which an individual cannot see objects nearby but can clearly see ones far away. Congenital farsightedness is an inherited condition, present at birth, and occurs when the cornea’s curvature is too little or the eye is shorter.

A normal-shaped cornea with a smooth curvature allows light to refract or bend to produce a clear image. With farsightedness, the light rays do not refract properly, causing light to go through a different pathway than it’s supposed to. 

Farsightedness can also result from a difference in eye length. If one is shorter than the other, light focuses behind the retina instead of directly on the retina, causing close-up images to blur.  

Nearsighted is when you have the opposite issue, where you see objects close up but cannot see them clearly at a distance. There are two reasons for nearsightedness: the eye is longer or the cornea’s curvature is too steep. 

The shape of the eye causes light rays to refract or bend as they enter the eyes. It forms a blurry image in front of the retina instead of on the retina. 

How to Diagnose Farsightedness and Nearsightedness

Eye conditions such as farsightedness and nearsightedness can develop gradually and sometimes without early warning. If not treated, nearsightedness and farsightedness will cause a decrease in your child’s vision. 

Routine and comprehensive eye exams are the key to healthy eyes and check for myopia, hyperopia, and other parameters such as hand-eye coordination, color vision, tracking, depth perception, and early signs of eye disease. 

If you suspect any of the following signs and symptoms, it’s time to visit experienced optometrists to address all your concerns and prevent any condition from worsening. 

Signs & Symptoms of Farsightedness

  • Objects close by are blurry
  • Squinting to see 
  • Eyestrain
  • Experiencing headaches

Signs & Symptoms of Nearsightedness

  • Objects or images in the distance are blurry
  • Difficulty seeing the blackboard or reading a book
  • Holding things close to their eyes to see them better
  • Persistent blinking and squinting
A woman with farsighted vision trying to read a book

Correcting Farsightedness and Nearsightedness

As children get older, the demand to focus on visual tasks increases. If your child has problems seeing their schoolwork, it might be from a vision problem. A refraction assessment can determine between farsightedness and nearsightedness. 

Equally important, as correcting any eye disease, quick treatment and management help preserve your eye health and prevent further damage. Correcting both nearsightedness and farsightedness is done with glasses or contact lenses

The goal of glasses or contact lenses to correct farsightedness and nearsightedness is to help focus the light on the retina. In nearsightedness, it counteracts the length of the eye (too long) and the steep curvature of the cornea. Depending on the degree of farsightedness, getting prescription lenses compensates for the short length of the eye and counteracts the lack of curvature in the cornea. 

Other preventive or corrective options are:

  • Orthokeratology or corneal refractive therapy (CRT) is a non-surgical procedure where you wear rigid contact lenses for a limited amount of time, sometimes overnight. Their designs reshape the curvature of the cornea gradually. 
  • LASIK, or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, uses refractive technologies. A laser beam removes some corneal tissue to reshape the cornea, helping refocus the light correctly when entering the eye.

Once diagnosed, regular monitoring of the condition throughout the teenage school years aids in picking up complications, including cataracts, glaucoma, retinal tears, or retinal detachment. 

Healthy Eyes Equal a Brighter Future

An eye examination can detect farsightedness and nearsightedness before you have any symptoms. In most cases, the earlier a problem is detected, the better the chances of successfully treating it.

For the effective diagnosis, treatment, and management of eye diseases, reach out to Dr. Henslick Vision Center for all inquiries and eye exam bookings

Written by Dr. Rob Henslick

Dr. “Rob” has been in private practice since the late 1980s. Dr. “Rob” graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 1984 and from the Southern California College of Optometry in 1988. He has been in private practice since graduating, and in Laguna Niguel since 1999. Dr. Henslick specializes in Family Eyecare, contact lenses, glasses and the treatment of eye disease. He is an expert in, dry eye disorders, LASIK consultation and cataract detection and management. Dr. Henslick has a friendly office staff who assist him in providing exceptional eye care for his patients.
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