Nearsighted vs. Farsighted: What’s the Difference?
August 24, 2023 • 7:00 AM
Been struggling to see clearly recently? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans have vision problems, many of them suffering from either myopia or hyperopia — or nearsighted and farsighted vision.
Let’s explore the similarities and differences between nearsighted vs. farsighted vision and learn what causes each one. Then we’ll look at how to treat them, so you can live your best life with clear vision.
Why You Need to Know if You’re Nearsighted vs. Farsighted
If you only have mild myopia or hyperopia, you may not even notice it, especially if you’re young. But it’s still worth having your eyes checked regularly because these vision challenges can lead to other, more serious conditions. Plus, who doesn’t want to see as well as possible?
If your vision problems are more severe, though, they can significantly impact your life. They make daily tasks more difficult and some, like driving, downright dangerous. Luckily, they’re relatively easy to treat — provided you know whether you’re dealing with nearsighted vs. farsighted vision.
What Is Nearsighted vs. Farsighted Vision?
Nearsightedness and farsightedness are not diseases. They’re refractive errors, which means your eyes don’t focus correctly.
When you have normal vision, light enters your eye through the cornea, pupil, and lens. These layers help to focus the light on the light-sensitive retina, which lies at the back of the eye. The retina connects to the optic nerve, which sends a signal to your brain — which then produces the images you see.
If there’s any unusual variation in any of these elements, for example, if you have too much or too little curvature in your cornea or if your eyeball is longer or shorter than most, you’re likely to have eye problems.
With both nearsightedness and farsightedness, you may experience symptoms like blurry vision, eyestrain, or headaches, or find yourself squinting to try to see more clearly.
So how do you tell whether you have nearsighted vs. farsighted vision? Let’s find out.
What Is Nearsightedness or Myopia?
If you suffer from nearsightedness, you’ll be able to see close-up objects clearly, but faraway objects may look blurry. So, for example, you’ll easily be able to read a book or a message on your cell phone, but you may struggle to see well when driving or watching your child on a sports field.
What Causes Nearsightedness?
Myopia is caused by an irregularity in the shape of your eye — either a slightly elongated eyeball or a cornea that’s too curved. So instead of the light entering your eye and focusing directly on the retina, it lands in front of the retina and can’t be focused properly. This causes blurry vision, especially if you’re looking out into the distance. It can also make seeing well at night much more difficult.
Although you usually inherit nearsighted vs. farsighted vision from your parents, how it develops over your life depends on how you use your eyes. If you do close-up work like reading or fine crafts, or you spend a lot of time working on a computer, using your phone, or playing video games, it’s likely to get worse. Perhaps this is part of the reason why the incidence of myopia is growing worldwide, especially among children.
Risks of Nearsightedness
If you have moderate to severe nearsightedness and it’s not treated, you could be at risk of other eye conditions, like macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts. In a worse case scenario, you may experience bleeding in the retina or retinal detachment, where your retina pulls away from its normal position. These can lead to permanent loss of vision. Yet another good reason to visit your eye doctor regularly!
What Is Farsightedness or Hyperopia?
If you have farsighted vision, distant objects appear quite clear to you, but nearby objects may look blurry. So admiring beautiful scenery or watching a movie will be easy, but you’ll probably find it more difficult to read the list of ingredients on an item in the grocery store.
What Causes Farsightedness?
If your eyeball is slightly shorter than usual or your cornea is a bit too flat, you’ll most likely be farsighted. When light enters your eye, it focuses behind the retina instead of on it, again causing blurry vision and often difficulties with depth perception too.
People with farsightedness are usually born with it, but it can be worsened by head injuries, sinus problems, and migraines.
Risks of Farsightedness
If a child with farsightedness doesn’t receive the correct diagnosis and vision correction, there’s a chance they may develop other eye problems as they grow. For example, if their eyes develop with different refractive powers, they may end up with amblyopia, or lazy eye, where one eye works much harder than the other. And if their eyes have to work too hard to see clearly, it can cause a squint — or crossed eyes. This is why it’s best to get them checked out early on so any issues can be corrected.
Can You Be Both Nearsighted and Farsighted?
It’s very rare, but a small percentage of people are farsighted in one eye and nearsighted in the other. This condition is called antimetropia.
How to Correct Nearsighted vs. Farsighted Vision
There are a few options available to treat these kinds of eye conditions. And whether you have myopia or hyperopia, they all help to focus light on the correct part of the eye.
Contacts vs. Glasses
The easiest forms of vision correction are contact lenses or a pair of eyeglasses. You’ll need to start by visiting your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. They’ll check your visual acuity and give you a prescription for the exact corrective lenses you need to help your eyes focus well.
If you’re nearsighted, your prescription will have a negative sign in front of it (for example, -0.25 or -4.0), and if you’re farsighted, it will have a positive sign (for example, +2.0 or +3.5).
This prescription is likely to change over time, so it’s a good idea to schedule a visit to your eye care specialist every year or two. They’ll also check your general eye health, so if you do develop any other eye conditions, you’ll be able to catch them early.
Once you have your prescription, you can take that to an eyewear retailer to get your new pair of contacts or eyeglasses.
In these types of eye surgery, the ophthalmologist uses a laser to alter the shape of your cornea, which helps the cornea to better focus light on the retina.
If you’re considering surgery, it’s best to speak to your ophthalmologist about which type is best for you.
Where Do Astigmatism and Presbyopia Fit In?
While some of the symptoms can be the same — for example, blurry vision, headaches, and eyestrain — the causes of astigmatism and presbyopia are quite different from nearsighted vs. farsighted vision.
Astigmatism is also a refractive error, but it’s caused by unevenness in the curvature of the lens or cornea. So rather than focusing on one point on the retina, the light scatters, creating multiple focal points.
It’s quite possible to have both astigmatism and either myopia or hyperopia. Whatever the combination, it’s easily corrected with the right single-vision lens prescription.
Presbyopia may seem a lot like farsightedness because it makes it difficult to see up close. It’s caused by the lens of the eye becoming less flexible as you age, resulting in blurry near vision.
If you only have presbyopia, a pair of reading glasses will solve the problem. But if you have nearsighted or farsighted vision and presbyopia, you’ll need multifocals — or their latest evolution, progressive lenses. These have different prescriptions in different parts of the lenses, depending on where you’re looking.
Where to Get Your Nearsighted or Farsighted Glasses
Whatever your vision needs, make sure you get your glasses from a high-quality online retailer like Pair Eyewear.
Use our Virtual Try-On feature and Size Guide to pick the best Base Frame for you. Then choose from our wide range of gorgeous, snap-on Top Frames to suit your personality and interests. During the ordering process, we’ll ask you for your prescription so we can custom-make your lenses for you.
Correct Your Nearsighted or Farsighted Vision Today
Myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) are refractive errors caused by slight differences in the shape of your eyeball or the curvature of your cornea. They make it difficult to see clearly, either far away or up close.
Luckily both conditions are easy to correct with the right prescription from your eye doctor and a great pair of glasses from Pair Eyewear.
Pick your Pair today and find out how much easier life is when you can see clearly!