March 29, 2022
3 min. read

Nearsighted vs Farsighted: What’s the Difference?

Medly

Most people with visual difficulties are either nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism—or even a combination of all three. But what’s the difference between these eye conditions? In short, farsightedness is the ability to only clearly see objects that are far away, while nearsightedness means the ability to see things nearby with relative clarity—but these differences can be hard to remember. 

Whether you’re getting ready for a check-up or preparing for your first visit to the eye doctor, knowing the difference between these common eye conditions can help you prepare. Read below to learn more about nearsightedness and farsightedness, as well as how they’re treated. 

Am I nearsighted or farsighted? 

A simple way to see if you are nearsighted or farsighted is to test which objects in your vision are blurriest. 

First, rest your eyes for a few moments—this means looking away from any screens and maybe even closing your eyes for a few minutes. 

Next, try seeing something up close; grab a book or a magazine, for example. If the words are blurry, or if you have a headache after trying to read, you may be farsighted. 

Then try looking at something far away, ideally from a distance of 10 feet or more. Can you see the sign across the street, or trees in the distance? If these are blurry or hard to see, you may be nearsighted.

It’s possible that you have difficulty seeing things both far away and nearby, in which case you may be both nearsighted and farsighted. If your vision bothers you, make an appointment with an optometrist to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.   

What is nearsightedness? 

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is an eye condition in which you can see nearby objects clearly, but faraway objects appear fuzzy or blurry. Nearsightedness belongs to a category of eye conditions known as refractive errors. Refractive errors occur when the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly, resulting in a blurred image.

How is nearsightedness treated? 

Corrective treatments for nearsightedness include:

  • Corrective lenses. Corrective lenses, like eyeglasses and contact lenses, treat nearsightedness by compensating for the curvature of your cornea or the elongation of your eye by shifting the focus of light as it enters your eye. Your prescription strength will depend on how far you can see clearly. You may need to wear corrective lenses all the time or just for certain activities, such as driving.
  • Refractive surgery. Surgery to treat farsightedness involves procedures such as LASIK, or laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis. Though it can be used for both, this procedure is more commonly used to treat nearsightedness than farsightedness.

What is farsightedness? 

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is another type of refractive error. Hyperopia occurs when close-up objects look blurry. You can be farsighted at varying degrees, depending on your eyes’ ability to focus on close-up objects. If you can only clearly see objects that are very far away, you’re severely farsighted.

How is farsightedness treated? 

The following treatments are available for farsightedness:

  • Corrective lenses. Corrective lenses will change the way light enters your eyes, helping you focus better. They are the easiest and least invasive way of correcting farsightedness.
  • Refractive surgery. Refractive surgery, or laser eye surgery, reshapes your cornea to focus light onto your retina and is a permanent treatment for nearsightedness.

If you feel you or your child may be suffering from refractive errors of the kind described above, make sure to reach out to an optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination. With a proper examination, you and your optometrist can proceed to determine which treatment options work best for you and your lifestyle.

Sources 

  • Astigmatism – Symptoms and causes. (2021, October 5). Mayo Clinic
  • Nearsightedness – Symptoms and causes. (2020, April 2). Mayo Clinic.
  • Iyamu, E., Iyamu, J., & Obiakor, C. I. (2011). The role of axial length-corneal radius of curvature ratio in refractive state categorization in a nigerian population. ISRN ophthalmology, 2011, 138941. https://doi.org/10.5402/2011/138941
  • Drexler, W., Findl, O., Schmetterer, L., Hitzenberger, C. K., & Fercher, A. F. (1998). Eye elongation during accommodation in humans: differences between emmetropes and myopes. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 39(11), 2140–2147. 
  • What Is Refractive Surgery? (2018, January 23). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  • Farsightedness – Symptoms and causes. (2020, June 16). Mayo Clinic.
  • LASIK eye surgery. (2021, September 29). Mayo Clinic.

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