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Near-sightedness Vs. Far-sightedness: What’s the Difference?

By Essilor Canada

diagram of eye showing different details

Near-sighted and far-sighted individuals have opposite problems when it comes to vision. When you're near-sighted, your ability to see is better if an object is very close. For instance, reading a book is easy but reading a road sign isn't. If you're far-sighted, you see really well when an object is at a great distance, which explains why you might need reading glasses but are cleared to drive without them.

What correction is needed for near-sighted vs. far-sighted individuals?

Near-sighted (Myopia)

People who have near-sightedness (also known as myopia) can see close-up objects clearly while distant objects appear blurry. Near-sightedness occurs when the eyeball is too long, causing light rays to achieve a point of focus before they reach the retina.

People with near-sightedness might need eyeglasses, contact lenses, or corrective surgery, depending on their lifestyle, the driving rules in their state, and their occupation. How often they wear glasses may vary based on the severity of their condition. For example, some people might need glasses for driving, but can watch TV, go to the movies, and do everything else fine without them. Others might barely be able to see objects 10 feet away.

Far-sighted (Hyperopia and Presbyopia)

People who have far-sightedness (also known as hyperopia) have the opposite condition—close objects appear out of focus while distant objects are clear. Far-sightedness occurs when the eyeball is too short, causing light rays to reach a point of focus beyond the retina. While hyperopia is often hereditary, another form of far-sightedness, presbyopia, is a natural part of aging that usually starts around age 40. Presbyopia happens when the lenses inside the eyes lose their flexibility, making it harder to focus on objects up close.

Both forms of far-sightedness can be treated by eyeglasses, contact lenses, or corrective surgery. Some people might need to wear glasses all the time, while others might only need them for reading, working on a computer, or up-close tasks like sewing.

Myopia vs. Hyperopia Treatment

Glasses change the way light rays bend into the eyes while laser eye surgery reshapes the cornea so light focuses on the retina. When it comes to eyeglasses, getting the right prescription is a must. Wearing glasses with the wrong prescription can cause headaches, dizziness, and possibly nausea. It’s also worth looking into the latest lens technologies. For example, individuals with near-sightedness, or myopia, may enjoy the comfort offered by a lens like Eyezen™+, which prevents digital eye strain.

It's possible to have some degree of near-sightedness and far-sightedness together. Fortunately, the same corrective measures are available. It's important to get a comprehensive eye exam annually, not only to keep a prescription up to date, but to screen for eye conditions and take proper preventative or treatment measures.