What’s the Difference Between Farsighted & Nearsighted?
If you or your loved one are unfamiliar with vision terms and hear the words farsighted or nearsighted, you might wonder what they mean. In fact, many patients ask us, “What is the difference between farsighted and nearsighted?” Both are refractive conditions—they refer to how light is focused in relation to the eye. Below, learn what farsightedness and nearsightedness mean, as well as the differences between the two.
Summary: Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a common condition that affects the ability of the eye to focus at close range. Farsightedness is most commonly corrected with glasses or contacts. Laser surgery is an option, but with varying results.
Eye Health: Options for Treating Farsightedness
Affecting anywhere from 10-25% of the adult population, farsightedness is an eye condition that can cause headaches, severe eye strain, and fatigue when performing close-up work such as reading for long periods of time, writing, drawing, or working on the computer.
What is Farsightedness?
Also called hyperopia, farsightedness is characterized by the inability to focus on objects at close range. Like nearsightedness and astigmatism, farsightedness is caused by a refractive error. Instead of light rays hitting the retina directly like they are supposed to, incoming light rays incorrectly bend causing a convergence behind the retina instead of on the retina. This incorrect refraction of light is often caused by abnormally flat corneas or small eyeballs – both of which are inherited characteristics. Farsightedness can also develop with age as eye muscles lose the flexibility to focus at close range.
Common Remedies for Farsightedness
Fortunately, there are ways to correct farsightedness.
- For some, controlling high blood pressure. High blood pressure affects every area of the body including the eyes. Pressure can build in the eyes causing farsightedness as well as other eye conditions. Sometimes mild farsightedness can be corrected by simply lowering blood pressure.
- Eye glasses or contacts lenses. Corrective lenses are widely used to correct farsightedness. Many people only where their glasses when doing close-up work. Some hyperopes find that contacts offer them a better vision alternative than glasses by giving them a wider field of view.
Correcting farsightedness with surgery is a little more complicated than correcting nearsightedness. In addition, although hyperopia surgery is generally considered successful, long-term results vary widely. Some common surgical procedures for hyperopia are as follows:
- PRK. Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a procedure that is performed using a laser to remove a thin layer of tissue from the cornea. This procedure refocuses the light entering the eye and hitting the retina. Because there are limits to how much corneal tissue can be removed safely, results from PRK surgery vary according to degree of farsightedness.
- Hyperopia LASIK. This surgical procedure removes tissue from the internal layers of the cornea. The outer layers of the cornea are cut and folded back to expose the inner layers. A laser beam is then utilized to remove the inner corneal tissue. Like PRK, the range of sight correction is dictated by the amount of corneal tissue that can be safely removed.
Farsightedness, also referred to as hyperopia, is a common eye condition that affects a large portion of the population. Many cases of farsightedness are due to inherited factors, but the risk of developing this condition increases with age as the eye muscles lose their flexibility which is essential for focusing on images at close range. In fact, about 50% of those people that are over 65 years of age have some degree of farsightedness. Most people who have hyperopia are fitted with corrective lenses or contacts. Other options include a number of procedures using various laser technologies.
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