You may have heard of nearsightedness and farsightedness before, but what are they really? Both are some of the most common forms of visual problems we encounter in our office and are very common among patients. Nearsightedness means that people can see objects clearly up close, but objects farther away are blurry. Farsightedness is its opposite as objects farther away will be clear, while those close are blurry. For vision to work properly, we want both your distance and near vision to be working properly and your focus to be clear. We can help teach you the differences between nearsightedness and farsightedness, how they are easily treated, and what your options are when it comes to your eye health. Learn more today!
Did you know that your brain does most of the “seeing” for you? Light rays hit your eyes in the form of light waves. This light enters the eye through the cornea (the clear layer of your eye that looks like a contact lens). This cornea is right on top of your iris, or the colored part of your eye. The actual lens of the eye rests behind the colorful iris. When light hits the cornea, it will react by refracting the light (bending it) that passes through the pupil of the eye (the black circle at the center). The lens and pupil of the eyes will change in shape and size to regulate how much light hits the retina. The retina sits at the back of your eye and is the main player when it comes to seeing images. The retina contains nerve cells (called rods and cones) that transform the light information into electrical impulses. These impulses are sent through the nervous system to the brain, where the images are then interpreted.
As we mentioned, nearsightedness means that you can see objects clearly up close, but objects farther away are blurry. You will be able to see objects up close such as a book when reading but may struggle to read road signs, screens and other objects if they are too far away. How does this happen and why? Nearsightedness is a refractive error of the eye, and the most common refractive error patients have. Refractive error means that there is an abnormal shape or size to the eye that makes it difficult for the retina of the eye to focus light.
The official name for nearsightedness is myopia. Myopia happens when the eyeball is too long. Because the eyeball is longer than normal, light cannot focus properly through the lens and cornea. When you view an object, the light rays that hit your eye will end up focusing at a point in front of the retina instead of focusing directly at the retina. This is why objects farther away become more blurry compared to objects up close. The focusing distance is further. Nearsightedness can also be caused by the curvature of the lens of the eye. If the lens is too curved, this will throw off your focusing point as well. Your risk for myopia increases slightly if others in your family have it, as there is a genetic element that is a factor.
Farsightedness is the opposite of nearsightedness. Objects farther away are seen clearly, while objects up close are blurry. The official term for farsightedness is hyperopia. Both myopia and hyperopia have to do with how light focuses on the eye and where. With hyperopia, the eyeball is either too short or there is not enough curvature of the lens for objects to focus properly. Light will focus at a point beyond the retina instead of in front of the retina or directly on its surface. This causes blurry vision up close. Hyperopia is less common than myopia. It is also much harder to detect common vision screenings (such as those conducted by schools). However, a comprehensive exam can detect hyperopia, which is why it’s important to see your eye doctor for a proper diagnosis.
There are many problems that could go wrong with the eyes. You can have perfect vision all of your life and suddenly your vision begins to change. This is common with age, especially once our patients reach 40 or 60, as these are common times for visual changes. The good news is that many eye problems are treatable and even correctable.
Nearsightedness and farsightedness are two of the most common problems we encounter in our office. Many patients with these conditions can easily fix the problem with corrective lenses or glasses. If you notice that you struggle to focus on objects up close or far away, don’t wait for treatment! Call Optical Masters today at (720) 807-7600 for your free consultation or to schedule your appointment. Clearer vision is just one call away!