Nearsighted or Farsighted? Myopia and Hyperopia Explained
Myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) are two common eye conditions that can cause significant vision impairment if left untreated. Although the types of vision problems myopia and hyperopia cause are different, they are similar conditions in that they are both refractive errors that exist because of irregularities in the physical shape and size of the eye. A refractive error affects your vision due to the way it acts on light. The lens of your eye is there to refract (focus) light onto the retina, and irregularities in the shape or size of the eye mean that this cannot be performed correctly.
Myopia is known as nearsightedness because people with myopia see better close up – they see “near” objects more clearly. If you have myopia, you experience impaired vision when you try to focus on objects at a distance, such as the front of the classroom or a passing road sign. However, your close-up vision is normal. The cause of myopia is that the eyeball is too long. This impairment results in light being focused in front of the retina instead of directly on it.
Myopia is considered a progressive disease; it may stay mostly the same for extended periods, or it may change rapidly, especially in children. Fortunately, myopia is easily treatable with eyeglasses or contact lenses. There are also other, newer treatments for people with myopia in order to prevent its progression known in a group as “myopia management.” This group of treatment methods includes special eye drops, orthokeratology (ortho-K), and multifocal contact lenses to help slow the progression of myopia.
Hyperopia, on the other hand, is caused by the eyeball being too short and results in the person having vision impairment when trying to focus on close-up objects. However, a person with hyperopia may see distant objects normally. For example, if you have hyperopia, you may not need corrective lenses when driving or watching TV from across the room, but you may need them when you sit down to read or use your computer. When the eye is too short, the light is focused behind the retina as opposed to directly on it (normal) or in front of it (myopia).
Treatment for hyperopia focuses on allowing your eyes to focus on close-up objects correctly. Just like myopia, the most common treatments for hyperopia are eyeglasses and contact lenses designed to correct the vision.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Both problems can be diagnosed with a simple vision exam. As part of the examination, your local optometrist may perform a refraction assessment using various instruments designed to test your vision. They may also administer eye drops that dilate your pupils to allow a better view of the inside of your eyes. Eye exams are easy and painless and allow your doctor to prescribe the lenses you need to perfect your vision.
With either condition, treatment may not be necessary at all if the symptoms are very mild. However, in most cases, people need corrective lenses because untreated myopia or hyperopia can cause problems such as headaches, eye strain, and eye fatigue. Children with myopia may experience problems at school that may be misinterpreted as learning problems; that’s why early and ongoing screening is so essential to ensure that kids have healthy eyes and correct vision. Eyeglasses and contact lenses both come in a wide variety of modalities including single vision and multifocal.
At Weston Contact Lens Institute, we see patients of all ages and can help you find the vision solutions you need. We offer comprehensive eye exams, kids’ eye exams, emergency eye care, dry eye solutions and more. Don’t hesitate to contact us for an appointment or if you have any questions or concerns.