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Learn About Nearsightedness and Farsightedness

Two of the most common vision problems are nearsightedness and farsightedness. These make it so that people can clearly see near or far things, but not both. These conditions are typically corrected by the use of prescription lenses, though if an underlying disease process is found, that will need to be treated as well. In most cases, there is no disease present and glasses or contacts are all that are required.

man getting eye exam

Similarities Between Nearsightedness and Farsightedness

Both conditions are typically caused by errors in refraction, or how the light entering the eye is focused. Farsightedness involves the light ending up focusing on a spot behind the retina, and nearsightedness involves the focal point ending up in front of the retina. These similarities make it so that variations of the same treatments often work for both conditions.

Differences Between the Two

Farsightedness, technically known as hyperopia, makes it so a patient can see far-away things well. Nearby things, however, end up blurry when seen without vision correction. This phenomenon gives it its common name – with it, you can see "far." It is a fairly common vision disorder, and about 1/4 of Americans have it.

Nearsightedness, or myopia, works opposite to farsightedness. With it, you can see "near" objects, but things at a distance will be a blur. It is easy to spot this by looking at distant road signs. If you see little more than haze at that distance, you need vision correction for this condition.

Over the last several years, there has been a spike in the percentage of people with myopia. Between 1999-2004, it is estimated that 41.6 percent of Americans had the condition. Some speculate that increased computer use is behind the increase.

Treatments

Corrective Lenses
For both near- and farsightedness, the main way of correcting the issue is to prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses. These are made in such a way as to change where the focal point of incoming light lands inside the eye so that it hits right at the retina. This provides clear vision.

Surgery
Many people, however, would rather spend their days without using corrective eyewear. This led to the development of surgical methods of correcting visual focus. LASIK and PRK are both types of surgery used for this goal.

In LASIK for myopia, a thin flap is created in the cornea. A bit of tissue is removed from the cornea before the flap is put back into position. With the older PRK surgery, the cornea is flattened without the creation of a flap.

Ortho-K
This treatment provides a bridge between the use of corrective lenses and surgery. Some people choose to avoid surgery on general principles, while others aren't good candidates for LASIK or PRK.

With ortho-k, special contact lenses are worn during sleep that gently reshape the corneas. By the time you wake up, the necessary reshaping has completed. You then pop out the lenses and enjoy clear vision all day.

Notably, ortho-k can be used by children, and is even said to slow the progression of myopia in this age group. For this reason, we at Sites Vision Clinic often recommend it for grade-schoolers when they need vision correction.

Diagnosis and Management

Both near- and farsightedness are typically diagnosed during the visual acuity portion of a comprehensive eye exam. In this type of exam, eye diseases are checked for in the next part, so there will be no need to wonder what's going on inside your eyes. Typically, no disease is present with these conditions – the cause is simply the shape of the eyeball or cornea.

Once a refractory problem is spotted, we advise you on what can be done to correct it. Typically, the solutions will be those that have been mentioned in the prior section.

After you've chosen a vision correction option, you should continue to be monitored by an optometrist in Elkton & Clarksville. This will ensure that your lens prescription remains current and as effective as possible.

To learn more about nearsightedness and farsightedness, or to schedule an appointment for an eye exam, call us at Sites Vision Clinic. We'll be glad to answer your questions and help you gain the clear vision you want!

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