The Differences Between Nearsightedness and Farsightedness

Like astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness are both problems in how our eyes focus the light on the retina. Doctors call them refractive conditions that affect how the light enters the eyes will cause us to see the blurred objects in our surroundings. However, there is a difference in how we perceive objects at certain distances.

Nearsightedness or Myopia

Nearsightedness, also called myopia or shortsightedness, is a condition characterized by the ability to see objects at a closer proximity more clearly than objects that are placed further. To a person with myopia, the nearer objects appear normal because the eyeball is elongated, causing the light to form at the front of the retina instead of on it. Reading books will pose no problems, but you will have a difficult time making out what’s written on a billboard. Myopia also causes night blindness, meaning, you’ll find it more difficult to see objects in minimal lighting.

The condition may be caused by malformations in the eyes, aging, cataracts, or as a side effect of some drugs. Like all refractive problems, myopia is diagnosed by an ophthalmologist through extensive eye examinations. An individual is usually advised to wear corrective lenses to improve the vision.

Farsightedness or Hyperopia

Farsightedness, also called hyperopia or hypermetropia, is the opposite of myopia, which is characterized by the ability to see objects at a distance more clearly than those that are closer to you. The light coming through the eyes forms behind the retina instead of on it and is often caused by the shortness of the eyeballs, a flat cornea or the irregular curvature of the lens. These eye problems may be inherited or a consequence of injuries, migraine attacks, and even sinus infection.

Hyperopia is diagnosed by an ophthalmologist through an extensive eye exam and the individual may be advised to wear corrective lenses to improve vision. Some types of nearsightedness also need surgery, such as the removal of a layer of the cornea to correct the problem.


Astigmatism is also a refractive error that prevents the eyes from focusing the light into the retina, causing multiple focal points. The result is a blurred vision regardless of the distance of the object. It could be a combination of myopia and hyperopia in some individuals.

The most common methods in testing a person’s vision is with a Snellen Test Chart, retinoscopy, and automated computerized tools. Besides prescription corrective lenses, the individual might also want to consider procedures designed to correct the curvature of the retina such as, radial keratotomy, automated lamellar keratectomy, excimer laser photo refractive keratectomy, and LASIK.