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Farsighted vs. Nearsighted. What’s the Difference?

Monday, June 1, 2015 @ 04:06 PM
Author: Amit Mathur

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Understanding the difference between those who are farsighted and those who are nearsighted can be a little tricky. Does farsighted mean you can see objects that are far away or does it mean you cannot see from far away? Does nearsightedness mean you can only see things close up, or do you have trouble focusing on items that are too close? Here are some simplified explanations of the two conditions so you can have a better grasp of what is going on.

The Eye

Before we go into the differences, it’s important to understand how eyes work “normally.” The retina is the part of your eye that is sensitive to light and essentially translates what you see into discernible objects; think of it like your eye is a camera and the retina is the film. It is a layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eye. When the retina catches light, it sends chemical and electrical impulses that are sent, via the optic nerve, to the visual centre of the the brain. A person with normal eyesight can see objects that are close and far away clearly. This is because light is focused directly on the retina, and not in front of it or behind it.

Farsightedness or Hyperopia

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As mentioned before, you might think that being farsighted means you cannot see far away, but it actually means something a little different. It means that you have difficulty seeing things that are close. The difference might seem like semantics, but it’s actually a very important distinction. Here’s why.

To someone who is farsighted an object that is up close will appear to be blurry. They can see objects in the distance perfectly fine, but ready a book or a map, reading instructions or recipes can be difficult.

Light falls behind the retina instead of directly on it, and this problem is typically caused by an imperfect eye, so likely genetics though sinus infections, injuries and other problems can potentially cause farsightedness. You can treat this problem by getting a prescription from your eye doctor.

Nearsightedness or Myopia

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Seeing objects from far away is difficult for someone with myopia, meaning reading books and maps are easy, but when it comes to seeing signs from far away, you need some help.

Light falls in front of your retina, instead of directly on it, causes individuals to be nearsighted. Medications, age, cataracts and of course genetics can all play a role in nearsightedness. Your eye doctor can easily prescribe corrected glasses or contact lenses to help you see things better. Depending on the cause of your nearsightedness, LASIK surgery might also be able to help fix the problem permanently for you.

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