Many people have trouble understanding the difference between being nearsighted vs. farsighted and what those differences mean to their vision, eyeglass options, and possible future issues. There are several differences between being nearsighted and being farsighted, as these are two different vision problems. Nearsightedness is called myopia, and farsightedness is known as hyperopia. The main biological difference in the two is that in myopia, the images seen are focused in front of the retina, rather than directly on the retina. In hyperopia, the images are focused behind the retina, rather than on top of it.

Nearsighted vs. Farsighted: How Each Affects Your Vision

If you have myopia, or are nearsighted, things that are closer to you are clearer, while things that are farther away appear blurry. You may begin to notice that you have to squint to see street signs, the TV screen, or a picture hanging across a room. You may also have trouble reading the blackboard at school or the computer screen at work. Nearsightedness runs in families and usually begins in childhood or the teen years. It tends to grow worse fairly steadily until the 20s, when it begins to stabilize somewhat. [1]

If you have hyperopia, or are farsighted, you may have to hold a book further away to read it, have trouble reading labels or fine print on medicines, or find that a billboard down the street is easier to read than the one right next to your car. [1]

Because farsightedness is caused by the lens of the eye being too short, children often outgrow mild farsightedness once their eyes mature to adult size. Between birth and five years of age, the volume of your eye nearly doubles and it elongates by as much as a third of its size at birth. [2]

Both conditions can be frustrating and can interfere a great deal with your work, school, or driving safety as well as your quality of life. Continuing to live with uncorrected vision, whether you’re nearsighted or farsighted, will often lead to headaches and eye strain. Also, if you neglect to correct the problem with the proper eyeglasses or contacts, your vision will deteriorate more quickly. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, you should see an optometrist quickly to have a thorough eye exam. [1]

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Nearsighted vs. Farsighted: How Are They Corrected?

Both nearsightedness and farsightedness can be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses, and often LASIK or laser refractive surgery. [2]

Being nearsighted vs. farsighted doesn’t necessarily determine what kind of glasses you can wear or whether you can wear contacts. You can choose either one, as long as your optometrist feels that you’re a good candidate for contacts. This is based on eye shape and astigmatism, for the most part.

Choosing the right kind of glasses for you or deciding between contacts and glasses will depend more on your lifestyle, such as how active you are in sports, whether you feel comfortable with contacts or eyeglasses, or how you feel about your appearance while wearing eyeglasses. As long as your optometrist approves either choice, the decision will be a personal one. [2]