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Nearsighted vs. Farsighted: What’s the Difference?

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Dr. Marc Weinstein

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Around 50% of the U.S. population is either nearsighted or farsighted. These conditions are so common that you might be able to determine which you have on your own. However, getting an eye exam to confirm the diagnosis is still important. During the exam, your doctor will recommend the best treatment and ensure you don't have any other vision issues.

Once you’ve confirmed your diagnosis, you might still have questions about what it means. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about nearsightedness and farsightedness. You’ll learn what causes each condition and how they compare. You'll also discover treatment options that can quickly fix your vision.

To understand farsighted vs. nearsighted vision, we first need to understand how our eyes work.

The vision process starts when light enters your corneas. Corneas are transparent, dome-like lenses that cover the front of your eyes. Next, the light travels to your retinas. Retinas are light-sensitive tissues at the back of your eyes that tell your brain what you’re seeing. If you have 20/20 vision, your corneas perfectly align the light so it lands directly on your retinas, letting you see clearly.

That’s how vision is supposed to work. But sometimes, things can go wrong. If you’re nearsighted, your corneas might be curved too steeply. This makes light rays converge in front of your retinas rather than directly on them, causing blurry vision. In other cases, your eyes might be oval-shaped. This also makes the light land in front of your retinas, making it hard to see clearly. On the other hand, farsightedness occurs if your corneas are too flat or if your eyes are shorter than usual from front to back. In either case, light rays converge behind the retinas, again causing blurry vision.

Nearsightedness and farsightedness are two types of refractive errors. Although they’re somewhat similar, these conditions cause different vision problems. We’ll go over the symptoms of both conditions next.

What is Nearsightedness?

If you’re nearsighted, up-close objects appear clearer than distant objects. For example, you might have sharp vision when reading a book, but blurry vision when looking at a TV screen.

How Can You Tell If You Are Nearsighted?

These are the most common nearsighted symptoms:

  • Distant objects appearing too blurry
  • Often squinting your eyes
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain or fatigue
  • Decreased ability to see in dim lighting

Many people discover they’re nearsighted when distant objects appear blurrier than normal. However, nearsighted symptoms vary from person to person. Talk to your doctor if you often experience any nearsighted symptoms.

What is Farsightedness?

If you’re farsighted, distant objects appear clearer than up-close objects. For example, a TV screen might look clear while the words in a book appear blurry.

How Can You Tell If You Are Farsighted?

These are the most common farsighted symptoms:

  • Up-close objects appearing too blurry
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain or fatigue
  • Difficulty reading
  • Poor depth perception

The most common farsightedness symptom is blurry vision when looking at up-close objects. However, symptoms vary from person to person. Talk to your doctor if you often experience any farsighted symptoms.

How Do Nearsightedness And Farsightedness Compare?

Nearsightedness and farsightedness are two distinct conditions, but there are some key similarities:

  • Both conditions cause blurry vision
  • You can treat both conditions with corrective lenses
  • Both conditions can cause headaches and eye strain

Despite these similarities, there are also some key differences:

  • Nearsighted vision makes distant objects appear blurry
  • Farsighted vision makes up-close objects appear blurry
  • Nearsightedness is caused by an elongated eye or a too-steep cornea
  • Farsightedness is caused by a too-short eye or a flatter cornea

How to Treat Nearsightedness & Farsightedness

Nearsightedness and farsightedness are very common and easily treatable. These are the three most popular and effective options:

Glasses: Glasses redirect light rays before they enter your eyes. This ensures the light properly hits your retinas. Glasses are the most common treatment option — and for good reason. They’re easy to use and they quickly give you clear eyesight. Plus, they look good! 39DollarGlasses has a huge variety of eyeglasses so you can see clearly in style.

Contacts: Contacts are another easy, low-effort way to fix your eyesight. Like glasses, they work by redirecting light so it reaches your retinas. 39DollarGlasses partners with Online Contacts so you can order contact lenses and get them shipped straight to your door!

LASIK: LASIK is a less common treatment option. During the procedure, a surgeon uses a laser to reshape your corneas so light can properly reach your retinas. The process usually takes less than 30 minutes, and most people experience clear vision within 1 week of the procedure.

39DollarGlasses Is Here To Help

39DollarGlasses is here to help if you still have questions about nearsightedness or farsightedness! We don’t just sell glasses — as a doctor-run company, we’re here to guide you in all things eye health. Contact our team to learn more about your prescription and get expert advice on treatment options. We can even help you choose the best glasses for your lifestyle. From sporty and durable to stylish and modern, we’ve got affordable glasses for everyone. Check out our newest arrivals and order your perfect pair today!

Nearsighted vs Farsighted FAQs

Is It Rarer To Be Nearsighted or Farsighted?

It’s rarer to have farsighted vision. About 40% of Americans are nearsighted, while around 10% are farsighted. No matter which condition you have, you can treat it with glasses or contacts.

Can You Be Nearsighted and Farsighted?

You can be nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other —but you can’t have both conditions in the same eye. This condition is called antimetropia. It’s very rare, but it’s easily treatable with glasses or contacts.

What’s the Difference Between Being Nearsighted or Farsighted and Having Astigmatism?

Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are all refractive errors. However, astigmatism is unique because it causes light to hit multiple parts of your eye rather than focusing on a single point. This happens when the cornea is curved unevenly. Like nearsighted and farsighted vision, you can treat astigmatism with glasses or contacts.

Are Reading Glasses for Nearsightedness or Farsightedness?

Reading glasses usually treat presbyopia, which is different from nearsightedness and farsightedness. Presbyopia commonly occurs with age. As eyes get older, their lenses can become thicker and less flexible, causing blurry up-close vision. This is similar to nearsightedness. However, most people with nearsighted vision need specialized glasses to wear all day. People with presbyopia only wear glasses while reading.