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Nearsighted vs. Farsighted: Which Is More Common?

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A mid-age male is working at his office desk and looking at his computer screen so closely while holding his eyeglasses

Vision enables us to see the world around us and helps us appreciate its beauty and complexities. However, many people have refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, that interfere with their vision.

Nearsightedness and farsightedness are 2 of the most common vision problems, but which one is more common?

Studies show that nearsightedness is more common than farsightedness. It’s estimated that 30% of people worldwide suffer from nearsightedness.

When it comes to diagnosing these common refractive errors, it’s important to have regular eye exams to help keep your vision at its best.

What Is Nearsightedness?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common vision problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It typically begins in childhood and can worsen into early adulthood.

Myopia is distinguished by the ability to see objects up close clearly while seeing objects at a distance as blurry due to the shape of the eye.

Nearsighted people have an elongated eyeball, which causes light to focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it. Additionally, nearsightedness can be caused by:

  • Genetics
  • Excessive close-up work


Although the exact cause by which myopia is inherited is still unknown, several studies have shown that genetic factors can play a significant role in its development.

Children are more likely to develop myopia if one or both parents are nearsighted. Genetics, however, is only one piece of the puzzle.

Excessive Close-up Work

When we do close-up work, our eyes need to work hard to stay focussed on a near object for extended periods of time. Similar to when our muscles get tired after repeated over-exertion, this repeated stress on the eyeball can cause accommodative fatigue, resulting in myopia. 

Lower Your Risk for Myopia

Spending more time outdoors has been shown to lower your risk of developing myopia. The exact reason why is unknown, but several theories have been proposed:

  • One theory is that exposure to sunlight may help regulate the release of dopamine, a chemical messenger in the eye that helps regulate eye growth and prevent eye elongation, which can lead to myopia.
  • Another theory is that outdoor lighting contains a higher proportion of short-wavelength light. This light may aid in regulating eye growth and preventing eye elongation, which can lead to myopia.
  • Lastly, outdoor sports and other physical activities can also provide a break from close work like reading or using a computer, which has also been linked to an increased risk of developing myopia.
A man at the library is holding a book a bit far from him while reading.

What Is Farsightedness?

Have you ever struggled to read up close or perform tasks that require close focus while seeing distant objects clearly? If this is the case, you may be farsighted, which has the opposite effect of nearsightedness.

Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia, is a widespread vision disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the eye is too short, or the cornea is too flat, causing light to focus behind the retina rather than on it directly. 

Farsightedness can cause symptoms such as:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision

Although 2 parents who aren’t farsighted can have a farsighted child, severe farsightedness is usually inherited.

It’s important to take your children to their optometrist for regular eye exams so that childhood eye conditions can be detected and treated early.

Treating Nearsightedness & Farsightedness

Nearsightedness and farsightedness aren’t curable, but they can typically be controlled or managed with:

  • Glasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Refractive eye surgery

Managing myopia is essential in slowing the progression of this refractive error, especially during the critical period of eye development in childhood.

Glasses & Contact Lenses

Correcting myopia and hyperopia with glasses and contact lenses is a common and effective method. Both work by modifying how light enters the eye, allowing clear image transmission to the brain.

Glasses are fitted with prescription lenses to correct the individual’s specific refractive error. They are worn on the nose and ears and provide excellent vision at all distances.

Contact lenses, on the other hand, are worn directly on the eye’s surface and offer a hands-free solution. Both glasses and contact lenses can be made to order with the correct prescription to meet the needs of each individual.

Because prescriptions can change over time, regular eye exams with your doctor are required to help ensure that your vision correction remains current.

Refractive Eye Surgery

Another option for correcting myopia and hyperopia is refractive eye surgery. The purpose of this surgery is to reshape the cornea, the clear front part of the eye, to focus light on the retina.

Two common refractive surgery procedures are LASIK and PRK. Both use modern laser technology to alter the shape of the cornea, reducing or eliminating the need for glasses or contact lenses.

To determine if refractive surgery is right for you, you should discuss the potential benefits and risks with your eye doctor.

Book an Eye Exam

Whether you have nearsightedness or farsightedness, it’s important to take steps to keep your vision healthy and correct any problems that arise. Booking a regular eye exam with Pack & Baines Optometry Terra Nova is an essential part of the process.

Written by Total Vision

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