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Myopia vs. Hyperopia: What’s the Difference?

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Clarity of vision is a cornerstone of how we experience the world, yet many people grapple with conditions that can affect it. Myopia and hyperopia are 2 of the most common refractive errors, each influencing the ability to see distant or near objects with sharpness. 

If you experience blurry vision, visit your eye doctor for an eye exam to determine whether you have myopia or hyperopia or need an updated prescription.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is when you can see close objects clearly, but distant objects are blurry. Myopia occurs when the eye is too long, or the cornea has too much curvature, causing light to focus in front of the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) rather than directly onto it. 

Myopia can influence your daily activities, ranging from reading to driving. Genetics often plays a significant role in the development of myopia. If one or both parents have myopia, it increases a child’s risk of developing myopia and progressing at a faster rate. Besides genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors such as excessive reading, screen time, or near work can contribute to its progression.

Symptoms of Myopia

For those with myopia, symptoms often develop in early childhood and progress as they grow. Children may start squinting to see the whiteboard at school and may hold books very close when reading. Children are often unaware that they may have blurry vision or a vision problem. Detecting myopia involves a comprehensive eye exam.

What Is Hyperopia?

Hyperopia, on the other hand, is farsightedness. People with hyperopia can typically see distant objects more clearly than they can see objects nearby. 

Hyperopia happens when the eyeball is too short, or the cornea has too little curvature, causing images to focus behind the retina instead of directly on it. Like myopia, hyperopia can have a genetic component and may also become more pronounced as the eye ages. 

Symptoms of Hyperopia

In hyperopia, there is an involuntary effort to maintain clear distant vision and even more effort for near vision. With blurry vision, symptoms of hyperopia can also include:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye strain
  • Discomfort
  • Headaches 
  • Difficulty in maintaining a clear focus on near objects
  • Blurred vision
  • Burning or sore eyes
  • Poor reading ability
  • General tension

A thorough eye examination is crucial for an accurate diagnosis, which might include a visual acuity test and a refraction assessment.

Treatment for Myopia & Hyperopia

Corrective lenses are the go-to solution for the majority of individuals with myopia and hyperopia. Glasses or contact lenses help alter how light enters the eye, correcting the focus onto the retina. 

Beyond lenses, surgical intervention can provide long-term solutions for refractive errors. Refractive surgeries like LASIK or PRK reshape the cornea to correct how the eye focuses light. These procedures are effective and are routinely used to address both myopia and hyperopia.

Prevention & Management of Myopia 

The prevalence of myopia continues to rise, with an estimated increase from 30% to 50% of the world’s population being myopic by 2050. In the quest to prevent myopia progression in children, balanced vision habits, prevention, and management are key. Prevention and management can include the following:

  • Taking regular breaks when focusing on close work
  • Spending more time outdoors in natural daylight
  • Limiting near work can help reduce the risk or slow the progression of myopia
  • Maintaining proper lighting and ergonomics when studying or working

Because high or severe myopia can increase a child’s risk of sight-threatening vision problems later in life, it’s important to slow myopia progression. Myopia control methods can include: 

  • Defocus lenses
  • MiSight contact lenses
  • Low-dose atropine eye drops
  • Orthokeratology lenses
A male optometrist examining the eyes of a child using a medical device to detect potential eye problems.

Prevention & Management of Hyperopia

Managing hyperopia is about working with your eyes as they change. It can involve periodic adjustments to your prescription, especially for older individuals who may notice a change in their close-up vision. Additionally, simple visual hygiene practices like good lighting and proper distance from screens can limit the strain on your eyes and keep your vision comfortable.

Protect Your Vision

We all rely on clear vision daily. But when conditions like myopia and hyperopia intervene, it can significantly impact your quality of life. Regular eye exams with your eye doctor are vital for early diagnosis and adapting treatments as your visual needs change.

By understanding the differences between myopia and hyperopia, knowing the symptoms, and exploring available treatments, you can contribute to your visual health. 

Book an appointment with Maple Ridge Eye Care for a regular eye exam or if you notice changes to your or your child’s vision. 

Written by Dr. M. Hurlbert

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