Farsighted & Nearsighted – What do they mean? How does this affect your prescription?

Have you recently been given a diagnosis of nearsightedness or farsightedness? If so, you aren’t alone. As a matter of fact, being nearsighted or farsighted, with or without astigmatism, means that you belong to a large and distinguished group of people as these conditions, collectively known as refractive disorders, are among the most common visual disturbances experienced by Canadians. So, what exactly are refractive disorders and what can you do about them?

Nearsighted Vs. Farsighted – Here’s what you need to know

The term nearsighted, or myopia, refers to an ability to see things close up. What is happening inside your eye is that the light that is entering through the surface layer, known as the cornea, is being bent at an angle prior to reaching the retina. This means that longer light waves aren’t hitting the right spot in the back of the eye for you to be able to see far distances.

Hyperopia, which is the correct term for farsightedness, works in much the same way except the way the cornea bends the light is devastating to near vision, but far vision remains intact.

Astigmatism can occur in both conditions and acts as a distortion to the vision the person is experiencing. This means that the images that would normally have been seen clearly have a distortion to the them when astigmatism is present.

Corrective lenses work by bending the light that enters in the cornea before the cornea bends it again, thus counterbalancing the refraction error and restoring normal vision.

Understanding Your Prescription

When you have an eye exam, your doctor will determine both whether or not you have either myopia or hyperopia and to what degree. They will also determine whether or not you suffer from astigmatism. These pieces of information will then tell them what type of correction you need. It is important to remember that each eye will have its own prescription because the degree of error may be different.

Treatment Options

For most people diagnosed with a refractive error, the optician will suggest corrective lenses in the vane of glasses or contacts to help them see better. For many, glasses offer a new accessory to their wardrobe and are readily accepted. For others, glasses are just one more thing to have to pay for and keep up with. Of course, contacts are a better option for those who are afraid of damaging their glasses, but can be expensive and can cause unwanted side effects such as more frequent eye infections. And, of course, there are surgical options such as LASIK that can provide you with near perfect vision without the use of corrective lenses, which means fewer doctor’s visits and no long term commitment to purchasing glasses, contacts or other materials. But, as with any surgical procedure, those benefits don’t come without risks which can include the development of dry eye, eye infections or even a loss of existing vision. Talking with your doctor about all of your options is the best way to decide which treatment option is right for you.