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Myopia vs. Hyperopia: What’s the Difference?

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A young schoolgirl wearing pink headphones is sitting at a table too close to her laptop screen.

Myopia and hyperopia are 2 of the most common refractive errors that affect our vision. Refractive errors blur your vision, and if you struggle to see at certain distances, you’re likely either nearsighted or farsighted. 

Knowing the differences between these two conditions is essential to better understand your eye health.

If distant objects appear distorted while close objects are clear, it can signify myopia. However, if you can see distant objects clearly and near objects are blurry, it’s a sign of hyperopia. 

Visiting your optometrist for an eye exam can help identify the cause of your blurry vision and find a corrective prescription to provide visual clarity.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, occurs when the shape of your eye causes light rays to focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it. This results in clear near vision but blurry distance vision.

Symptoms of Myopia

Myopia or nearsightedness occurs when the eyes have trouble seeing distant objects clearly. The most common symptoms of myopia include:

  • Blurry vision when looking at distant objects
  • Squinting to see distant objects more clearly
  • Eyestrain and headaches

Causes of Myopia

Myopia can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Lifestyle

Studies have shown that children with at least one near-sighted parent are more likely to develop myopia, as this eye condition has a genetic component. Other environmental factors that contribute to myopia include prolonged near-work activities, indoor activities, low levels of outdoor physical activity, and exposure to screen-based devices from a young age.

Myopia Control

If you suspect that you or your child may have myopia, scheduling an eye exam is important. Early detection can prevent complications that arise when myopia is left untreated, such as:

  • Retinal detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts

Simple preventive measures that you can take to reduce the risk of your child developing myopia include:

  • Spending more time outdoors
  • Limiting screen time
  • Taking frequent breaks from screens or reading
  • Eating a healthy diet that includes foods high in vitamins and nutrients

Treatment Options

If you’re diagnosed with myopia, your optometrist can correct your vision with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.

In children and adolescents, myopia control methods are available to help slow the progression of myopia and preserve your child’s eyesight. Some methods include:

A mature man is holding his tablet away from his face while looking at the screen.

What Is Hyperopia?

Hyperopia, also known as farsightedness, is the opposite of myopia in that light focuses behind the retina rather than directly on it. This results in clear distance vision but blurry near vision.

Symptoms of Hyperopia

People with hyperopia can see distant objects clearly but have difficulty seeing objects up close. The symptoms of hyperopia can vary in severity depending on the degree of hyperopia and can be different for each person.

Some common symptoms of hyperopia include:

  • Blurred vision while reading or doing close-up work
  • Squinting
  • Eye strain, headaches, and fatigue

If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist. Early detection and correction are critical to maintaining healthy vision.

Causes of Hyperopia

Hyperopia occurs when light is focused behind the retina instead of on the retina, resulting in blurred vision. This condition can be caused by:

  • An abnormally shaped eyeball
  • A cornea that is too flat
  • Genetics

Hyperopia can also be caused by certain health conditions, such as diabetes, which can affect the shape and function of the eye.

Diagnosis & Treatment

During a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will perform various tests to determine if you have hyperopia. Some standard tests for hyperopia include:

  • Visual acuity test
  • Refraction test
  • Slit-lamp examination

If you are diagnosed with hyperopia, your optometrist may recommend corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses. In some cases, refractive surgery may be recommended to correct hyperopia.

Correct Your Refractive Error

Whether you have myopia or hyperopia, it is crucial to understand that both conditions are correctable with contact lenses, eyeglasses, or refractive surgery.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of myopia or hyperopia or want to understand your eye health better, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bittel Optometry’s eye care team. 

With your eye doctor’s help, you can see clearly and support healthy eyes.

Dr. Charlie Bittel

Written by Dr. Charles F. Bittel, III

Dr. Charles F. Bittel III (also known as Dr. Charlie or Dr. Bittel Junior) was introduced to the world of optometry in 1983 at his father’s graduation from optometry school. He is a graduate of Servite High School in Anaheim and received his degree in psychology from UCLA. Dr. Charlie Bittel graduated summa cum laude from the Southern California College of Optometry in 2006 and was the class salutatorian.

Dr. Charlie Bittel, owner and primary optometrist at Charles Bittel III, OD, enjoys all aspects of family eye care and is happy to see patients anywhere from 4–104 years old. In the last few years, Dr. Charlie has developed a passion in dry eye disease and myopia management and has embraced the challenge of incorporating these areas of interest into his family practice. He has also had the honor of being a part of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care’s Professional Affairs Consulting team and Speaker’s Bureau. And, most recently, he has partnered with their LipiFlow team to help fellow optometrists incorporate dry eye clinics into their practices.

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