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Myopia vs. Hyperopia: What’s the Difference?

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An older adult woman squinting and holding her phone further to see its contents better.

Myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) represent two types of refractive errors that influence our perception of the environment, altering how we view the world. Despite both being refractive errors, their impacts on our vision are distinct. 

Essentially, myopia leads to blurred vision when looking at distant objects, whereas hyperopia causes objects close by to appear blurry. They stem from similar causes but affect vision in opposite ways. The presence of either condition can greatly affect someone’s ability to see with clarity. 

Recognizing the differences between these conditions is essential for effective eye care management. If you suspect that you or your family members might be experiencing symptoms related to myopia or hyperopia, consulting with your eye care professional at Total Focus Optometry and obtaining an eye exam can provide valuable insights and guidance.

What is Myopia?

Myopia, commonly referred to as nearsightedness, is a vision condition where distant objects become blurry while close objects remain clear. This happens because the shape of the eyeball is elongated, or the cornea and lens have too much curvature, preventing light from focusing correctly on the back of the retina. Myopia is often influenced by genetic factors and typically starts to appear in childhood or teenage years.

What is Hyperopia?

Hyperopia, known as farsightedness, is a common refractive error impacting the ability to see nearby objects clearly, while distance vision remains unaffected. This condition arises when the eyeball is shorter than normal or when the cornea and lens lack sufficient curvature, causing light to focus behind the retina instead of clearly on it. 

Hyperopia can manifest at any age, but its symptoms might not be noticeable until adulthood. Children with hyperopia, who only undergo basic vision screenings at school, may not be diagnosed early since they can manage to see distant objects clearly, leaving their issues with near vision unaddressed.

Essential Distinctions Between Myopia & Hyperopia

The key distinctions between myopia and hyperopia encompass several aspects:

  • Vision blur occurs at varying distances. With myopia, it’s the far-off objects that appear blurry. Conversely, hyperopia impacts the clarity of objects that are near.
  • The point where light converges varies significantly. A fundamental difference between the two conditions is where light is focused relative to the retina. In cases of myopia, light converges in front of the retina, whereas, in hyperopia, light is focused behind the retina.
  • The anatomical changes in the eye differ between myopia and hyperopia. Typically, an elongated eyeball characterizes myopia, whereas a shorter eyeball is a hallmark of hyperopia.

Indicators of Myopia & Hyperopia

While both myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) lead to blurred vision, the distinction lies in the distance at which this occurs. Additionally, they can manifest through several other overlapping symptoms that might indicate a vision problem in children, including:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Squinting to see clearly
  • Eye fatigue or discomfort

Changes in behaviour concerning how children interact with visual stimuli, such as the tendency to hold screens very close or to keep them unusually far away, could also signal the presence of myopia or hyperopia. Paying attention to these shifts in habits related to vision can aid in identifying early signs of these refractive errors.

Essentially, myopia leads to blurred vision when looking at distant objects, whereas hyperopia causes objects close by to appear blurry. They stem from similar causes but affect vision in opposite ways. The presence of either condition can greatly affect someone's ability to see with clarity.

Treatment Options For Myopia & Hyperopia

The primary methods for correcting myopia and hyperopia include the use of prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, and undergoing refractive surgery. Both eyeglasses and contact lenses correct vision by adjusting the direction light rays enter the eye, leading to improved clarity. Refractive surgery, such as LASIK, aims to permanently alter the shape of the cornea to correct the refractive error.

Managing Myopia

For managing myopia, standard solutions involve prescription eyewear. Yet, advancements have introduced orthokeratology (night-wear corneal reshaping lenses) among other myopia management techniques, gaining traction for their effectiveness.

These myopia management methods are designed to slow the progression of myopia in children, preventing further deterioration of vision. With a variety of myopia control options available, including specialized contact lenses, it’s possible to create a customized management plan that suits the specific needs of your child.

Which Is More Prevalent, Myopia or Hyperopia?

Myopia is more prevalent globally than hyperopia, affecting nearly 30% of Canadians. Recent studies indicate that the incidence of myopia is increasing, especially among children and young adults. Factors contributing to this rise include increased screen time, less time spent outdoors, and genetic predispositions. In contrast, hyperopia is less common and tends to be more prevalent in younger children and then can decrease as the eye develops.

Strategies For Preventing & Handling Myopia & Hyperopia

Although genetic predispositions play a significant role in the onset of myopia and hyperopia, lifestyle factors are also scrutinized for their potential impact on these vision conditions.

Particularly for myopia, studies are focusing on the relationship between screen time, outdoor activities, and the risk of developing this condition during childhood. To potentially mitigate or control these vision issues, practices such as ensuring ample time spent outdoors, scheduling regular eye examinations, and limiting extended exposure to digital screens are recommended.

MiSight 1-Day Contact Lenses for Children

MiSight 1-day contact lenses are tailor-made for young wearers. These contacts offer the convenience of daily disposal and the added benefit of potentially slowing down myopia progression. Children can experience enhanced vision clarity, providing peace of mind to parents about their child’s eye health.

Miyosmart Glasses Lenses

Miyosmart glasses lenses can decelerate myopia progression by up to 60%. They seamlessly integrate with standard eyeglass frames, ensuring no compromise in style choices. Beyond improving vision, these lenses come with anti-reflective properties, are simple to maintain, and boast high durability.

Atropine Eye Drops

Atropine eye drops are an adjunct therapy to glasses or contacts for managing myopia. Typically applied at night, these drops are straightforward to use and aim to slow the advancement of myopia. Though they cannot fully reverse the condition, they are an effective measure in controlling its progression.

Seek Assistance For Myopia & Hyperopia

Corrective measures for both myopia and hyperopia include eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery, with the best choice depending on individual health conditions and age. Regular eye exams are important to keep track of eye health and determine the most suitable treatment option for you.

It’s important to maintain proper eye care and consult with an optometrist or an eye care specialist should you notice any changes in your vision. Total Focus Optometry is here to support you in achieving clear vision. Reach out to us to schedule your upcoming appointment!

Written by Dr. Craig M

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