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Myopia vs. Hyperopia: What’s the Difference?

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Myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) are two common vision problems that cause blurry vision, resulting from an irregular eye shape that does not bend light correctly. Myopia makes far-away objects look blurry, while hyperopia makes nearby objects look blurry. 

Myopia and hyperopia are refractive errors that can cause difficulties in daily life. Knowing the difference can help you explain some of your symptoms. However, adult and children’s eye exams conducted by your eye doctor are a sure way to diagnose and treat these eye conditions to provide clear vision. 

What Is Myopia & Hyperopia?

Myopia is a refractive error that results in clear near-vision but out-of-focus distant vision. Myopia is common, affecting almost 30% of the Canadian population, and usually starts in childhood and can continue until early adulthood. 

It occurs when the shape of the eye is too elongated, or the cornea is too curved, causing the light to focus in front of the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) instead of directly on it. 

Hyperopia is the opposite of myopia, where distant objects appear clear and near vision is blurry. Many people have some degree of hyperopia without realizing it, but only when it significantly affects your vision does it become a problem. 

It occurs when the length of the eyeball is too short, or the cornea is flat, causing light to focus behind the retina instead of directly on it. 

Symptoms of Myopia & Hyperopia

Blurry vision is a common symptom of myopia and hyperopia. With myopia, you may need help watching TV from far, a movie screen, seeing the writing on a whiteboard clearly, or reading street signs when driving. With hyperopia, you may have difficulty reading or doing close-up work. 

Other common symptoms of myopia and hyperopia can include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Squinting
  • Eye fatigue
  • Aching or burning

Blurry vision doesn’t always only indicate myopia or hyperopia. Some conditions, like a detached retina, cataracts, or glaucoma, can also cause blurred vision. Visit your eye doctor if you experience blurry vision or changes in your vision to rule out other underlying causes. 

A young girl wearing glasses, sitting on the ground as she points up in the air above her

Risk for Developing Refractive Errors

Anyone can get refractive errors, but you can be at a higher risk with certain factors. Hyperopia can be hereditary or result from environmental factors. Myopia can be genetic or occur spontaneously. 

Hyperopia in children may develop into crossed eyes (strabismus) if the condition isn’t diagnosed and corrected. Risk factors for myopia can include:

  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Frequent visual stress
  • Less time spent outdoors
  • More time in front of screens

How is Myopia & Hyperopia Diagnosed?

Your eye doctor can diagnose myopia and hyperopia with a routine comprehensive eye exam that examines vision and eye health. Regular eye exams are essential for monitoring changes in vision and prescription. The frequency of eye exams can depend on age, eye health, and medical history. 

During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor can conduct the following tests to diagnose myopia and hyperopia:

  • Visual acuity test
  • Refraction test
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Test to determine your prescription

Treatment for Myopia & Hyperopia

Treatment for myopia and hyperopia can depend on the severity of the condition. Treatment for moderate myopia and hyperopia usually includes corrective lenses such as:

  • Glasses: These are the simplest and safest way to correct refractive errors. For myopia management in children, there are special lenses designed for children’s eyes to slow myopia progression. 
  • Contact lenses: These sit directly on the eye and usually require a contact lens exam and fitting to verify your prescription and ensure the proper comfort and fit. 

You can consider laser eye surgery for severe cases, such as LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) or PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). For a more permanent solution to vision correction, consult your eye care professional about the risks and benefits of refractive surgery and whether or not surgical correction would be an option for you.

How to Prevent Vision Problems

Even though refractive errors can be inherited, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing myopia and hyperopia, such as:

  1. Eat healthy foods 
  2. Stay physically active 
  3. Rest your eyes throughout the day
  4. Wear sunglasses
  5. Quit smoking
  6. Spending more time outside (for myopia)

Your Solution to Healthy Vision in Red Deer

It can be frustrating and challenging to navigate daily activities such as driving, reading, or watching movies when your vision is impaired. At Red Deer Eye Care, we understand the importance of a clear vision for learning and everyday life.

If you or your child struggles with blurry vision, book an appointment for a complete eye exam and receive the appropriate treatment for your vision problems.

Written by Dr. Daryl Berger

Dr. Berger was born and raised in Red Deer. After studying at Red Deer College and the U of A, he graduated with honours from the optometry program at Waterloo in 2007. Daryl enjoys music, cars, biking, hiking, snowboarding and travel. He and his wife, Pamela, have twin boys and a dog named Gus.
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