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Nearsighted vs. Farsighted

Nearsighted vs. Farsighted

By Anna Barden 

Reviewed by Sonia Kelley, OD, MS on April 12, 2024 

Many parts of the eye must work together to achieve clear vision. Light bounces off an object and makes its way into the eye through the pupil (the black circle in the middle of the iris). It then travels to the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). If the light rays are focused directly on the retina, vision is clear. 


Sometimes, light is not focused directly on the retina but in front of or behind it, resulting in nearsightedness or farsightedness. These conditions are known as refractive errors.  


With nearsightedness, light is focused in front of the retina, causing distant objects to appear blurry. With farsightedness, the opposite is true. Light is focused behind the retina, causing nearby objects to appear blurry. 

Nearsightedness (Myopia) 

People with nearsightedness (myopia) struggle to see objects clearly from a distance. Things appear blurry from far away because light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina rather than directly on it. 


Nearsightedness can occur for a few reasons. The most common reason is that the eyeball is too long relative to the eye’s focusing power. A less common cause is that the cornea or lens is too steeply curved in relation to the length of the eye.  


For most people, nearsightedness begins in childhood. Prescription glasses can correct this problem and your prescription can be updated to keep you seeing clearly. 

Farsightedness (Hyperopia) 

Some farsighted people have trouble seeing up close while their distance (far) vision is clear. Some other hyperopes can have blurry vision at all distances. And younger people with low amounts of hyperopia can often see clearly at all distances because their flexible natural lenses can compensate for their farsightedness. 


Books, phone screens, and other objects that are held close to the face can often appear blurry to a symptomatic hyperope. These things look blurry because in hyperopia, light rays are focused behind the retina instead of directly on it.  


Farsightedness often occurs when the eyeball is too short to focus light properly on the retina. It can also occur when the curve of the cornea or lens is too flat in relation to the length of the eye. 


Most babies are farsighted at birth but do not remain farsighted as they grow. Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses can correct farsightedness for those who need it. 


Presbyopia is a refractive error that typically begins to affect your near focusing ability as you get older. It’s part of the natural aging process, and it occurs whether or not you’ve ever needed glasses.  


As you age, the crystalline lens in each of your eyes hardens, losing its flexibility. As a result, it can no longer change shape to bring things into focus. These changes can make it challenging for adults to see objects up close as they age, and they may need to hold books, phones, and other objects farther away to see them properly.  


Presbyopia can be corrected with a pair of reading glasses. If a person has other refractive errors in addition to presbyopia, progressive lenses or prescription bifocals may also be considered for correction. 


Presbyopia vs. Hyperopia 

While presbyopia and hyperopia can both affect your ability to see up close, they are different conditions with different causes.  


Hyperopia, or “regular farsightedness,” is caused by issues with the shape of the eye. It is not specifically caused by aging. On the other hand, presbyopia occurs when the eye’s natural lens begins to stiffen and become less flexible over time. It is commonly known as “age-related farsightedness.” 


Astigmatism is a refractive error that makes things seem blurry from any distance. It usually happens when the cornea is steeper in one meridian instead of perfectly round. You can have astigmatism with or without nearsightedness or farsightedness. In any case, astigmatism can be corrected with prescription glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery. 


People with astigmatism may experience blurry vision, headaches, eye strain, and the need to squint to see. 


How Can I Tell If I'm Nearsighted or Farsighted? 

You may be able to tell if you’re nearsighted or farsighted based on your symptoms, but a comprehensive eye exam is necessary to determine your refractive error.  


Nearsighted people have trouble seeing things far away. Without vision correction, nearsighted folks often squint to see street signs, chalkboards at school, and other distant objects. They may also have difficulties driving and experience headaches from straining to see things from a distance. 


Farsighted people with symptoms may struggle to see nearby objects, experiencing blurriness when trying to focus on books, phone screens, and other things up close. Farsighted people may have symptoms such as eye pain and headaches from straining to see objects up close.  


Remember, though, that some farsighted people have blur at all distances and others can see clearly at all distances. An eye doctor can determine what type of refractive error you have if you are experiencing blurry vision. 

Correcting Nearsighted and Farsighted Vision 

Both nearsightedness and farsightedness can be corrected with prescription glasses, contact lenses, and/or laser eye surgery.  


Nearsighted people wear glasses that are thinner at the center of the lens and thicker toward the edges. When you’re looking at a vision prescription, nearsighted lenses will begin with a minus sign (-).  


Farsighted people wear glasses that are more narrow toward the edges of the lens and thicker in the center. Prescriptions for farsighted lenses will begin with a plus sign (+). 

Farsighted Glasses vs. Reading Glasses 

Typically, a person with symptomatic hyperopia needs a prescription from an eye doctor to get farsighted glasses to correct their blurry vision. 


But people who only have age-related farsightedness (presbyopia) and no other refractive errors may not need a vision prescription to see up-close objects more clearly. They can often take advantage of over-the-counter, low-magnification reading glasses that can be purchased at local and online retail stores like Foster Grant. 


SEE RELATED: Discover What Reading Glasses Strength You Need  

Is Being Farsighted Better than Nearsighted? 

Farsightedness is not “better” than nearsightedness. And nearsightedness is not “better” than farsightedness. One may seem easier to deal with than the other at certain distances, but you will still need your glasses or contacts for the distances where your vision is blurry.  


At the end of the day, myopia and hyperopia are two different conditions, and fortunately, both can be corrected. Just be sure to always wear your glasses and contacts as directed by your eye doctor, especially if you need them for driving! 



READ NEXT: Best Sunglasses for Driving  



  1. Myopia vs. hyperopia: What’s the difference? All About Vision. July 2022.* 
  2. Refractive errors and refraction: How the eye sees. All About Vision. October 2019.* 
  3. Nearsighted vs. farsighted: What’s the difference? Eyebuydirect. September 2022.* 
  4. Astigmatism. All About Vision. February 2019.* 
  5. Presbyopia: What causes it and how to treat it. All About Vision. February 2019.* 
  6. Presbyopia. Cleveland Clinic. July 2023. 


The sources listed here have been provided for informational purposes only. The citation of a particular source does not constitute an endorsement or approval of EssilorLuxottica products, services, or opinions by such source.  


*Like Foster Grant, Eyebuydirect, All About Vision, and AAV Media, LLC are affiliates of EssilorLuxottica.