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What Is the Difference Between Myopia and Hyperopia?

Laser eye surgery can be used to correct myopia.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, can affect both children and adults.
Myopia may be caused by a person's eyeball stretching too long from front to back, or from the cornea being more curved than normal.
People with myopia have trouble seeing objects at a distance.
A person with hyperopia has difficulty seeing things close up.
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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2014
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A person with myopia can see things that are near but cannot clearly see things that are far, while a person with hyperopia can see things that are far but cannot clearly see things that are near. Myopia and hyperopia are also known as nearsightedness and farsightedness, respectively. The range of things an individual might be able to clearly see differs from person to person as either condition might be mild or severe.

Both myopia and hyperopia are refractive errors. Light that enters the eye is supposed to bend and hit the retina, the part of the eye that focuses images. A refractive error means that the eye is unable to correctly bend the light, making objects appear blurry. With myopia, the refractive error occurs when the retina is too far away for the light to reach. Just the opposite is true with hyperopia; the light reaches too far and hits behind the retina.

There are no measures that an individual might take in order to prevent myopia and hyperopia from happening. Either condition can run in families and affect anyone. In addition, sometimes hyperopia can be present in a child at birth, but when this is the case, the condition will usually go away on its own as the child grows.

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Symptoms of myopia and hyperopia are straight-forward. For myopia, things that are too far away appear blurry. For hyperopia, things that are too close are blurry. An individual with myopia or hyperopia might need to squint in order to see these blurry objects clearly. This can lead to eyestrain, which can then cause headaches.

In addition to having vision difficulties, myopia and hyperopia have connections to other medical conditions. For example, severe myopia can increase an individual’s risk of developing an eye disease known as glaucoma. In addition, retinal tear or detachment, a medical emergency that can result in vision loss, can also occur with myopia. Signs of retinal detachment include suddenly seeing flashing lights or floating spots, as well as having a partial loss of sight.

An individual with myopia or hyperopia might want to take measures that will enable him to obtain better vision. This can include undergoing an eye examination and obtaining glasses or contact lenses. In the case of myopia, he might want to consider laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) eye surgery, a medical procedure that corrects the condition.

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