Myopia vs. hyperopia: What’s the difference?
Myopia vs. Hyperopia
Myopia and hyperopia are common — but essentially opposite — types of vision problems. The biggest difference between them is where objects appear in focus. People with myopia (shortsightedness) see nearby objects more clearly. People with hyperopia (longsightedness) see distant objects more clearly.
Conversely, shortsightedness makes distant objects look blurry. Longsightedness blurs objects that are close to you. The difference between being shortsighted or longsighted is a matter of where light focuses inside the eye.
After light enters our eye through the pupil, it needs to be neatly focused on the retina in the back of the eye. When light enters the eye and does not focus properly on the retina, it causes blurry vision.
|Medical term||Myopia||Hyperopia or hypermetropia|
|What is in focus?||Close-up objects||Distant objects|
|What looks blurry?||Distant objects||Close-up objects|
|Eyeball shape (in most cases)||Too long (front to back)||Too short (front to back)|
|Where light focuses inside the eye||Too far in front of the retina||Too far past the retina|
What is nearsighted vision?
The medical term for shortsightedness is myopia. In a shortsighted eye, light focuses too far in front of the retina, instead of directly on it.
A minus lens (-) is used to correct myopia.
When light focuses in front of the retina, distant objects look blurry and nearby objects look clearer.
Shortsightedness usually develops during childhood and gets progressively worse throughout adolescence. It then stabilizes during early adulthood. Children who have progressive myopia may need specialized spectacles or contact lenses to slow the progression. This is called myopia control.
About four times as many people have myopia versus hyperopia. Approximately 40% of Americans are nearsighted, while only 5-10% are farsighted.
What is longsighted vision?
The medical term for longsightedness is hyperopia. It's the opposite of shortsightedness. Hyperopia is usually caused by an eyeball that's too short, causing light to focus behind the retina.
A positive lens (+) is used to correct hyperopia.
Longsightedness usually only makes close objects look blurry, and mild cases might not affect vision at all. In young children, the eyes’ accommodation system may be able to overcome small amounts of hyperopia.
However, high levels of hyperopia can cause objects at all distances to appear out of focus.
Most children are born with hyperopia, meaning they are longsighted at birth. Childhood hyperopia typically improves as the eyes grow and develop.
The similarities between myopia and hyperopia
Myopia and hyperopia are both types of refractive errors — slight variations in the eye that affect its ability to focus light. These variations are quite common, similar to differences in height.
Shortsightedness and longsightedness are both easily corrected with prescription spectacles or contact lenses. LASIK, PRK and other refractive surgeries can also correct refractive errors. They are good options once vision stabilizes, usually in a person’s early 20s.
If left uncorrected, the two types of refractive error can also share common signs and symptoms, including:
If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist.
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Page published on Friday, 28 June 2019
Page updated on Tuesday, 28 March 2023
Medically reviewed on Tuesday, 19 July 2022