Long Sightedness & Shortsightedness Explained: Signs & Treatment

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Short sightedness and long sightedness are two of the most common eyesight problems in the world. People with otherwise perfect eyesight often find themselves struggling to focus on objects depending on where they are. These two conditions affect vision in opposite ways; short sightedness means seeing nearby objects more clearly, while long sightedness means seeing distant objects more clearly. Both conditions commonly affect both children and adults and are very often detected in eye tests. They can make some daily tasks more difficult, but the good news is that there is treatment available to correct the conditions.

Unsure if you’re short sighted or long sighted? Keep reading, because we’ve broken down the causes, symptoms, and treatment for each condition.

Short sightedness versus long sightedness

What is short sightedness?

Short sightedness is also known as near sightedness or myopia. People who are short sighted have no trouble focusing on things close-up but struggle to see things at a distance. This can make some daily tasks difficult, like reading street signs or words on a whiteboard, especially in low light.
It happens because rays of light coming into the eye focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it, as they should. This can happen because the eyeball has grown slightly too long from front to back, or because the cornea is too curved. The best way to determine whether you might be prone to short sightedness is to have a 3D OCT eye scan. During this process, a 3D map of the eye is generated, and ophthalmologists can then analyse this to identify any potential issues.

Short sightedness commonly develops in early childhood and progresses in adolescence, so regular eye tests are very important. It’s a very common condition, and according to Sight Research UK, almost half of the UK population is short sighted. It’s even predicted that by 2050, five billion people (half the world’s population) will be short sighted.

There are a number of causes of short sightedness, and they include:

  • Genetics – if you have a family history of short sightedness, you are more likely to suffer from it.
  • Premature birth – children who are underweight at birth are more likely to be short sighted as they get older.
  • Ethnic background – researchers have found that certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to short sightedness than others.

You can find out more about this common condition in our guide to shortsightedness.

What is long sightedness?

Long sightedness is also known as far sightedness, hypermetropia, or hyperopia. It is essentially the opposite of short sightedness because people who are long sighted have no problems seeing things at a distance, but struggle to focus on objects that are close-up, at less than an arm’s length, for example. This makes daily tasks like reading or looking at a phone difficult.

Much like short sightedness, this is down to where rays of light are hitting the eye. With long sightedness, the light focuses behind the retina instead of exactly on it. This can happen because the eyeball might be too short, or the cornea is too flat. Undergoing an eye scan is the best way to determine if you are prone to long sightedness.

Most of us are long sighted to a certain extent. It’s normal to have difficulty focusing on objects that are too close. It’s only significant or extreme cases of long sightedness that will cause problems, because trying harder to focus on objects can cause eye strain as you begin to squint more to focus on things.

Most children are born with long sightedness, but their eyesight improves as they grow and develop. Whilst long sightedness can also be caused by genetics, it is very common to develop it as we get older. Age related long sightedness is called presbyopia and it usually develops after the age of 40. Presbyopia is not a disease; it is simply the natural progression of eye ageing. But it does mean that as it progresses, prescriptions will need monitoring. It is important to get regular eye exams to make sure you’re using the right lenses.

Can you be long sighted and short sighted at the same time?

Yes. It’s possible to have short sightedness in one eye and long sightedness in the other. This is also known as anisometropia or antimetropia. The former, anisometropia is when both eyes have different refractive power. And the latter, antimetropia, is when one eye is short sighted and the other is long sighted.
Fortunately, this is usually detected in a child’s first eye exam and can therefore be corrected if necessary. But symptoms of long-term untreated anisometropia can include double vision, blurred vision, poor depth perception, headaches, and dizziness.

How do you treat short sightedness and long sightedness?

Both short sightedness and long sightedness are types of refractive errors, meaning there are variations in their abilities to focus light. They can both easily be corrected by a professional, using prescription glasses or contact lenses that are designed to counteract the specific refractive error, or by undergoing laser eye surgery.

Treatments for short sightedness

Short sightedness can be corrected using short sighted glasses or lenses which use a concave lens that is placed in front of the eye. They are used to bend light rays slightly outwards so that they focus further back in the eye, on the retina.

Treatments for long sightedness

Long sighted glasses and lenses use a convex lens which bends light rays slightly inwards to focus on the retina, allowing the eye to see objects at a closer distance more clearly.

Both short sightedness and long sightedness are common vision conditions that can present daily challenges, especially in our screen-focused world. Fortunately, effective and safe treatments are available to help correct these refractive errors and ensure clear vision at all distances.

As both conditions can occur at different stages of life, it’s all the more crucial to get regular 3D OCT eye exams for early detection and management. If you have concerns about your vision, contact us today to speak to a professional. Alternatively, find the contact details for your local independent opticians and book an appointment online now.



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