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Myopia and Hyperopia

Myopia (nearsightedness) is the most common eye condition in the U.S., with close to half the population suffering from it. Myopia is characterized by the inability to see distant objects. Doctors believe myopia is so prevalent because of extended computer use and a genetic predisposition to the condition. Hyperopia (farsightedness) is not far behind, with one in four being diagnosed. Hyperopia is characterized by the inability to focus on close objects. Both conditions are refractive errors of the eye that cause objects to appear out of focus at different length scales.

If you are myopic, reading and using a computer may be easy but driving or playing sports may be more difficult. While participating in these activities you may experience eyestrain and squinting. If untreated, myopia can lead to headaches and fatigue when straining your eyes for a long period of time. If you are hyperopic, you experience similar symptoms when doing work at close range.

The retina is a collection of sensory tissue in the back of the eye. The job of the eye is to focus the incoming light onto this area. The length of the eyeball, curvature of the cornea, and evenness of the lens all affect the eyes ability to properly focus an image. If any of these do not have the proper proportions, then light entering the eye will be unfocused and objects will appear blurry.

If the eye is too long, the light reaches it focal point before reaching the retina. This also occurs if the lens is too curved. This would cause myopia. If the eye is too short, there is not enough distance for the light to reach its focal point. This will also occur if the lens of the eye is not curved enough. This would cause hyperopia. In either case, light will not be properly focused onto the retina, and blurred vision will occur.

If you seem to have trouble observing objects at certain distances, a trip to an eye doctor is required. He or she will perform a test called refraction. A medical instrument performs automated refraction. It is a camera that can determine the measurements of your eye. This is normally followed by manual refraction. This is a more subjective test used to fine-tune the details of your eyes. Your doctor will provide you with a series of lenses and ask which one provides the clearest vision.

After this test, your doctor will be able to provide an eyeglass prescription. Using this information, your doctor can also prescribe you contact lenses after a fitting. If you’re myopic, your PWR will precede with a minus sign. If you’re hyperopic, a positive sign. Eyeglasses and contacts work to counteract the defects in your eye to better focus light.

LASIK surgery can also help counteract the effects of refractive errors by changing the cornea of your eye. More advanced surgery may be necessary if errors are progressing quickly. However, in most people myopia and hyperopia are minor inconveniences and can be treated effectively with prescription eyewear.