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Are You Nearsighted or Farsighted?

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EyeQue Team

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November 9, 2017


Refractive errors are one of the most common and correctable causes of visual impairment in the U.S. They occur when the eye cannot focus light properly on the retina. Nearly 42% of Americans ages 12-54 are nearsighted (myopia), an increase from 25% percent in 1971. Farsightedness (hyperopia) is far less common, impacting just 5-10% of people in the U.S. Both of these are refractive errors – a person who is nearsighted can see close objects clearly but has more difficulty seeing distant objects. A person who is farsighted can see distant objects clearly but has problems seeing close objects.

Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball is too long from front to back, or when the cornea (clear front cover of the eye) is steeply curved. As a result, the light entering the eye focuses in the front of the retina (light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye), instead of on its surface. In about 10% of people with myopia, the condition progresses in severity. Signs of myopia include:

  • Difficulty reading road signs or distant objects clearly
  • Poor performance in school
  • Squinting
  • Eye Strain
  • Headaches
  • Tired eyes when driving or playing sports
  • Sitting closer to the television, movie or computer screen
  • Rubbing eyes or blinking frequently (children)


Farsightedness (Hyperopia)

Farsightedness occurs when the eyeball is too short from front to back, the cornea is not curved enough, or the lens sits farther back in the eye than normal. In result, light entering the eye focuses behind the retina, rather than directly on its surface. Farsightedness impacts many infants at birth, however, they grow out of it and far more children end up nearsighted due to environmental factors. Signs of farsightedness include:

  • Difficulty performing tasks like sewing or reading
  • Blurred vision, especially at night
  • Aching eyes
  • Eyestrain
  • Rubbing eyes or blinking frequently (children)

Measuring Visual Acuity and Refractive Errors

Visual acuity is performed at the beginning of an eye exam using a standardized Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Progressively small letters are read, one eye at a time, until you can no longer clearly distinguish them. “Normal” or 20/20 vision means you can clearly read specific letters from 20 feet away. If you have 20/40 vision, this means you can read letters from 20 feet that most people see clearly when they are 40 feet away. The EyeQue Insight is a new at-home visual acuity screener that allows anyone ages 6 and above to check the clarity of vision in under 3 minutes. This number only indicates visual acuity, so a different measuring device is required to obtain a prescription correction.

The EyeQue Insight Visual Acuity Device

Refractive Error Test

A device called a phoropter or refractor is a quick means of determining the refractive error to obtain a prescription. The device contains lenses of different strengths which are moved into the patient’s view. The eye doctor asks which of the two combinations of lenses looks clearer until the best correction is found for each eye. The EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker lets you obtain the same spherical, cylindrical, and axis figures your eye doctor uses to generate a prescription. The Personal Vision Tracker measures the amount of correction needed for light to focus correctly on your retina.

What Do All These Numbers Mean?

You have a piece of paper with mysterious numbers and abbreviations, indicating your eyeglass or contact lens prescription, however, you have no idea what this means. A diopter is a standard unit of measurement on eyeglass prescriptions. A negative diopter number specifies nearsightedness. A positive number indicates farsightedness. A diopter designates how powerful a lens is needed to properly focus light on a person’s retina. Many people have astigmatism in addition to myopia or hyperopia. In astigmatism, the cornea has a curvature imperfection, or the lens is distorted, resulting in both near and far objects appearing blurry.

  • O.D. represents the right eye
  • O.S. represents the left eye
  • Spherical: the measurement in diopters to correct for nearsightedness and farsightedness
  • Cylindrical: the measurement in diopters to correct for astigmatism
  • Axis: indicates where astigmatism is located along the horizontal axis of the eye
  • ADD or N.V. is used for bifocal/progressive lenses

New Product: VisionCheck

VisionCheck is our second generation Personal Vision Tracker. You can test refractive error and order glasses online with the results. Updates include Bluetooth automation, enhanced optics, and a new PDCheck feature that allows you to measure your PD within seconds. To learn more about our new product please click here. 

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