Blurred vision can be extremely frustrating. Whether you can’t see the book in your hands, or can’t read a billboard on the road, not being able to see clearly has a major impact on your life. In order to find a prescription for glasses or contact lenses, you and your eye doctor must first determine what problem is leading to your blurry vision.
There are many ways that you can have trouble seeing. You might have trouble seeing things up close, trouble seeing things that are far away, or you may struggle to see both. Regardless, there is a solution out there to help you see more clearly and improve your quality of life. Read on below to find out more about these different conditions, their causes, and treatments.
Nearsightedness refers to a condition in which your eyes have trouble seeing things that are far away. You should be able to comfortably read a book, see the computer screen, or see things a few feet from your face. However, things further than that will appear blurry or distorted, making it hard to read signs, play sports, or recognize people’s faces across the room.
This condition occurs when the light entering your eye through the cornea and lens is somewhat scattered and is not focused on the retina like it should be. This causes the blurriness which you see. Depending on how severe your nearsightedness is, you may be unable to differentiate objects far away or may only see vague shapes and colors.
Farsightedness is the opposite of nearsightedness as the name suggests. If you have this condition, you should be able to see things far away, but up-close tasks like reading and writing may be blurry. Many people are born farsighted, but eventually outgrow it as their eyes change. However, it can return over time, leaving many middle-aged and older individuals with trouble seeing things up close.
Like nearsightedness, farsightedness is caused by an improper projection of light entering the eye. For those with hyperopia, the light is sent beyond the retina, making nearby things look unfocused.
There is also a third vision problem that can make things both near and far look blurry and out of focus. It is known as an astigmatism. It can be a congenital (born with) condition or develop later in life. Like the two conditions above, the problem results from an incorrect curvature in the lens or cornea that causes light to hit the retina improperly. Individuals suffering from astigmatism have trouble seeing things up-close, but also have trouble seeing things that are far away. This condition is often related to genetics but can occur because of other triggers like post-eye-surgery.
What Are The Non-Vision Symptoms Of These Conditions?
Individuals struggling with vision problems often experience an array of other side-effects due to the blurry vision. These can include:
- Frustration or anxiety over eyesight
- Eye strain / squinting
Can I Be Both Farsighted And Nearsighted?
Unfortunately, yes. Both of your eyes can be either nearsighted, farsighted, or a mixture of both. Since both eyes can have opposite problems, this can lead to a person having vision problems both up close and far away. This is a condition known as anisometropia and occurs when the eyes have unequal or opposing refractive power. More commonly, a person with astigmatism thinks that they have both conditions when, in reality, the astigmatism is simply distorting both types of vision.
How Are Vision Problems Diagnosed?
The first step in diagnosing what is negatively affecting your vision is taking a trip to the eye doctor. He or she will perform a series of tests that help to determine whether you are near or farsighted or whether you have an astigmatism. A full eye exam also serves as a way to check up on your overall eye health and catch any potential problems early before they can become worse. Two common eye tests used to determine your diagnosis include:
Visual acuity assessment test: This is the fancy name of the famous “Big E” chart that you have surely seen at some point. Letters at the top of the chart are large and get progressively smaller. You’ll be asked to read them at a certain distance to determine how well you can see the letters.
Refraction test: This test uses a large mask-like device which is placed in front of the eyes called an optical refractor. It has many glass lenses of different strengths that can be swapped out in front of the eye. Your eye doctor will have you read a chart of letters through the different lenses to determine what lens strength properly corrects your vision.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Fortunately, in most cases, treatment of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism is fairly simple. The most common treatment is a prescription from your eye doctor for glasses or contact lenses. You’ll need a separate prescription for each since they will differ slightly because of their position in relation to your eye. These treatments offer a convenient, painless way of correcting your vision by refracting the light as it enters your eye so it hits the retina properly.
For a more permanent solution, you could opt for a LASIK vision correction surgery. Surgeons use precision lasers to reshape the cornea of your eye so that it naturally focuses light on the retina and erases blurry vision. Not everyone is a candidate for the surgery though, so be sure to ask your doctor.
Understanding Your Prescription
Getting a prescription to correct your near or farsightedness can be very confusing. Especially if you are new to it, the seemingly random numbers and symbols may look like a foreign language.
Let’s break down that prescription piece by piece:
First there are the letters O.D. and O.S. These refer to your right and left eye respectively.
Next, a number in diopters, refers to the strength of a lens needed to focus the images you see. A negative number here means you are nearsighted while a plus number means that you are farsighted. The more negative or more positive the number, the worse your vision is. The standard measurement of clear vision is 20/20.
After that number comes another number, again in diopters. This one measures the strength needed to correct your astigmatism. There is a number for each eye as they may be different.