Nearsightedness, Farsightedness, Astigmatism: How These Refractive Errors Differ

Refractive Surgery Los Angeles

The three most common types of refractive errors are nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Those who wear glasses or contact lenses usually have at least one of these conditions. In this blog, renowned ophthalmologist Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler explains the differences between these refractive errors.


Nearsightedness (myopia) is a condition where vision is crisp when viewing objects up close but becomes increasingly blurry when looking at objects in the distance.  Usually, the source of this problem is an eyeball that is slightly longer and more oval than it should be. This causes the light to focus before it reaches the retina — the layer at the back of the eye responsible for communicating with the brain. As many as 40% of Americans have nearsightedness, with distance vision continuing to get worse through their late teens.


In contrast, people with farsightedness (hyperopia) can see objects far away clearly, but vision becomes more difficult when looking at objects up close. Typically, farsightedness is the consequence of a flatter-than-normal cornea or the internal lens becoming thicker with age. This irregularity causes the incoming light to focus behind rather than on the retina, thus making vision blurrier. Up to 10% of Americans are farsighted. Most patients have this problem from birth, but only some see the condition get worse with age.


An abnormally shaped lens or cornea adversely affects the way light refracts on its way to the retina. As a result of these irregularities, an eye affected by astigmatism (like a football shaped lens) may have blurry vision when looking at objects up close or far away — and sometimes both. Some people have astigmatism in addition to myopia or hyperopia, making for a more complex vision prescription. Nearly one in three Americans have some sort of astigmatism.

Overcoming These Refractive Errors with Dr. Brian

Patients who would rather not wear prescription lenses like contacts and glasses to correct their vision have multiple options. EVO Visian ICL, Fortified LASIK, and PRK are three of the most popular surgeries Dr. Brian performs at his office in Beverly Hills, and each allows patients to reduce or eliminate their dependency on eyewear. EVO Visian ICL improves distance vision by permanently implanting a collamer lens into the eye.

LASIK and PRK reshape the cornea with advanced laser technology to ensure that incoming light refracts correctly.

To learn more about long-lasting solutions for refractive errors, schedule a consultation with Dr. Brian, America’s TV Eye Doctor™, online or by calling 310-860-1900.

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