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Nearsighted vs. Farsighted Lenses: Which Type of Lenses Do You Need?

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 29, 2024

It is estimated that over 2.3 billion people globally experience poor eyesight due to uncorrected refractive error. Refractive errors refer to vision problems when light does not bend properly as it passes through the eye. Two common types of refractive errors are nearsighted and farsighted, which can cause blurry vision.

However, with so many different types of lenses available, it can be overwhelming for most people to determine which type of lenses they need to correct their vision. That's why we are here to help.

In this article, we will guide you through a comparison for selecting nearsighted vs. farsighted lenses so you can achieve the best possible vision correction.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a vision problem where objects close to you are easy to see, but objects far away appear blurry. In contrast, farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a vision condition where distant objects appear clearer than close ones.
  • Nearsightedness occurs when the eye is elongated or oval-shaped rather than round, leading to the focal point of light rays falling in front of the retina. On the other hand, farsightedness occurs when the eyeball is too short, causing the light rays to fall beyond the retina.
  • Myopia is known to run in families, and a simple eye examination can verify the presence of this condition. Unlike nearsightedness, hyperopia isn't always hereditary; it may also develop with age or be influenced by factors like eye injuries or surgeries.
  • Nearsightedness typically develops in childhood and adolescence, becoming more stable between 20 and 40. However, farsightedness is more common in people over 40 and can worsen with age.
  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses are effective solutions for correcting both nearsightedness and farsightedness. Nearsightedness is corrected with concave lenses that are thinner in the center and thicker at the edges, while farsightedness is corrected with convex lenses that are thicker in the center and thinner at the edges.
  • Refractive surgeries like LASIK or PRK can, in certain instances, correct nearsightedness and farsightedness. However, these procedures are not suitable for everyone, and they carry certain risks and complications.
  • Regular eye exams are crucial for monitoring potential vision issues, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness. Early detection and treatment can prevent further eye damage and improve the quality of life.
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1. Overview

Vision is essential to our lives, allowing us to see the world around us. However, many people experience visual impairments that can affect their daily activities, such as reading, driving, and watching TV. Two of the most common vision problems people experience are nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Nearsightedness

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a vision problem where objects close to you are easy to see, but objects far away appear blurry. This condition usually occurs when the eye is either too long or oval-shaped instead of being round.

Sometimes, it may also be caused by the cornea being excessively curved. These changes cause light rays to focus in front of the retina and cross over, resulting in unclear messages sent to the brain. In the US, it is estimated that myopia affects 41.6% of the population.

The condition typically develops in childhood and adolescence, becoming more stable between 20 and 40. Myopia is known to run in families, and a simple eye examination can verify the presence of this condition.

Farsightedness

Farsightedness, referred to as Hyperopia, is a vision condition where distant objects appear clearer than close ones. This affects approximately 10% of the US population, equivalent to about 14 million individuals. In the normal eye, light enters and focuses on the retina, located at the rear of the eye. The retina then sends images to the brain through the optic nerve.

However, in hyperopia, the eyeball is too short, causing the light rays to fall beyond the retina, resulting in blurry vision. Another cause of farsightedness is an abnormal shape of the cornea, which is the clear front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber. Light can focus behind the retina if the cornea is not curved enough, leading to farsightedness.

2. Types of Lenses

You may require corrective lenses if you experience vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. In this section, we will explore the various types of lenses that are available to correct these issues.

Nearsighted Lenses

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is a common refractive error that affects the ability of the eye to see objects clearly at a distance. It occurs when the eyeball is too long, or the cornea is too curved. Fortunately, different types of lenses can correct this vision problem, including:

  • Concave lens: Concave lenses, referred to as "minus lenses," have a thinner center and a thicker edge. They function to diverge light rays that enter the eye. As a result, the light rays focus further back, landing precisely on the retina, giving the brain a clear image. Research has proven that concave lenses effectively diverge light rays and create virtual images.
  • Multi-focal Lenses: These lenses come in different types, including bifocals, trifocals, or progressives, and they are effective in improving distance vision and slowing down myopia progression. Research suggests that multifocal lenses can reduce the rate of myopia progression by as much as 43%.
  • Contact Lenses: Contact lenses are thin and small lenses placed on the eyes to correct vision. They come in various types, including soft, rigid, gas-permeable, and hybrid lenses. Soft contact lenses have been found to reduce myopia progression by 60%.
  • High-Index Lenses: These lenses are recommended for people with high levels of nearsightedness (greater than -3.00 diopters) as they are thinner and lighter than traditional lenses.

Farsighted Lenses

Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia, is a common vision problem that affects many people. Fortunately, there are specialized lenses available to correct this condition, and these include:

  • Convex Lenses: Commonly used in eyeglasses to correct hyperopia by converging light. Effectively brings distant objects into focus for individuals with farsightedness.
  • Bifocal Lenses: Bifocal lenses have two distinct optical powers for near and far vision. Ideal for individuals with both farsightedness and presbyopia. Offers a convenient solution for addressing multiple vision issues in a single lens.
  • CR-39: CR-39 lenses are ideal for mild to moderate hyperopia correction. They offer clear and crisp vision and are suitable for prescriptions around +1.00.
  • High-Index Lenses: Recommended for individuals with higher hyperopic prescriptions, aiming for a more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable option. Effective in correcting farsightedness while offering a more cosmetically appealing result.
  • Contact Lenses: Offers an alternative to eyeglasses, providing a natural field of vision. Effective for farsightedness correction, preferred by those seeking convenience and cosmetic advantages.

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3. Lens Materials

When it comes to improving vision, the material of the lens is an essential factor to consider. If you have nearsightedness, regular or high-index plastic lenses are often suggested because they are better at bending light. On the other hand, if you have farsightedness, lenses made from polycarbonate or glass may be a better option as they can bend light in the opposite direction.

Nearsighted Lens Materials

If you are nearsighted, your prescription requires thin lenses in the center and thicker at the edges. This design helps to correct the shape of your eye, allowing you to see clearly at a distance. The lens materials chosen for these lenses should be lightweight, durable, and have a high refractive index (the ability to bend light).

Some common options include:

  • Glass or plastic: Concave lenses are crafted from either glass or plastic. These lenses bend light in a way that causes the focal point to converge in front of the retina, aiding in the correction of nearsightedness.
  • Regular plastic and rigid gas-permeable: Multi-focal lenses offer multiple focal points and are available in different materials, including regular plastic and rigid gas-permeable lenses. The choice of material depends on individual needs and preferences.
  • Hydrogel and silicone hydrogel: Contact lenses for nearsightedness correction can be made from hydrogel or silicone hydrogel. Hydrogel lenses are soft and permit oxygen to reach the cornea, while silicone hydrogel lenses enhance oxygen permeability.
  • High-index plastic: High-index lenses are designed to be thinner and lighter than conventional lenses. They are made from materials like high-index plastic, which has a higher index of refraction, resulting in a thinner lens. These lenses are popular among individuals with higher prescriptions.

Farsighted Lens Materials

When it comes to materials used for correcting farsightedness, there are several options available in the market. Positive power lenses are used to converge light rays before they reach the retina. Below are some commonly used materials for correcting farsightedness:

  • Glass or transparent plastic: Convex lenses are used to correct farsightedness and can be made of either glass or transparent plastic. These lenses are designed to converge the light rays that enter the eye, making it easier for the retina to focus on distant objects.
  • Polycarbonate: Bifocal lenses are made of different materials, including plastic (organic glass) and glass (mineral glass). The most common material used for bifocal lenses is polycarbonate. Polycarbonate lenses are thinner, lighter, and more impact-resistant than glass lenses. They also provide 100% protection against harmful UV rays.
  • CR-39: CR-39 is a variety of plastic frequently used to produce eyeglass lenses alongside the PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) material. Although CR-39 technically refers to the ADC monomer, it is more commonly used to refer to the completed plastic. This plastic is widely utilized in the eyewear industry because of its excellent optical quality, good impact resistance, and ability to be easily dyed to various colors.
  • Plastic: High-index lenses, commonly used in optical devices, are predominantly made from plastics. The manufacturing process of these lenses is a specialized one that aims to achieve a high index of refraction. This is done by utilizing advanced techniques that enhance the optical properties of the lens material.
  • Soft and rigid gas-permeable (RGP): If you are looking for contact lenses to correct farsightedness, you can choose from various materials and designs, including soft and RGP materials. Soft contact lenses consist of a unique plastic-water blend, enabling the passage of oxygen to your cornea. On the other hand, RGP lenses are crafted from a robust and durable plastic that also allows oxygen transmission.

4. Benefits

If you are wondering about the benefits of nearsightedness and farsightedness lenses, it is essential to note that they are specifically designed to address different vision problems. Both lenses offer several benefits, including improved vision clarity, reduced eye strain, and increased comfort while wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Nearsighted Lenses

The following are some benefits of using nearsighted lenses:

  • Correction of Nearsightedness: The primary benefit of these lenses is correcting nearsightedness or myopia, where distant objects appear blurry. The lenses are designed to compensate for the overconvergence of the eyeball. For instance, a -6.00 D lens corrects twice the amount of nearsightedness as a -3.00 D lens.
  • Peripheral Light Management: Multifocal lenses focus on peripheral light in front of the retina to prevent the eye from becoming myopic by providing peripheral myopic defocus. According to a study, multifocal lenses slow myopia progression by about 43% over three years.
  • Anti-Reflective (AR) Coating: The best nearsighted glasses should have an anti-reflective coating to improve visual acuity and comfort by preventing distracting reflections on the lens surfaces. AR coatings can virtually eliminate the reflection of light, allowing 99.5% of available light to pass through the lenses and enter the eye for good vision.
  • Options for Contact Lens Wearers: According to a study myopia progressed slower in the eye wearing the myopia control contact lens in approximately 70% to 90% of participants.
  • Ease of Access: Glasses and contacts for nearsightedness can be sourced from local retailers, online eyewear sellers, or optician's offices. Some online retailers offer tools to generate prescription details and order custom lenses from the comfort of your home.

Farsighted Lenses

Some benefits of farsighted lenses include:

  • Clear Vision for Close-Up Tasks: Farsighted lenses are designed to correct hyperopia, allowing individuals to see objects up close more clearly. This is especially beneficial for activities such as reading or computer work.
  • Reduced Eye Strain and Fatigue: Wearing farsighted glasses can help reduce eye strain and fatigue associated with blurry close-up vision. This can contribute to overall eye comfort, particularly during tasks that require focusing on nearby objects.
  • Prevention of Headaches: Farsightedness can lead to headaches, and wearing the appropriate eyeglasses can help alleviate this symptom by providing clear vision for close-up activities.
  • Improved Distance Vision: In cases of mild hyperopia, near vision may appear blurry while distance vision remains clear. Wearing farsighted lenses can improve vision at all distances, providing a comprehensive solution to hyperopia.
  • Customizable Lens Options: There are different types of lenses suitable for farsighted correction, including CR-39, polycarbonate, high-index, and aspheric lenses. This variety allows individuals to choose lenses based on prescription, preferences, and lifestyle needs.
  • Enhanced Appearance and Comfort: Individuals who require a stronger prescription may worry that wearing farsighted glasses will cause their eyes to appear disproportionately large. However, there are lens options, such as high-index that can provide a more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing look while ensuring the wearer's comfort.
  • Coatings for Additional Benefits: Various coatings, such as anti-reflective and UV coatings, can be applied to farsighted lenses. These coatings improve the cosmetic look of the glasses, reduce glare during nighttime driving or digital device use, and provide UV protection.

5. Cost Considerations

When considering lenses for nearsightedness or farsightedness, it is essential to consider the cost and potential cost benefits. Factors that can affect the cost of lenses include the type of lens material, the level of prescription, and any additional features such as anti-glare or scratch-resistant coatings.

Nearsighted Lens Costs

The cost of nearsighted lenses in the US varies depending on the type of lenses and the retailer. Here are the average costs for different types of lenses:

  • Concave Lenses: Single vision lenses, which can include concave lenses for nearsightedness, can range from $5 to $500, with the cheapest typically starting at $15 to $100. High-index concave lenses, designed to make the lenses thinner, can cost between $100 and $300, depending on the type of high-index lenses chosen.
  • Multi-focal Lenses: According to Consumer Reports, the average retail price of multi-focal or progressive lenses is $270. However, you should be prepared to pay between $90 and $450 exclusively for the progressive lenses, excluding the prescription or frames. When factoring in the prescription, coating, frames, and lenses, the total costs can range from $320 to $600.
  • Contact Lenses: The average cost of contact lenses is $32 per month, which can be higher depending on the type of contacts used. Daily contacts can cost between $30 and $40 for 30 pairs, while monthly contacts can cost between $20 and $40.
  • High-Index Lenses: The cost of high-index lenses varies depending on the index and the retailer. For example, high-index single-vision lenses with an index of 1.67 or 1.70 can cost between $100 and $150 for the pair. High-index lenses with an index of 1.74 can cost between $175 and $225.

Farsightedness Lens Costs

Below are the average cost of the farsightedness lenses available in the market:

  • Convex Lenses: Convex lenses are available in different diameters, with varying effective focal lengths and substrate materials. As a result, their prices also vary. These lenses can range from as low as $14.90 to as high as $1,499.00, depending on their specifications.
  • Bifocal Lenses: Bifocal lenses can cost anywhere from $15 to $350 or more. The average cost of a pair of eyeglasses without insurance, including an eye exam, frames, and lenses, is $531.
  • CR-39: The cost of CR-39 lenses in the US varies depending on the retailer and the specific offer. For example, America's Best offers 2 complete pairs of glasses for as low as $79.95 with single-vision uncoated CR-39 plastic lenses.
  • High-Index Lenses: High-index lenses are typically more expensive than standard plastic lenses. The cost of high-index lenses can vary, but it can be included in the average cost of glasses without insurance, which is around $200 to $300+.
  • Contact Lenses: Spherical soft contact lenses range in price from $30 to $75 per box, containing six lenses. Disposable contact lenses, suitable for regular wearers, can incur an annual cost of approximately $200 to $1,000 or a monthly expense of $15 to $85, depending on the lens type and wear frequency.

Wrap-Up

Whether you need nearsighted or farsighted lenses depends on the type of refractive error you have and your preferences. Both types of lenses have several options, including concave lenses, multi-focal lenses, and high-index lenses, which can correct various vision problems. It is essential to consult with an eye care professional to find the right lenses for your specific prescription.

Corrective lenses can enhance your vision and improve your quality of life, allowing you to see the world more clearly. Remember to schedule regular eye exams to ensure your lenses are still providing the correct vision correction and to detect any changes in your vision that may require adjustments to your prescription.

FAQs On Nearsighted VS. Farsighted Lenses

How are nearsightedness and farsightedness diagnosed?

An eye doctor can diagnose the condition by performing an eye exam, which may include a visual acuity test, a retinoscopy, or a refraction test.

What are the common symptoms of nearsightedness vs farsightedness?

Nearsightedness may cause symptoms like blurred vision, difficulty seeing distant objects, eye strain, and headaches. Farsightedness may cause symptoms like blurred vision, difficulty seeing nearby objects, eye strain, and headaches.

Can nearsightedness vs farsightedness be corrected with lenses?

Yes, both nearsightedness and farsightedness can be corrected with lenses. For nearsightedness, concave or minus lenses are used, while convex or plus lenses are used for farsightedness.

Can nearsightedness vs farsightedness be corrected with surgery?

Yes, both nearsightedness and farsightedness can be corrected with surgery, such as LASIK, PRK, or implantable lenses. However, surgery may not be suitable for everyone, and it is best to consult an eye doctor for advice.

What is the difference between nearsighted and farsighted lenses?

Nearsighted lenses are used to correct vision when someone has difficulty seeing objects at a distance. On the other hand, farsighted lenses are used to correct vision when a person has difficulty seeing objects up close.

What is the difference between nearsighted and farsighted eyes?

Nearsighted eyes are eyes that have trouble seeing objects that are far away, while farsighted eyes have trouble seeing objects that are up close.