If blurry vision has you squinting your way through life, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a vision problem known as refractive disorder.
Simply put, refractive disorders happen when the light that enters your eye doesn’t bend correctly. They occur so often, about 50% of adults over the age of twenty have one.
Nearsightedness, longsightedness, and presbyopia are three of the most common.
What is the difference between these three vision disorders, and can anything be done to correct, or even better, prevent them?
We’re here to set the record straight.
If you have to squint and strain to see faces across the room, you’re not alone. A whopping 10 million Americans suffer from nearsightedness, a condition that makes objects appear blurry if they’re more than a couple feet away from you. Close objects, or those that are near you, are seen clearly.
Surprisingly, the shape of your eyeball is most likely at fault.
Nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball is too long for light rays to reach all the way back to the surface of the retina. Instead, the eye focuses images in the wrong place — in front of the retina. If your child comes home from school complaining that they can no longer read the blackboard, nearsightedness is probably the culprit. This condition is usually diagnosed in children, teens or young adults. Scientists aren’t sure why so many people are nearsighted, but they are aware of a couple risk factors:
Genetics. Are your parents nearsighted? Most likely, you will be too. In fact, if both of your parents are nearsighted, your chances of developing the disorder climbs to 1 in 3. (Better take out that extra vision plan!)
On that note, if you are a parent, be sure to discuss your vision history with your child’s eye doctor so they can be aware of their predispositions.
Natural Light Exposure. Time spent outdoors can actually have an impact on the development of nearsightedness. Researchers have found that children who spend more time playing out in natural light are less likely to become nearsighted, while those who stay inside have an increased risk. (source) Add better eyesight to the long list of compelling reasons to take your kids outside early in life and as often as possible!
Thankfully, nearsightedness can be corrected easily with glasses or contacts. However, if it’s left untreated, the condition can keep getting worse. Make sure to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor right away if you suspect you or a family member are nearsighted.
A longsighted person can see far away objects clearly, but close up items are another story. Reading a book is difficult because the words appear fuzzy or unfocused. This happens when eyes focus images behind the retina instead of on the retina.
Most often, this condition rears its ugly head in childhood. The good news is that some children outgrow it. How? Because it usually occurs in eyes that are too short. As the child’s eyes grow, the issue corrects itself and the child’s vision improves.
Just like nearsightedness, longsightedness is usually hereditary. Even so, there are some measures you can take to keep your affected eyes as healthy as possible.
- Wear your glasses or contacts as directed. Some longsighted people will only need to wear reading glasses, while others will need to wear their corrective lenses 100% of the time.
- Make sure you are reading in well-lit areas to reduce additional strain on the eyes.
- Give your eyes a break when doing close up visual work (like reading or working on a laptop). Do this every 30 minutes or so by looking up and focusing on distant objects for 5 minutes.
- Avoid computer screen glare as much as possible by wearing blue light shield glasses or using a non-glare screen cover.
- Choose sunglasses that offer 100% UV ray protection.
If you’re between the ages of 40 and 60, gray hair isn’t the only sign of aging you may be facing. When the words on the pages of your favorite novel or newspaper start to blur, the culprit is most likely Presbyopia.
Symptoms of longsightedness and presbyopia are very similar, but these conditions aren’t really the same.
Presbyopia is, to put it frankly, age-related inability to focus. Funny enough, the term presbyopia actually comes from a Greek word meaning ‘old eye.’
Presbyopia is a natural and even expected condition that eventually catches up with us all. As we age, the lenses in our eyes begin to thicken and lose flexibility. While this can’t be prevented completely, there’s good news. We can greatly reduce the effects of Presbyopia by taking a few simple actions:
- Be proactive with your diet. The American Optometric Association urges people to eat lots of powerful antioxidants to help preserve their vision. These include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and essential fatty acids. Want to read more about these powerful nutrients and how they can keep your eyes healthy? Check out the full article here.
- Choose large-print books and e-readers that allow you to increase the text size. If you do choose to read on an iPad or other device, make sure to protect your eyes. These Blue Light Shield Computer/iPad reading glasses offer protection from harmful glare while giving your eyes the little magnification boost they need.
- Visit your pharmacy to grab some OTC reading glasses. Try the lowest power first. Look for a vision chart nearby — many drugstores have them. If not, grab something to read from the magazine aisle and give them a try.
- Make sure you’re visiting the eye doctor regularly. While OTC reading glasses are the first step in helping those with presbyopia see clearly again, there may come a time when prescription reading glasses or bifocals are necessary. Keeping up with your eye appointments will ensure that your lenses are the correct strength for optimal sight.