Long sighted? Short Sighted? Presbyopic? What does it all mean?

There are many eye conditions and they can be hard to understand. This article explains the different causes of difficulty with sight.

Eye conditions

From long-sightedness to short-sightedness, blurry vision to astigmatism, there are several eye conditions which can leave people struggling to have clear vision.

If you have a Loved One in Aged Care, it can help to have an understanding of the eye conditions which are affecting them. This will make it easier to know their needs and support their eye care.

Understanding different eye conditions

There are four basic eye conditions (called refractive errors) which affect the manner in which the light focuses on the back of the eye (the retina) and ultimately impact the way we see the world. These basic conditions are:

  • Myopia or short sightedness
  • Hyperopia or long-sightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia

Myopia

Watch this video to learn more about myopia, which is also referred to as nearsightedness or shortsightedness.

Myopia is the most common cause of impaired vision in people under age 40 — and in recent years, its prevalence is growing at an alarming rate.

In 2000, roughly 25 per cent of the world’s population was nearsighted. By 2050, it’s expected that roughly half the people on the planet will be myopic.

If your Loved One is nearsighted, they typically will have difficulty reading signs and seeing distant objects clearly, but will be able to see well for close-up tasks such as reading and computer use.

Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long, relative to the focusing power of the cornea and lens of the eye. This causes light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface.

Myopia can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. Depending on the degree of your Loved One’s myopia, they may need to wear glasses or contact lenses all the time or only when they need very clear distance vision, like when watching films or walking outside.

Hyperopia

Watch this video to learn more about hyperopia, which is also called longsightedness or farsightedness.

Like Myopia, Hyperopia is a common vision problem, affecting about 25 per cent of the population.

The condition is sometimes referred to as ‘hypermetropia’ rather than hyperopia. People with hyperopia can see distant objects very well, but have difficulty focusing on objects that are up close.

This vision problem occurs when light rays entering the eye focus behind the retina, rather than directly on it. The eyeball of a farsighted person is shorter than normal, as opposed to a myopic person, who has a longer eyeball than normal.

Farsightedness can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses to change the way light rays bend into the eyes. Your Loved One may need to wear glasses or contacts all the time or only when reading, working on a computer or doing other close-up work.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism probably the most misunderstood vision problem. For starters, it’s called ‘astigmatism’, not ‘stigmatism’. (You don’t have ‘a stigmatism’ — you have astigmatism.)

Astigmatism is a common refractive error, meaning it is not an eye disease or eye health problem; it’s simply a problem with how the eye focuses light. In an eye with astigmatism, light fails to come to a single focus on the retina to produce clear vision. Instead, multiple focus points occur, either in front of the retina or behind it (or both).

Astigmatism usually causes vision to be blurred or distorted to some degree at all distances.

This problem usually is caused by an irregularly shaped cornea. Instead of the cornea having a symmetrically round shape (like a soccer ball), it is shaped more like an AFL football, with one meridian being significantly more curved than the meridian perpendicular to it.

Those who have astigmatism may find it can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Presbyopia

Occurring in people over age 40, Presbyopia is almost unavoidable. The video below offers an explanation.

Presbyopia generally is believed to stem from a gradual thickening and loss of flexibility of the natural lens inside your eye and refers to the normal loss of near focusing ability that occurs with age.

Most people begin to notice the effects of presbyopia sometime around age 40, when they start having trouble seeing small print clearly — including text messages on their phone or subtitles on the television.

You can’t escape presbyopia, even if you’ve never had a vision problem before. Even people who are nearsighted will notice that their near vision blurs when they wear their usual eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision.

Worldwide, an estimated 2.11 billion are expected to be diagnosed with presbyopia by 2020, according to Market Scope, a leading vision and analytics company.

As your Loved One’s eye lens continues to change, their presbyopic prescription will need to be increased over time as well. You can expect an eye care practitioner to prescribe a stronger correction for your Loved One as they need it.

The above four conditions are common and treatable, however they can come on so slowly that people, particularly the elderly, don’t notice their vision has deteriorated. This is why it is so important to book a regular eye health check and make sure your Loved One has their eyes tested by a professional.

Healthcare 2 You provides in-house optometry checks for aged care residents in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Contact us to find out more.

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