Unblurring the lines to corrected vision: What your symptoms mean

If you’re finding the world a little out of focus, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

Roughly 75 percent of Americans experience vision symptoms that require eyeglasses, contact lenses or other care, according to the Vision Council of America.1 That means most of us are finding it harder to read that restaurant menu, see the weather forecast or find a good seat in the theater.

Yet there is nothing fuzzy about the lenses required to correct the challenge. Researchers and doctors are constantly working to find better ways to pinpoint the causes of eye conditions and remedy them.

So don’t fret the seat or the entrée list. Resolving eyesight issues is a straightforward process; it just takes a little understanding of what the eye symptoms mean and then working with your eye doctor to choose the right lenses for that condition.

Following is a list of prevalent eye conditions, vision symptoms and the best lenses to correct the problem for happy eye health.

Farsightedness: Anyone who can read the subtitles on a movie screen but cannot read the headlines on his or her computer is familiar with farsightedness. It is a vision condition that makes nearby objects appear as blurry as pond water, while faraway objects remain clear. Farsightedness usually occurs at birth and tends to be hereditary. Happily, the condition is easily corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed by a doctor.2

Nearsightedness: The opposite of farsightedness, nearsightedness is a condition that inhibits one’s ability to see objects that are far away, such as that highway exit sign or a performer on stage. Also a condition that tends to run in families, nearsightedness, or myopia, often worsens during childhood or adolescence. Like farsightedness, it can be corrected easily with eyeglasses or contact lenses.3

Presbyopia: Presbyopia is often accused of arriving at our doorstep the day we turn 40. Like farsightedness, it refers to the eyes’ diminishing ability to focus on objects that are close to us. It often becomes noticeable in our early 40s and unfortunately worsens until about age 65. A simple eye exam can diagnose presbyopia, and it can be readily fixed with eyeglasses or contacts.4

Astigmatism: Consider it the curve that blurs the landscape. Astigmatism occurs when the cornea on the surface of the eye or the lens inside the eye curves differently from one direction to the other. The result is blurriness at all distances and possibly eye strain and headaches. Those who have an astigmatism often are born with it. Astigmatism can be diagnosed with a vision test and a painless exam to check the curvature of the cornea.5

Fortunately, at least 90 percent of people younger than 60 can have their vision problems corrected with glasses or contact lenses.6 The key is seeing an eye doctor as soon as objects get fuzzy, and then simply enjoying life through a new lens.

1. “What Percentage of the Population Wears Glasses?” GlassesCrafter.com, citing the Vision Council of America, http://glassescrafter.com/information/percentage-population-wears-glasses.html
2. Diseases and Conditions, Farsightedness, Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/farsightedness/basics/definition/CON-20027486
3. Diseases and Conditions, Nearsightedness, Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/farsightedness/basics/definition/CON-20027486
4. Diseases and Conditions, Presbyopia, Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/presbyopia/basics/definition/con-20032261
5. Diseases and Conditions, Astigmatism, Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/astigmatism/basics/definition/con-20022003
6. Study Finds Most Americans Have Good Vision, But 14 Million Are Visually Impaired, National Institutes of Health, May 9, 2006, http://nih.gov/news/pr/may2006/nei-09.htm