What your vision symptoms say about the kind of lenses you need

man looking at a tablet

Finding the world around you a little out of focus lately? You’re far from alone.

More than 75 percent of Americans require vision correction. And while vision symptoms can put a damper on your daily activities, they can be corrected with prescriptive eyewear in many cases. You can find brief descriptions below on some of the more common vision problems that can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. If any of these conditions describes your vision, be sure to schedule an exam with your eye doctor today.

Help may be just a pair of prescription eyewear away.

You can’t see things up close. This is a sign of farsightedness, or hyperopia. People with farsightedness can usually see objects clearly at a distance, but find it hard or impossible to focus up close. In severe cases, it takes continual effort to focus on objects at all distances. Farsightedness can interfere with reading, writing and many close-up fine-motor tasks. It can also lead to headaches, fatigue and eye strain.

Farsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses or contacts that use plus lenses, also known as convex lenses. Thicker at the center and thinner at the edges, these lenses are designed to bend light toward the center and move the focal point forward so that light is focused on, rather than behind, the retina.

You can’t see things at a distance. This is a sign of nearsightedness, or myopia. People with nearsightedness have trouble seeing objects at a distance. Their vision is clear up close, sometimes up to just inches or feet away. Beyond that, objects become fuzzy or out of focus. Myopia interferes with lots of day-to-day activities, like driving, taking classes, sports and even recognizing friends at a distance. It can cause serious eye strain, fatigue and headaches.

Nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses or contacts that are concave, or thinner at the center than at the edges. They’re used to direct light away from the center of the lens and move the focal point of the light back, so that it reaches the retina.

You’re having trouble seeing small print. This is a sign of presbyopia, an age-related condition. It happens to everyone. As you reach your 40s or 50s, you may find it harder to focus on nearby objects, like book or magazine print, especially in low light. Untreated, presbyopia can lead to headaches and eye fatigue when doing close work. While farsightedness is caused by an irregularly shaped eye, presbyopia occurs when the lens of your eye becomes less flexible, even in correctly shaped eyes.

Presbyopia can be corrected with reading, bifocal or multifocal eyeglasses, or with bifocal or multifocal contact lenses. Multifocal contact lenses enable you to see both near and far in each eye. Regular contact lenses also can correct the problem through monovision where one eye has a contact lens with a prescription to see up close and the other eye has a contact lens with a prescription to see far away. Depending on the extent of the monovision, a single contact lens may be all that’s needed.

You’re having trouble focusing at any distance. This is a sign of astigmatism. People with astigmatism have blurry or distorted vision at all distances, varying depending on the strength of the astigmatism. Nearsightedness or farsightedness often accompany astigmatism. Astigmatism can interfere with daily activities that require seeing far away, like reading road signs as well as close-up activities, like reading a magazine. Untreated, astigmatism can lead to headaches, fatigue, squinting and pain in the muscles around the eye.

Astigmatism usually can be treated with eyeglasses or specially designed contact lenses, which are thicker in the middle of the lens and thinner toward the edge. Since people with astigmatism can suffer from myopia or hyperopia these specially designed lenses can also be used to correct either of those conditions.

Article information courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc., makers of ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses. Visit www.acuvue.com for more information.
ACUVUE® is a trademark of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.© Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. 2013.
Sources Consulted:
Johnson & Johnson, “Astigmatism,” 2010. Available at https://www.acuvue.com/vision-astigmatism.htm.
Johnson & Johnson, “Farsightedness (hyperopia),” 2010. Available at https://www.acuvue.com/vision-hyperopia.htm.
Johnson & Johnson, “Presbyopia,” 2010. Available at https://www.acuvue.com/vision-presbyopia.htm.
Vision Council of America and Jobson Vision Watch, 2006.
WARNING: UV-absorbing contact lenses are not substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear such as UV-absorbing goggles or sunglasses because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding area. You should continue to use UV-absorbing eyewear as directed. NOTE: Long-term exposure to UV radiation is one of the risk factors associated with cataracts. Exposure is based on a number of factors such as environmental conditions (altitude, geography, cloud cover) and personal factors (extent and nature of outdoor activities). UV-blocking contact lenses help provide protection against harmful UV radiation. However, clinical studies have not been done to demonstrate that wearing UV-blocking contact lenses reduces the risk of developing cataracts or other eye disorders. Consult your eye care practitioner for more information.
Important information for contact lens wearers: An eye care professional will determine whether contact lenses are right for you. Although rare, serious eye problems can develop while wearing contact lenses. To help avoid these problems, follow the wear and replacement schedule and the lens care instructions provided by your eye doctor. Do not wear contact lenses if you have an eye infection or experience eye discomfort, excessive tearing, vision changes, redness or other eye problems. If one of these conditions occurs, contact your eye doctor immediately. For more information on proper wear, care and safety, talk to your eye care professional.