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Farsighted or Presbyopic? Understanding the Difference

By Essilor News

It is common for eyes to go through changes as we age. Many people around the age of 40 begin to experience a condition called presbyopia—the inability to focus on near objects. Sometimes, a similar condition called farsightedness (hyperopia) is also present.

Symptoms of Presbyopia and Farsightedness

General symptoms of presbyopia include:

  • Difficulty reading small print
  • Blurred vision at a normal reading distance
  • Holding reading material farther away to make things clearer
  • Needing brighter lighting when reading or doing close-up work
  • Squinting
  • Eyestrain or headaches after reading or doing close-up work

Common symptoms of farsightedness include:

  • Words or close-up objects appear blurry
  • Squinting
  • Eyestrain and an aching or burning sensation around the eyes
  • Eye discomfort or a headache after reading, writing, computer work, or drawing for a prolonged period of time

While the symptoms of presbyopia are somewhat similar to farsightedness (hyperopia), there are some important differences.

Understanding the Differences

The biggest difference is the source of the problem; presbyopia develops over time while farsighted vision is often hereditary.

The shape and size of eyes can differ from person to person. Usually the eyeball of a farsighted person is shorter than normal, which leads to blurry vision when light rays entering the eye focus behind the retina rather than directly on it. People with farsighted vision have to work overtime to keep things in focus.

Presbyopia is the result of the aging process, when the lens inside the eye gradually loses its flexibility, making it harder to focus on objects up close. Although the condition seems to appear suddenly, in reality, the eye slowly loses its near-focusing power throughout life.

How Farsightedness and Presbyopia Relate to Each Other

An eye that is farsighted requires more accommodation (focusing ability) to automatically correct itself. In fact, with an ample amount of accommodation, the symptoms of hyperopia might not even exist.

Everyone's accommodation diminishes leading to presbyopia around the age of 40. However, without glasses or corrective vision, people with hyperopia continue to deplete their accommodation, which can lead to the early onset of presbyopia around the age of 25 or 30.

Farsightedness and Presbyopia Treatment

A comprehensive eye exam can detect both farsightedness and presbyopia, and glasses are a safe and easy way to correct both vision problems. Bifocal or progressive lenses such as Varilux® are the most common correction for presbyopia, and it is estimated that more than half of people who wear glasses do so because of a focusing problem related to farsightedness or presbyopia. Crizal® lenses are another great option as they provide excellent clarity of vision and are resistant to glare, scratches, and smudges.