For non-industry professionals, eye health can often be source of confusion. With terms like myopia, presbyopia, astigmatism and hyperopia, it’s hard to remember if we’re talking about difficulty seeing near, far, or in focus.
In people who suffer from astigmatism, the eyeball is more football shaped than spherical. As a result, the image captured by the retina is different depending on the axis of the astigmatism, leading to hazy or distorted vision at any distance.
Presbyopia is characterized by difficulty seeing up close. It is not a disease per se, but rather a result of the normal eye aging process and, more specifically, the hardening of the lens. For people with presbyopia who already wear glasses, the easiest solution is progressive lenses. They offer clear vision at any distance: close up (reading), medium-plan (computer) and far away. Multifocal contact lenses also offer people with presbyopia unencumbered clear vision. Farsighted people with presbyopia can opt for reading glasses to correct their sight up close.
Over the course of our lifetime, the focusing mechanism in our eyes becomes gradually less efficient. Full strength at birth, it no longer works as we approach our fifties. The thickening, and resultant loss of flexibility, of the lens is the reason for this. Presbyopia is thus the result of the natural ocular aging process, which generally is most evident in our forties.
Myopia is defined as clear vision at close distances, but hazy long-distance vision. It’s the most common type of vision problem. Many factors contribute to myopia. While the hereditary aspect is one of the leading causes of myopia, too many hours spent in front of TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones could be a significant factor in the increase of myopia, according to researchers. Dr. Morggan Debaets, optometrist, adds that the increasing amount of digital screen time also means that we’re spending less time outdoors: these two elements are thus considered to be the cause of higher worldwide rates of myopia.
When we’re outdoors, we have a more uniform perspective of our surroundings. Our eye doesn’t have to focus on objects in a short-depth environment. Conversely, when we’re indoors, our eyes have to adjust to a multitude of visual stimuli at different distances. The most recent studies have shown that spending more time on outdoor activities can help significantly slow down myopia, especially in those 18 and under.
The opposite of myopia, hyperopia, means trouble seeing up close, but having clear vision at distances. Hyperopia is the result of an eyeball that’s too short, and often accompanied by a flattened cornea.
For more information about vision problems or for any question about your eye health, please consult your optometrist at your nearest Opto-Réseau clinic.