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Eyes - when things look fuzzy

eyes; long; short; sightedness; shortsighted; myopia; hyperopia; fuzzy; vision;

How eyes work

Light coming into a normal eye is focussed onto the retina at the back of the eye. The light is bent by the cornea and the lens inside the eye.

If the image is focussed ON the retina we get a clear image. 

Short sightedness (myopia) - when far away things look fuzzy

Myopia [say my-op-ee-a], or short sightedness as it is often called, is caused when the image does not focus on the retina but in front of it.

This makes for the kind of fuzzy or blurry picture you would see if your camera was out of focus.

You can see things clearly when they are close to you but things that are far away are out of focus.

Go and have your eyes checked if

  • you have difficulty reading the board at school
  • you find yourself screwing up your eyes to see things clearly when they are further away
  • you have problems playing ball games because you can’t see the ball clearly until it is really close
  • you feel worried that you are not seeing clearly.

You may need to wear glasses when you are in class when you need to look at the board, or playing games or doing other things that you need to see clearly for, but you may not need to wear them at other times. Have a look at the topic Eyes - wearing glasses.

What causes short sightedness?

Well, it partly depends on the genes you inherited from your family. If there are people in your family who are short sighted then you are more likely to be short sighted too.

Click on this link to find out more about genes - Genes - not the kind you wear!

It also probably depends on how you are looking at things when you are young. You are more likely to develop myopia if you spend a lot of time focussing on near objects e.g. reading, sitting close to the TV, watching a computer, tablet or mobile phone screen.

Myopia usually starts to develop when someone is around 8-14 years old but can start earlier than this, or later.

About 30% of 20 year olds in Australia are short sighted.

Long sightedness (hyperopia) - when close things look fuzzy

Hyperopia [say hi-per-oh-pee-a] or long sightedness happens when the point of focus of the light is behind the retina.

You can see far away things clearly but it can be hard to see clearly things that are close to you, because the image is blurred.

What causes long sightedness?

  • People who are long sighted have smaller than average eyeballs.
  • The shape of their cornea is less curved than average and their lens cannot bend the light as much as it needs to do.

In part it’s those genes again! Children of long sighted parents can also be more likely to be long sighted.

Most people become more long sighted as they get older – many people need reading glasses when they are over 50 years old.

When being long sighted causes problems

Most children are a bit longsighted. Usually their eye muscles can change the shape of their lens to bring whatever is being seen into sharper focus, [like you can focus a camera to get a better picture]. Sometimes though, long sightedness can cause problems.

Go and have your eyes checked if 

  • you are getting headaches when trying to read a lot, or doing close work at school
  • it is hard to read because the letters and pictures are blurry
  • your eyes often feel tired
  • it is hard to do schoolwork, handicrafts, drawing and other close up activities.

You may need to wear glasses when you are reading or doing work that is close to your eyes, but you will not usually need to wear them at other times. Have a look at the topic Eyes - wearing glasses.

Dr Kate says

Your eyes are like the most expensive camera in the world! They can see everything, in colour, moving pictures and still images, and they focus automatically!

How good is that?

Sometimes they may not work well enough at focusing, but there are doctors and optometrists who can help.

Have your eyes checked out to see what can be done.

  • Maybe you may need to practise some eye exercises
  • Maybe you need to wear glasses
  • Maybe when you are older you can wear contact lenses
  • Or maybe, when you are grown up you can have an operation on your cornea to help your eyes to focus on what you want to see.

To find out more about how eyes work click here - Eyes - how your eyes work

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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