Most people with vision problems have one of four major conditions. Some of us have two or more of these problems, causing us to need lenses or contacts that correct more than one condition. For example, you may have problems seeing objects in the distance, and, as you get older, it gets harder to see up close to read or sew.

Four major vision problems

  • Nearsightedness (myopia). You can see clearly up close, but objects in the distance are blurry. Learn more.
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia). You can see distant objects clearly, but items close up, such as a book you are reading, are blurry. Learn more.
  • Astigmatism or blurry vision. An irregularly shaped cornea or lens prevents light from focusing correctly on the retina, and the result is blurry vision. Learn more.
  • Presbyopia. As we get older, the shape of the lens changes, making it harder to read or see up close. This condition usually becomes noticeable in our early to mid-40s. The effects of presbyopia continues to worsen over our lifetimes. Learn more.

More on visual acuity

The results of visual acuity testing are written as a fraction, such as 20/40. The top number in the fraction is the standard distance at which testing is done (20 feet). The bottom number is the smallest letter size you were able to read. A person with 20/40 visual acuity would have to get within 20 feet to see a letter that should be seen clearly at 40 feet. Normal distance visual acuity is 20/20.