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What Is Considered Bad Eyesight?

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Many people experience some kind of problem with their vision that leads to difficulty seeing the world clearly without some form of vision correction. But this is a wide spectrum of problems that cause vision difficulties, begging the question: what is considered bad eyesight?

In general, bad eyesight refers to any vision less than 20/20. This is a general standard followed by most optometrists—any vision different than this often needs some kind of vision correction to clearly see the world and safely navigate the environment.

What Is 20/20 Vision?

The concept of 20/20 vision is commonly understood as good vision. This doesn’t mean perfect—a person with 20/20 vision doesn’t have incredible clarity and the ability to see for miles more than other people.

20/20 vision refers to the ability to clearly see something at 20 feet without any form of vision correction. But not everybody has 20/20 vision—many people are nearsighted, farsighted, or have some form of vision problem, making it more difficult to see this object clearly.

If you have 20/40 vision, you’d have to be 20 feet away to see something clearly that a person with 20/20 vision can clearly see at 40 feet. If you have 20/60, you need to be 20 feet away to see something clearly when others can see it from much further.

If you have anything other than 20/20 vision, you’re considered to have bad eyesight. 

What Causes Bad Eyesight?

There are quite a few things that can cause this bad eyesight. Some of these factors can be environmental, some can be due to your lifestyle, while others are hereditary. However, the most common cause of bad eyesight is a refractive error like:

  • Myopia, or nearsightedness, which means objects become blurry the further they are from your eye.
  • Hyperopia, or farsightedness. This condition causes you to see distant objects clearly, but nearby objects are blurry.
  • Astigmatism, which is a problem with your cornea and causes blurry vision at most distances.
  • Presbyopia, which is age-related changes occurring in the natural lens of your eye.

And as you age, your eyes undergo significant changes. The lens becomes less flexible, and your retina can often develop problems. Along with these two significant changes, there are many medical conditions or eye diseases that can cause bad eyesight like:

  • Glaucoma, “the silent thief of sight.” This condition is caused by a buildup of pressure inside the eyeball itself, which can damage the optic nerve and cause vision problems.
  • Diabetic retinopathy, where damage occurs to the blood vessels in the eye and can damage your vision.
  • Cataracts, the clouding of your eye’s natural lens.

If you notice that your vision is suddenly changing, you should visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam so they can determine if you may be developing some kind of eye condition.

An optometrist presenting two pairs of glasses to his patient.

How to Improve Bad Eyesight

Unfortunately, bad eyesight doesn’t go away on its own. However, with early intervention and the help of a trained optometrist, this condition can be managed and treated appropriately—or even completely fixed through a corrective surgery like LASIK. 


Eyeglasses are a common choice, as they offer many advantages, including ease of use, affordability, and the ability to protect your eyes from environmental factors. They require some cleaning and care and are an extremely popular way to address bad eyesight.

Contact Lenses

On the other hand, contact lenses offer a wider field of vision and freedom from frames. They require regular cleaning, storage, and care, but can be a convenient alternative to traditional eyeglasses.

Corrective Surgery

In some situations, an optometrist may recommend surgical procedures like LASIK or PRK. These are commonly performed surgeries that can correct certain vision problems like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. However, this isn’t a suitable choice for everyone—you’ll need to undergo a laser surgery consultation with your optometrist so they can determine if this is an appropriate solution for you.

Get Help for Your Vision

If you are experiencing issues with your vision, you shouldn’t ignore them. Come visit us at Total Vision Tierrasanta for a comprehensive eye exam.

Our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive eye care services, from routine eye exams to treatment plans for various eye conditions. Book an appointment with us today to get clear, comfortable vision.

Written by Total Vision

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