What Is Farsightedness?
Farsightedness means it’s easy to
see things that are far away, but your close-up vision (near vision) is blurry.
The technical term for farsightedness is hyperopia. According
to the National
Eye Institute, it affects 5 to 10 percent of
To understand farsightedness, it’s
important to understand how the eye works. Two parts of the eye are responsible
for focusing: the cornea and the lens. The cornea is the clear
front surface of the eye. The lens is a structure inside your
eye that changes shape as you focus on objects.
The cornea and lens work together
to refract, or bend, incoming light. Then they focus that light onto your
retina. The retina is at the back of your eyeball. It receives visual
information and sends it to your optic nerve. Your optic nerve carries
that information to your brain.
A perfectly formed, curved lens and
cornea result in a perfectly focused image. If your cornea is too flat, your
eye can’t focus correctly.
There are varying degrees of
farsightedness, depending on the eyes’ ability to focus on close-up objects. If
you can only clearly see objects that are very far away, you’re severely
farsighted. Generally this is easy to correct.
Causes of Farsightedness
A flat cornea is one cause of
farsightedness. You can also be farsighted if your eyeball is shorter than
normal. This causes light to focus behind your retina instead of on it.
You’re more likely to have
farsightedness if your parents do. It often develops in adults as the lenses of
the eyes age.
Symptoms of Farsightedness
If you’re farsighted, your eyes have
to work hard to see anything up close. This causes eyestrain. Some symptoms of
farsightedness are due to this extra eyestrain.
- blurry vision up close
- squinting to see better
- an aching or burning sensation around your eyes
- a headache after reading or other tasks that
require you to focus on something up close
Some children develop strabismus (crossed
eyes) because their farsightedness hasn’t been diagnosed and corrected.
Farsightedness in children can also contribute to problems with learning to
read and write.
It’s easy to diagnose farsightedness
during a basic eye examination. Your eye doctor
will dilate (widen) your pupils. Pupils are the black circles in the
center of your eyeballs. Your eye doctor will put drops in your eyes to do
this. Then they’ll use a magnifying lens to look closely at your eyes. You
might also need to look through various glass lenses to test your vision.
Farsightedness isn’t usually picked up
in children’s vision tests at school. These tests generally involve reading
charts of letters from across the room. This only detects nearsightedness,
which is the inability to see things far away.
Make an appointment with an eye doctor
if your or your child’s vision is blurry when looking at close-up objects.
Young people’s eyes can often
compensate for farsightedness because their lenses are still flexible. Aging
eyes, on the other hand, require glasses for close-up tasks such as reading or
The simplest way to correct
farsightedness is to get prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. These
corrective lenses change the way light enters your eyes, helping you focus
Refractive surgery can
also treat farsightedness. This involves procedures like laser-assisted in-situ
keratomileusis (LASIK). This is more commonly used to treat
nearsightedness, but can also work if you’re farsighted. LASIK uses a laser to
change your cornea’s curvature. This will make the light refract correctly,
projecting a focused image onto your retina.
Refractive surgery isn’t as safe as
wearing glasses. Possible complications of this surgery include:
- over- or under-correcting your vision
- seeing a starburst or halo around lights
- dry eyes
While refractive surgery rarely causes
severe complications, it’s possible that it may damage your vision.
Long-Term Outlook for Farsightedness
Wearing contact lenses or glasses will
probably not have a significant impact on your lifestyle. Most people easily
Farsightedness isn’t something you can
prevent, but you can do things to take care of your eyes. Get regular eye exams
to help catch problems before they get worse. Be diligent in scheduling regular
checkups if you have a chronic condition that could affect your vision, such as
high blood pressure or diabetes.
You can prevent eyestrain and protect
your close-up vision with good lighting in your home and office, and by taking
breaks throughout the day to rest your eyes. This is especially important if
you spend long periods of time reading or looking at a computer.
Call your eye doctor immediately if
you notice any sudden changes in your vision.