What is farsightedness?
People who are farsighted see things at a distance more easily than they see things up close. Close objects may look blurry. Farsightedness (hyperopia) is usually a variation from normal, not a disease. How it affects you may change as you age.
What causes it?
Farsightedness occurs when light entering the eye is focused behind the retina instead of directly on it. This is caused by an eye that is too short, whose cornea is not curved enough, or whose lens sits farther back in the eye than normal.
Farsightedness often runs in families. In rare cases, some diseases such as retinopathy and eye tumors can cause it.
Farsightedness often starts in early childhood. But normal growth corrects the problem. If a child is still a bit farsighted when the eye has stopped growing (at around 9 years of age), the eye can usually adjust to make up for the problem. This is called accommodation.
But as we age, our eyes can no longer adjust as well. Starting at about age 40, our eyes naturally begin to lose the ability to focus on close objects. This is called presbyopia. You may start to notice that your near vision becomes blurred. As presbyopia gets worse, both near and distance vision will become blurred.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of farsightedness can include:
- Blurred vision, especially at night.
- Trouble seeing objects up close. For example, you can't see well enough to read newspaper print.
- Aching eyes, eyestrain, and headaches.
Children with this problem may have no symptoms. But a child with more severe farsightedness may:
- Have headaches.
- Rub their eyes often.
- Have trouble reading or show little interest in reading.
How is it diagnosed?
A routine eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist can show if you're farsighted. The exam includes questions about your eyesight and a physical exam of your eyes. Other vision tests, such as a slit lamp exam, may also be done.
How is farsightedness treated?
Most farsighted people don't need treatment. Your eyes can usually adjust to make up for the problem. But as you age and your eyes can't adjust as well, you will probably need eyeglasses or contact lenses. (Glasses or contact lenses can help at any age if farsightedness is more than a mild problem.)
Surgery may be an option in some cases. Procedures to reshape the cornea, such as LASIK, can be done for milder cases of farsightedness. For severe farsightedness, surgery can replace the clear lens of your eye with an implanted lens.
If you are farsighted, get regular eye exams, and see your eye care specialist if you have changes in your vision.
Current as of: October 12, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Christopher J. Rudnisky MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology