What is farsightedness?
People who are farsighted see things at a distance more easily than they see things up close. If you are very farsighted, close objects may be so blurry that you can't
do tasks such as reading or sewing. A farsighted eye sees things differently than an eye that is not farsighted.
Farsightedness (hyperopia) is usually a variation from normal, not a disease. How it affects you will likely change as you age.
What causes farsightedness?
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.
often runs in families. In rare cases, some diseases such as
retinopathy and eye tumors can cause it.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of farsightedness
- Blurred vision, especially at
- 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 his or her
- Have trouble reading or show little interest in
When does farsightedness start? How does it change over time?
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.
How is farsightedness diagnosed?
A routine eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist can show whether you are farsighted. The eye exam includes questions about your eyesight and a physical exam of your eyes. Ophthalmoscopy, tonometry, a slit lamp exam, and other vision tests are also part of a routine eye exam.
Eye exams should be done for new babies and at all well-child visits.
How is it 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.
But many eye specialists question whether these procedures are a good choice. Most farsighted people can have very good vision with glasses or contact lenses. Farsightedness is not a disease, and most farsighted eyes are otherwise normal and healthy.
If you are farsighted, get regular eye exams, and see your eye care specialist if you have changes in your vision.
Learning about farsightedness:
- When should children have their eyes and vision checked?
- How often should adults have their eyes and vision checked?
- What vision tests are used to check for farsightedness?
- What is ophthalmoscopy?
- What is a slit lamp exam?
- What is tonometry?
- What are the pros and cons of different treatment options?
- What types of contact lenses are there?
- What is LASIK?
- What is thermal keratoplasty?
- What are PRK and LASEK?
Living with farsightedness:
- What can I do to keep good vision?
- How do I take care of my contacts?
- What does my lens prescription mean?
Organizations American Academy of Ophthalmology: EyeSmart (U.S.) www.geteyesmart.org
National Eye Institute (U.S.)
- Eye Problems, Noninjury
- Nearsightedness (Myopia)
- Vision Tests
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Ophthalmology (2007). Refractive Errors and Refractive Surgery (Preferred Practice Pattern). San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology. Also available online: http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP.aspx.
Chong NV (2011). Lasers in ophthalmology. In P Riordan-Eva, ET Cunningham, eds., Vaughan and Asbury's General Ophthalmology, 18th ed., pp. 431–439. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Riordan-Eva P (2011). Optics and refraction. In P Riordan-Eva, ET Cunningham, eds., Vaughan and Asbury's General Ophthalmology, 18th ed., pp. 396–411. New York: McGraw-Hill.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2009). Screening for Impaired Visual Acuity in Older Adults. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsviseld.htm.