People with farsightedness (hyperopia) have difficulty focusing on objects that are close, such as print in a book. More severe farsightedness would also cause problems with seeing objects in the distance clearly, such as highway signs.
Farsightedness is a very common condition, affecting approximately 1 in 4 people in the United States. The occurrence of farsightedness increases with age; at least half of all persons over the age of 65 have some degree of farsightedness.
What causes farsightedness?
Farsightedness is a refractive error, like astigmatism and nearsightedness (myopia). A refractive error causes light rays entering your eye to bend incorrectly to transmit images to the brain. Farsightedness occurs when light entering the eye focuses behind the retina, instead of directly on it. An abnormally flat cornea or short eye can cause the light to enter the eye this way.
Farsightedness often runs in families. It is often present at birth; however, many children outgrow it.
What are the symptoms of farsightedness?
Symptoms of farsightedness may include:
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on nearby objects
- Fatigue or headache after performing a close task such as reading
If you experience these symptoms while wearing your glasses or contact lenses, you may need a new prescription.
How is farsightedness diagnosed?
Farsightedness can be easily diagnosed with a basic eye exam given by your eye doctor.
How is farsightedness corrected?
To correct farsightedness, you must change the way the light rays bend when they enter your eye. Glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery can all be used to correct farsightedness.
Depending on the extent of your condition, you may need to wear your glasses or contact lenses at all times, or only when you need to see objects up close, like when reading or sewing. With farsightedness, your prescription is a positive number, such as +3.00. The higher the number, the stronger your lenses will be.
If wearing contacts or glasses isn’t for you, refractive surgery can reduce or even eliminate your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The most common procedures to correct farsightedness include:
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
During a PRK, a laser is used to flatten the cornea so that light rays can focus closer to or even on the retina.
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK)
During LASIK, a flap is made with a laser through the top of the cornea, a laser also removes some corneal tissue, and then the flap is dropped back into place. LASIK is the most commonly performed surgery to correct farsightedness.
An even newer procedure for correcting mild farsightedness is the implantation of plastic corneal rings, which also alter the shape of the cornea. One advantage of the rings is that they can be left in place permanently, or they may be removed in case of a problem, or adjusted should a prescription change become necessary.
Talk to your eye doctor about which treatment is best for you.