People with farsightedness (also called “hyperopia”) can 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 relatively common condition, affecting approximately 10-30% of the world’s population (depending on the age and location of the individuals being studied). The occurrence of farsightedness increases with age, with at least half of all persons over the age of 65 having some degree of farsightedness. Farsightedness often runs in families and is frequently present at birth. However, many children outgrow it.
What causes farsightedness?
Farsightedness occurs when light entering the eye is underfocused onto the retina (the back of the eye). If the eye is too short, or the front of the eye (the cornea) is too flat, the light will not focus quickly enough to form the correct image on the retina.
What are the symptoms of farsightedness?
In cases of farsightedness, the optics of the eye are too weak, forcing a person to “work” the internal eye muscles in an attempt to see clearly. Individuals with very mild farsightedness may have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms of more severe farsightedness may include:
- difficulty concentrating or focusing on nearby objects
- fatigue or headache after performing a close task such as reading
If you have these symptoms and have never worn glasses or contacts, you may have undiagnosed farsightedness.
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 are:
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). During a PRK, a laser is used to flatten the peripheral cornea so that light rays can focus closer to or even on the retina.
- Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK). During LASIK, a laser is used to make a flap through the top of the cornea. After the flap is lifted, the laser is used again to remove a small layer of the peripheral cornea. The flap is then dropped back into place. LASIK is the most commonly performed surgery to correct farsightedness.
Talk to your eye doctor about which treatment is best for you.
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