What is farsightedness?
Farsightedness is a condition affecting a person’s vision. People with farsightedness:
- Typically have an easier time seeing objects that are far away.
- Have a difficult time focusing their eyes on things that are close, like words in a book.
Severe farsightedness changes that relationship. It can make all things look blurry, no matter the distance.
Who is at risk for farsightedness?
Farsightedness affects about 5% to 10% of Americans. Most children are farsighted but often outgrow the condition. Farsightedness becomes more common with age. At least half of people older than 65 have some degree of farsightedness.
You can also inherit farsightedness. If your parents are farsighted, you’re likely farsighted, too.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes farsightedness?
A farsighted eye does not refract (bend) light properly. It under-focuses the light and forms an incomplete image on the retina. When that happens, you can’t see clearly.
To understand this, it helps to consider how normal vision works (see illustration).
- Light enters the eye.
- Light refracts as it passes through two parts. First comes the cornea, the covering at the front of the eye. Then comes the lens, a clear piece that focuses the light deeper into the eye.
- The light forms a focused point onto the retina, a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye
- The retina sends information to the brain.
- The brain translates the messages into images.
Farsightedness is a problem with that second step, refraction. Refractive problems may occur because:
- The eyeball is too short.
- The cornea is too flat.
- The lens is getting older.
What are the symptoms of farsightedness?
Some farsighted people may not notice any problems with their vision. But if the eye muscles have to work harder, you may develop symptoms such as:
- Blurry vision, especially when looking at things that are close.
- Difficulty reading.
- Dull pain in the eye.
Diagnosis and Tests
How do I get tested for farsightedness?
Everyone should get an eye exam to make sure their eyes are healthy. Exams should generally take place every few years, though the exact schedule depends on age.
If you experience any symptoms related to vision, get your eyes checked sooner by an eye care provider, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
The eye care provider will conduct a comprehensive (but painless) eye exam with some or all of these tests:
- Eyedrops: The provider may use special eye drops to dilate your eyes. The drops will increase the size of your pupils (black center of the eye) to let more light in and will allow the provider to examine the retina.
- Phoropter: This instrument measures the refractive error, or the severity of the problem. The tool looks like a big mask with camera lenses all over. It helps the provider determine how to correct your vision.
- Retinoscope: The provider will shine a special light into your eyes to see how it reflects off the retina. This step helps determine whether you are farsighted or nearsighted. This isn’t often done except in pediatric (children’s) cases.
Management and Treatment
How can I fix farsightedness?
To treat farsightedness, your eye specialist will recommend eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery:
- Eyeglasses: The lenses in eyeglasses provide a simple way to correct farsightedness. They do so by changing the way light focuses on your retina. How farsighted you are will determine what type of lenses you need and how often you should wear them.
- Contact lenses: Contact lenses work like eyeglasses, correcting the way light bends. But contact lenses are small and sit directly on the surface of the eyeball. They’re generally safe and comfortable and often more convenient. You may run into issues that prevent you from wearing them, though. These challenges include dry eyes, allergies and repeat eye infections.
- Refractive surgery: You may choose to have refractive surgery with a laser that changes the shape of the cornea. These procedures can adjust the eye’s ability to focus and improve farsightedness. Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) are the most common options. Some people are able to reduce their use of glasses or contact lenses, or even get rid of them.
Can I prevent farsightedness?
There is no proven way to prevent farsightedness, but you can keep your eyes healthier by taking a few steps:
- Eat a nutritious diet: Dark, leafy greens are particularly good for your eyes. So is fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Get regular eye exams: A healthcare provider can check for eye problems before you even have symptoms.
- Wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days: Choose sunglasses that block 99% or more of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
- Rest your eyes regularly: Looking at a computer or reading for long periods can tire your eyes. Every 20 minutes, look at something far away for 20 seconds.
Outlook / Prognosis
Will my farsightedness go away or get worse?
Farsightedness does not go away unless you have surgery. Even with surgery, you may find that the condition comes back after several years.
With glasses and contact lenses, your vision can still change and get blurrier over time. It’s important to wear your glasses or contact lenses as often as your provider recommends. You should also have regular eye exams in case you need to change the strength of your lenses.
How can I help manage my farsightedness?
Follow your eye provider’s directions on when to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses. You can help maintain eye health by eating well and protecting your eyes from the sun. It’s also important to rest your eyes regularly, especially when reading or working on a computer.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you have blurry vision, squint a lot or get headaches when reading, talk to your healthcare provider. A few simple, painless tests can determine if you’re farsighted. Treatment options range from eyeglasses and contact lenses to corrective surgery. With proper management from an eye specialist, you can see more clearly.