What is farsightedness?
Farsightedness is a common eye condition that may cause you to have blurry close-up vision. People with farsightedness:
- Typically have an easier time seeing objects that are far away (at least 6 meters, or almost 20 feet).
- Have difficulty focusing their eyes on things that are close up.
People with a high degree of farsightedness may have blurry vision at all distances.
The shape of your eye determines whether you have some degree of farsightedness. Factors include the length of your eye from front to back (axial length) and the curvature of your cornea (the front “window” of your eye). Your eye shape affects how your eye receives and processes light to allow you to see.
You can’t control the shape of your eye, and farsightedness isn’t an eye disease. Healthcare providers consider it an eye focusing disorder because it affects how your eye focuses light. Farsightedness is common and correctable.
If you notice it’s hard to see things up close, contact an ophthalmologist or optometrist. They’ll do a simple, painless exam to check your vision and see if your eyes need a little help to focus properly. Eyeglasses, contacts and surgeries are all available based on your needs and preferences. Your provider will talk through the options with you and help you find the best fit.
What is the medical term for farsightedness?
“Hyperopia” is the term you may hear healthcare providers use to refer to farsightedness.
How common is farsightedness?
Globally, farsightedness may affect about 4.6% of children and 30.9% of adults, according to one analysis. The exact prevalence varies based on the research study because researchers use different methods to calculate the number.
For example, including people over age 40 in the study can raise the prevalence. That’s because being over age 40 raises your chances of developing presbyopia (age-related farsightedness). While presbyopia also causes blurry close-up vision, it results from a different underlying cause (age-related changes to your lens).
Symptoms and Causes
What are the symptoms?
You may not notice any problems with your vision. But if your eye muscles have to work harder to help you see, you may develop symptoms like:
- Blurry vision, especially when looking at things that are close to your face.
- Blurred vision/fatigue at night.
- Difficulty reading.
- Double vision when reading.
- Dull pain in your eye.
- Eye strain.
- Squinting when reading.
Children with farsightedness may have these symptoms but also rub their eyes often or seem uninterested in reading.
What causes farsightedness?
Common causes of farsightedness include:
- Having an eyeball that’s relatively short (from front to back). Healthcare providers call this “decreased axial length.”
- Having a cornea that’s flatter than expected.
You might wonder, why does it matter if my eyeball is short or my cornea is flat? The answer has to do with the way your eye refracts (bends) light to allow you to see.
Your cornea is the clear, outer layer of your eye. This “window” bends light as it enters your eye and helps it land on your retina, a thin layer of tissue at the back of your eye. Your cornea is slightly curved. That curvature bends light entering your eye at just the right angle so it reaches your retina. But if your cornea is too flat, or if the distance between the front and back of your eye is too short, this delicate balance is thrown off.
As a result, light enters your eye but doesn’t hit its target (your retina). Instead, light rays are under-focused, meaning they land behind your retina. This causes objects up close to look blurry. Sometimes, other parts of your eye can accommodate to help you see clearly. But with higher degrees of farsightedness, your eyes might need help from glasses or other methods to focus.
Farsightedness (hyperopia) is an example of a refractive error. Refractive errors are changes to your vision that occur due to problems with how your eye bends light. These conditions are very common and manageable. The key is seeing a provider so they can evaluate your eyes and determine what you need to improve your vision.
Is farsightedness genetic?
Researchers believe farsightedness has a genetic component. This means the genes you inherit from your biological parents may impact whether you have farsightedness. For example, some genes affect the development of your eye, including its axial length. Researchers continue to explore exactly how genes play a role.
Some people experience a high degree of farsightedness as part of a genetic disorder, such as:
What are the complications of this condition?
Farsightedness can cause uncomfortable symptoms (like headaches) that make it harder for you to do your daily tasks.
Children with high degrees of farsightedness may develop amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (eyes that look in different directions). Eye exams during childhood can identify refractive errors like farsightedness before they lead to complications.
Diagnosis and Tests
How do I get tested for farsightedness?
You can get tested for farsightedness through a comprehensive (but painless) eye exam. During an exam, an optometrist or ophthalmologist will use eye drops to dilate your eyes. The drops increase the size of your pupils to let in more light. This allows your provider to see parts of your eye that are farther back, like your retina.
Your provider will shine lights into your eye and use various instruments to check your eye health. They’ll look for refractive errors (like farsightedness) but also a wide range of conditions (like glaucoma and cataracts).
If you have symptoms related to vision loss, don’t hesitate to schedule an eye exam. Some symptoms of farsightedness — including blurry vision — can signal more serious issues that need timely treatment. So, it’s a good idea to schedule a checkup even if you think your eyes are just tired.
Management and Treatment
Can farsightedness be corrected?
Yes. To correct farsightedness, your provider may recommend:
- Eyeglasses. The lenses in eyeglasses provide a simple way to correct farsightedness. They do so by changing the way light focuses on your retina. Your degree of farsightedness determines what type of lenses you need and how often you should wear them.
- Contact lenses. Contact lenses work like eyeglasses. They correct the way light bends when it enters your eye. But contacts are smaller than the lenses in your glasses, and they sit directly on the surface of your eyeball. They’re generally safe, comfortable and convenient. However, you may run into issues that prevent you from wearing contacts. These include dry eye and eye infections.
- Surgery. You may choose to have surgery to correct farsightedness. There are many different options based on your degree of farsightedness. For example, LASIK eye surgery helps people with lower degrees of farsightedness. It uses a laser to reshape your cornea. For people with higher degrees of farsightedness, refractive lens exchange may help. This surgery replaces your natural lens with an intraocular lens (IOL) to correct your vision.
Do you need glasses if you’re farsighted?
An eye care provider will determine if you need glasses. Your eyes may be able to accommodate without glasses. But if you’re having symptoms or trouble with your usual tasks, glasses may help you go about your day more easily. Contacts offer an alternative, as well.
Your provider will help you choose the best method of vision correction based on your eyes’ needs and your lifestyle.
Can you prevent farsightedness?
There’s no proven way to prevent farsightedness.
However, some lifestyle habits can help keep your eyes healthy. Tips include:
- Eat a nutritious diet. Nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and lutein help protect your vision. To get these benefits, add lots of fruit (like grapefruit and strawberries) and veggies (like leafy greens) to your plate.
- Get regular eye exams. Your provider can check for eye problems before you 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 screen for hours can tire your eyes and lead to computer vision syndrome. Making some small changes to your routine can help prevent or ease discomfort.
Outlook / Prognosis
Can farsightedness go away?
Farsightedness doesn’t go away unless you have surgery. But even after surgery, your vision can change over time. This is a natural part of aging.
Glasses or contacts can correct your vision and help your eyes focus. But when you’re not wearing them, you may have symptoms of farsightedness. Plus, your vision can still change and get blurrier over time. You may notice that your glasses don’t help as much as they used to.
It’s important to wear your glasses or contacts as often as your provider recommends. You should also have regular eye exams in case you need to change the strength of your lenses.
When should I see an eye care provider?
See a provider if you have symptoms of farsightedness or other troubles with your vision. Blurred vision can be a warning sign of many issues. So, it’s important to see a provider to learn the cause of your symptoms.
If you don’t have visual symptoms, it’s still important to schedule regular eye exams. Here’s how often children and adults with no symptoms should have an exam, according to the American Optometric Association:
- Babies: First exam before first birthday (ideally between 6 and 12 months).
- Children: At least one exam between ages 3 and 5, and then one per year.
- Adults ages 18 to 64: At least one exam every two years.
- Adults age 65 and above: One exam per year.
You may need more frequent exams depending on your eye health and your risk for eye diseases. Your provider will tell you how often you should come in. Be sure to follow their guidance and go to all of your appointments.
When should I go to the ER?
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you have sudden, unexpected, blurred vision or vision loss. These can be signs of medical emergencies, like a stroke or retinal detachment, that need immediate medical care.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Trouble seeing at close ranges can affect your work and hobbies. You don’t have to keep putting up with the symptoms or the frustration they may cause. If you have blurry vision, squint a lot or get headaches when reading, talk to an eye care provider. A few simple, painless tests can show if you have farsightedness. Your provider will correct your vision so you can see clearly and comfortably.
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