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Eye Health and Farsightedness

Farsightedness or hyperopia means that the eye focuses better on distant objects than on those that are close.

Children with mild to moderate degrees of farsightedness can see both distance and near without correction, because the muscles and lens within their eyes can “squint” very effectively and overcome the farsightedness. Adults with farsightedness may have difficulty focusing on objects close up, such as print in a book. As they mature, with decreasing ability to “squint” (accommodate), these same adults also may have difficulty focusing on distant objects.

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What Causes Farsightedness?

Farsightedness is a refractive error, like astigmatism and nearsightedness (myopia). Having a refractive error means that light rays bend incorrectly into your eye to transmit images to the brain. Ideally, the cornea and lens, the two focusing structures in the eye, focus images directly on the surface of the retina. If the eye is too short, or the focusing power too weak, the image is focused behind the retina. At the retinal surface, the image is blurred. Thus, the vision is also blurred.

Hyperopia often runs in families and is often present at birth; however, many children outgrow it.

What Are the Symptoms of Farsightedness?

Symptoms of farsightedness may include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye strain
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on nearby objects
  • Fatigue or headache after performing a close task such as reading

If you experience these symptoms of farsightedness while wearing your glasses or contact lenses, you may need a new prescription.

How Is Farsightedness Diagnosed?

Farsightedness can be easily diagnosed by 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 entering your eye. Glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery can all be used to correct farsightedness.

Depending on the extent of your farsightedness, 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 contact lenses or glasses isn't for you, surgery can reduce or even eliminate your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The most common procedures to correct farsightedness include:

  • LASIK. During laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, a flap is cut through the top of the cornea, a laser sculpts your  internal corneal tissue into a vision correcting shape, and then the flap is dropped back into place. LASIK is the most common surgery used to correct farsightedness.
  • PRK (LASIK without a flap). During a photorefractive keratectomy, a laser is used to shape the cornea so that light rays can focus closer to or even on the retina.

Talk to your eye doctor about which treatment is best for you.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on September 28, 2014

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