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LASIK and Hyperopia (Farsightedness): What You Should Know

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
Reviewed by Eric Donnenfeld, MD, and member of the Refractive Surgery Council editorial advisory board on December 07, 2020
Can LASIK eye surgery effectively treat farsightedness?

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, can cause objects that are nearby, such as print in a book, to appear blurry. Farsightedness is a very common condition and affects about 10-30% of the world’s population. The incidence of hyperopia increases with age, and at least half of all people over the age of 65 display some degree of farsightedness.

What causes hyperopia?

Farsightedness occurs as the result of an eyeball that is shorter than normal, which causes light that enters the eye to be underfocused onto the retina located at the back of the eye. This issue is known as a refractive error. Because the light is not properly focused, this prevents the formation of a clear image on the retina.

What are the symptoms of hyperopia?

Farsightedness may cause nearby objects to appear blurry, making an individual squint to see more clearly. Hyperopia can also cause eyestrain, including burning eyes and aching in or around the eyes. Prolonged periods of close tasks, such as reading, writing, or working on a computer, may trigger headaches or generalized eye discomfort. Farsightedness is different than presbyopia, which is farsightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. Presbyopia usually occurs around the age of 45 and LASIK will not help this condition unless the patient chooses to have one eye treated for near vision, giving up some distance vision. This is known as monovision.

Children with severe farsightedness may develop crossed eyes as a result of the struggle to focus. This condition is sometimes called accommodative esotropia and usually develops in early childhood. Uncorrected vision problems may also jeopardize the safety of both the affected individual and others, especially when driving or operating heavy machinery.

How can hyperopia be treated?

Hyperopia can easily be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery is another available option. If you are considering LASIK eye surgery, your doctor should discuss whether you are a good candidate for the procedure, conduct a thorough eye examination, and explain possible risks.

What happens during LASIK eye surgery?

During LASIK eye surgery, the eye is positioned under a laser and held open by a sterile speculum. Many patients choose to receive an oral sedative to make the process less stressful. Numbing drops are applied to the eye. A corneal flap is created, exposing the area that will be ablated, or surgically removed. The patient is asked to look at the target light on the laser, and laser pulses are applied to the periphery of the cornea. A saline solution helps remove debris and reposition the corneal flap. The flap is then smoothed, and the edges are dried. The total time for treatment is usually less than 30 seconds.

What is the long-term outlook for farsighted patients who receive LASIK eye surgery?

In general, the results of hyperopic LASIK have been encouraging and remain relatively stable at 6 months postoperatively. A 2018 study used light propagation analysis to confirm the stability of the corneal surface after hyperopic LASIK surgery over a 12-month period. Another study published in the journal Ophthalmology found that LASIK eye surgery was moderately effective for the correction of low degrees of hyperopia (+1.00 to +3.00 D), but some regression was observed over the course of the five-year follow-up period. Overall, LASIK surgery is a viable treatment option for hyperopia, but concerns of regression remain due to the natural healing response of the cornea to fill in ablated tissue, resulting in some loss of effect over time.

To find out if LASIK eye surgery may be a treatment option for you, ask your doctor if you might be a good candidate. Be sure to mention any pre-existing medical conditions as well as any over-the-counter or prescription medications you are taking.