Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a vision condition that causes objects nearby to appear blurry or distorted, whereas distant objects can be seen clearly. It affects an estimated 5 to 10 percent of Americans.
Like nearsightedness, farsightedness occurs because of a problem with the eyeball’s shape or cornea’s curvature. If you have farsightedness, your eyeball may be too short or your cornea (the clear covering of the eye) may have too little curvature. This is what is known as a refractive error — meaning that it affects the way the eye refracts (focuses) light on the retina. In cases of farsightedness, light entering the eye is focused behind the retina, instead of on it, and nearby objects look blurry.
Farsightedness is often inherited, so if one or both of your parents have it, you are more likely to develop the condition. It is usually present at birth.
The primary symptom of farsightedness is that near objects appear blurry or distorted. This kind of limited vision can cause other symptoms, including the following:
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks that require focus on near objects (e.g., book, smartphone, computer)
- Constant squinting to see objects up close
- Eyestrain/tension after performing prolonged close work like reading, using a computer or drawing
- Burning or aching eyes
Diagnosis and Treatment
Vision tests administered in elementary schools generally do not detect farsightedness because the children can see the distance eye chart easily (it is close objects they struggle to see).
Farsightedness is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination with an eye doctor. Various instruments, lights and lenses may be used to identify the specific problem with the eye’s anatomy and measure visual acuity.
The simplest way to correct farsightedness is through corrective prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. These lenses restore close focusing power to enable you to see objects nearby clearly and crisply. However, not everyone can wear contact lenses comfortably, and glasses can be an inconvenient solution.
Another way to correct the visual deficiencies caused by farsightedness is to permanently improve the curvature of the cornea through laser eye surgery. LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) are two laser eye surgeries that use a sophisticated laser to steepen the cornea’s dome so light can refract properly on the retina. LASIK involves making a thin flap in the outer protective layer of the cornea, which is folded back to reveal the underling corneal tissue. In PRK, the outer layer of the cornea is completely removed to access the underlying tissue; it then grows back after surgery. Most people that undergo laser vision correction can see clearly at all distances without the need for glasses or contact lenses.