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Farsightedness (Hyperopia)


Topic Overview

Picture of the eye (cross section)

What is farsightedness?

People who are farsighted see things at a distance more easily than they see things up close. If you are farsighted, close objects may be so blurry that you can't do tasks such as reading or sewing. A farsighted eye sees things differentlyClick here to see an illustration. than an eye that is not farsighted.

Farsightedness (hyperopia) is usually a variation from normal, not a disease. Less often, it happens because of another disease or condition.

What causes farsightedness?

Farsightedness occurs when light entering the eye is focused behind the retina instead of directly on itClick here to see an illustration.. This is caused by an eye that is too short, whose corneaClick here to see an illustration. is not curved enough, or whose lens sits farther back in the eye than normal.

Farsightedness often runs in families. In rare cases, some diseases such as retinopathy and eye tumors can cause it.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of farsightedness can include:

  • Blurred vision, especially at night.
  • Trouble seeing objects up close.
  • Aching eyes, eyestrain, and headaches.

Children with this problem may have no symptoms. But a child with more severe farsightedness may:

  • Have headaches.
  • Rub his or her eyes often.
  • Have trouble reading or show little interest in reading.

When does farsightedness start? How does it change over time?

Farsightedness often starts in early childhood. But normal growth corrects the problem. If a child is still a bit farsighted when the eye has stopped growing (at around 9 years of age), the eye can usually adjust to make up for the problem. This is called accommodation.

But as we age, our eyes can no longer adjust as well. If you are farsighted, the problem becomes more obvious. Starting at about age 40, your eyes begin to lose the ability to focus on close objects (presbyopia). You may start to have trouble with close work. As presbyopia gets worse, near and distance vision will become blurred, until you need glasses or contacts for both.

How is farsightedness diagnosed?

A routine eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist can show whether you are farsighted. The eye exam includes questions about your eyesight and a physical exam of your eyes. Ophthalmoscopy, tonometry, a slit lamp exam, and other vision tests are also part of a routine eye exam.

Eye exams should be done for new babies and at all well-child visits.

How is it treated?

Most farsighted people don't need treatment. Your eyes can usually adjust to make up for the problem. But as you age and your eyes can't adjust as well, you will probably need eyeglasses or contact lenses. (Glasses or contact lenses can help at any age if farsightedness is more than a mild problem.)

Surgery may be an option in some cases. Procedures to reshape the cornea, such as LASIK, can be done for milder cases of farsightedness. For severe farsightedness, surgery can replace the clear lens of your eye with an implanted lens.

But many eye specialists question whether these procedures are a good choice for anyone. Most farsighted people can have very good vision with glasses or contact lenses. Farsightedness is not a disease, and most farsighted eyes are otherwise normal and healthy.

If you are farsighted, get regular eye exams, and see your eye care specialist if you have changes in your vision.

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