Farsightedness (also called hyperopia) is a refractive error. This is when the eye does not refract—or bend—light properly. Generally, a farsighted person sees clearly far, but near vision is blurry.
But others experience farsightedness differently. Some people may not notice any problems with their vision, especially when they are young. And for others with severe farsightedness, vision can be blurry at any distance, near or far.
Farsightedness is an eye focusing disorder, not an eye disease.
What Causes Farsightedness?
To see clearly, light rays must travel through the front of the eye (the cornea and lens). The cornea and lens work together to bend the light so it lands on the back layer of the eye, called the retina. The retina then sends a signal to your brain that allows you to see.
With farsightedness, the shape of your eye prevents light from bending properly, so that light is aimed behind your retina instead of on your retina. For example, your eye may be shorter than normal (from front to back) or the cornea at the front of your eye may be too flat. This causes light rays to focus behind the retina. Generally, this means distant objects are clear but near objects are blurred.
If a parent is farsighted, there is a greater risk their child will be as well. But a parent does not need to be farsighted for their child to be farsighted. There are likely many factors that lead to farsightedness, and genetics is only one part.
Most children are farsighted, yet they do not experience blurry vision. With mild farsightedness, most children see clearly near and far. As they get older, the eye grows and becomes longer, and mild farsightedness is reduced or eliminated.
What Are Symptoms of Farsightedness?
Signs and symptoms include:
Most children are farsighted, yet will not have symptoms. This is due to the flexibility of the lens in a child’s eyes. This makes accommodation (changing focus between distances) easier.
How Is Farsightedness Diagnosed?
Your ophthalmologist can diagnose farsightedness during an eye exam.
In patients who can read the letters on an eye chart, they may use a phoropter to measure your eyeglasses prescription and diagnose farsightedness.
With younger children or others who cannot read an eye chart, your ophthalmologist may use a retinoscope to measure where light is being aimed inside the eye. This allows an ophthalmologist to properly measure the prescription of your eyes.
How Is Farsightedness Corrected?
Farsightedness is easily corrected with:
Eyeglasses or contact lenses. They work by refocusing light on the retina in the back of your eye so that you can see clearly.
Refractive surgery. There are two main types of refractive surgery:
Some children do not need glasses for farsightedness or outgrow it. But all children with farsightedness need to see an ophthalmologist. If farsightedness worsens and goes untreated, it can lead to amblyopia (lazy eye) and vision loss.
There is no evidence to suggest that eye exercises, vitamins, or pills can prevent or cure farsightedness.
Which Correction Is Best for You?
The most appropriate correction depends on your eyes and your lifestyle. You should discuss your vision needs and daily activities with your ophthalmologist to determine the best way to manage your farsightedness.