People with farsightedness (hyperopia) have difficulty focusing on objects
that are close, such as print in a book. More severe farsightedness would also cause
problems with seeing objects in the distance clearly, such as highway signs.
Farsightedness is a very common condition, affecting approximately 1 in 4
people in the United States. The occurrence of farsightedness increases with age;
at least half of all persons over the age of 65 have some degree of farsightedness.
What causes farsightedness?
Farsightedness is a refractive error, like astigmatism and nearsightedness (myopia).
A refractive error causes light rays entering your eye to bend incorrectly to transmit
images to the brain. Farsightedness occurs when light entering the eye focuses behind the retina,
instead of directly on it. An abnormally flat cornea or short eye can cause the light to enter
the eye this way.
Farsightedness often runs in families. It is often present at birth; however,
many children outgrow it.
What are the symptoms of farsightedness?
Symptoms of farsightedness may include:
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on nearby objects
- Fatigue or headache after performing a close task such as reading
If you experience these symptoms while wearing your glasses or contact
lenses, you may need a new prescription.
How is farsightedness diagnosed?
Farsightedness can be easily diagnosed with 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
they enter your eye. Glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery can all be
used to correct farsightedness.
Depending on the extent of your condition, 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 contacts or glasses isn’t for you, refractive surgery can reduce
or even eliminate your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The most common
procedures to correct farsightedness include:
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
During a PRK, a laser is used to flatten the cornea so
that light rays can focus closer to or even on the retina.
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK)
During LASIK, a flap is made with a laser through the top of
the cornea, a laser also removes some corneal tissue, and then the flap is dropped
back into place. LASIK is the most commonly performed surgery to correct farsightedness.
An even newer procedure for correcting mild farsightedness is the
implantation of plastic corneal rings, which also alter the shape of the cornea.
One advantage of the rings is that they can be left in place permanently, or
they may be removed in case of a problem, or adjusted should a prescription
change become necessary.
Talk to your eye doctor about which treatment is best for you.
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