The Basics of Farsightedness

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a common eye problem. Farsighted people have difficulty seeing objects that are nearby. In severe cases of hyperopia, distance objects may appear blurry as well. If your eye doctor suggests you are farsighted, what does it really mean?

Symptoms

A farsighted person has difficulty focusing on nearby objects and may feel eyestrain, pain around the eyes, or a headache around the forehead. Headaches often occur because most people are able to compensate for farsightedness by subconsciously focusing harder.

Unfortunately, because of this ability to compensate, many children with hyperopia often pass vision screenings that use an eye chart given by schools and pediatricians. It is for this reason that it is important that all children have a complete exam with a photo screener or other similar tool fairly early in life.

Causes

Farsightedness occurs because of a defect of the eyeball. The eyeball of a farsighted person is shorter than normal, causing light to be focused behind the retina instead of directly on it. In some cases, the eye may be of normal length, but the cornea may be flatter than normal.

Diagnosis

Farsightedness is detected by a simple test called refraction. Young people are dilated during this test so they are unable to mask their farsightedness by accommodating their vision. Farsightedness is usually detected early in life.

Treatment

Many children are born with hyperopia but usually outgrow it as the eyeball grows longer. Glasses are often reserved for children with moderate hyperopia and accommodative esotropia (a form of "cross-eye") or reduced visual acuity. There is insufficient evidence to recommend that all children with moderate hyperopia alone should wear glasses.

Farsightedness is often confused with presbyopia. Although presbyopia may also create problems focusing on things at a close range, it is caused by the gradual loss in flexibility of the eye's natural lens. Presbyopia affects most people around 40 years of age. Reading glasses or bifocals are generally prescribed for patients with presbyopia

A Word From Verywell

Don't be discouraged if you are told that you are farsighted. Farsightedness is easily treated with glasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgery is an option for adult patients who wish to see clearly without wearing glasses. 

If you are farsighted, you may only need to wear glasses for reading or working on the computer. Depending on your age and the amount of farsightedness, you may have to wear them all of the time.

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Article Sources

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  2. iScreen Vision. Pediatric hyperopia vision testing.

  3. National Eye Institute. Refractive errors. Updated July 11, 2019.

  4. Lambert SR. Should glasses be prescribed for all children with moderate hyperopia? Ophthalmology. April 2016;123(4):676-678. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2015.12.035.

  5. VSP Vision Care. Are you suffering from presbyopia or farsightedness? 2019.