In the EBD Blog
Reviewed by Thomas Stokkermans, OD, PhD on June 6, 2023
While true in many cases, being farsighted is more complicated than being able to see distant objects clearly while things up close appear blurry. The medical terms for farsightedness are hyperopia and hypermetropia. If you have bilateral hyperopia, it means both your eyes are affected.
What Causes Farsightedness?
You may become farsighted if:
The length of your eyeball from front to back (called the axial length) is too short. Your eye doesn’t bend light strongly enough. You have a combination of both issues.
Light enters your eye through the pupil. The internal lens, which is located behind the pupil, bends light so it reaches the retina at the back of your eye. In a process called accommodation, a muscle in the eye pulls on the internal lens to make it focus.
If your eyeball is too short, the light is focused behind the retina instead of on the retina, and the internal lens needs to accommodate for the light to focus properly. The internal lens also needs to focus more when you look at things up close.
So when someone that is farsighted is looking at something up close, the focusing system has to work extra hard. But even then, their near vision is blurry without correction. With large amounts of farsightedness, a person’s intermediate and distance vision can also become blurry.
The good news is if you’re only slightly or moderately farsighted, or if you’re under age 40, your eye should still be able to focus well.
What Are the Symptoms of Farsightedness?
These are the signs that you may be farsighted:
- Trouble seeing things clearly up close
- Eye fatigue and blurriness at night
- Eye strain
- Difficulty reading, including double vision and/or needing to squint when reading
- Dull ache in your eyes
- Problems with depth perception
- Eyes that cross when trying to focus
If you have any of these symptoms, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor.
Hyperopia vs. Presbyopia
Many people believe that hyperopia and presbyopia are the same condition. They are n’ot.
Presbyopia, which literally means “old eyes,” is a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes harder and starts to lose its ability to focus light. If you’re over 40, you may have noticed that it’s gotten harder to see up-close objects clearly, or your vision is blurry when reading a text message, restaurant menu, or other small print.
You may also experience eye strain, fatigue, and blurry vision after a lot of near work such as using a computer — symptoms you may not have had when you were younger.
Presbyopia symptoms may seem similar to those of hyperopia. The difference is that presbyopia is an age-related loss of ability to focus on near objects. Hyperopia is a refractive error, which is when a part of your eye doesn’t work the right way. This prevents the eye from properly focusing light, which causes blurred vision.
How Is Farsightedness Treated?
The treatment for farsightedness depends on how severe it is. And as your hyperopia worsens, you may start to feel like your vision isn’t clear at any distance. Thankfully, there are options for those who suffer from higher amounts of hyperopia: Prescription Glasses The lenses in eyeglasses change the way light is focused on your retina. If your farsightedness is mild, you may only need to wear glasses while reading or doing other near work. Prescription Contact Lenses Like glasses, contact lenses correct the way light bends when it enters your eye. Contacts sit on top of the surface of your eye. Surgery There are many different surgical options available based on your level of farsightedness. For example, LASIK eye surgery uses a laser to reshape your cornea. It’s best for people with lower degrees of farsightedness.
If you have a higher amount of farsightedness, you may choose refractive lens exchange. This surgery replaces your eye’s natural lens with an intraocular lens.
Can Farsightedness Be Prevented?
No, there’s no proven way to prevent farsightedness.
Can Farsightedness Go Away?
Farsightedness usually doesn’t go away on its own. However, the normal trend is for the amount of farsightedness to gradually go down during the first 20 years of a person’s life. So it seems like many people have “grown out” of their farsightedness by the time they get into their 20s.
If by this age, you still have a significant amount of farsightedness left, corrective surgery can improve your vision. But it’s important to remember that even if you have surgery, your vision can still change over time.
The best way to manage your farsightedness is to get a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses from your eye doctor and wear them as directed. Your doctor will check your vision at your annual eye exam and can adjust your prescription if there are any changes.
If you have any symptoms of farsightedness or if your vision suddenly changes, make an appointment to see your eye doctor and discuss your options. You’ll be glad you did!