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Farsightedness

Hyperopia

Farsightedness is having a harder time seeing objects that are close than things that are far away.

The term is often used to describe the need for reading glasses as you get older. However, the correct term for that condition is presbyopia. Although related, presbyopia and hyperopia (farsightedness) are different conditions. People with hyperopia will also develop presbyopia with age.

Causes

Farsightedness is the result of the visual image being focused behind the retina rather than directly on it. It may be caused by the eyeball being too small or the focusing power being too weak. It can also be a combination of both.

Farsightedness is often present from birth. However, children have a very flexible eye lens, which helps make up for the problem. As aging occurs, glasses or contact lenses may be needed to correct the vision. If you have family members who are farsighted, you are also more likely to become farsighted.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Aching eyes
  • Blurred vision when looking at close objects
  • Crossed eyes (strabismus) in some children
  • Eye strain
  • Headache while reading

Mild farsightedness may not cause any problems. However, you may need reading glasses sooner than people who do not have this condition.

Exams and Tests

A general eye exam to diagnose farsightedness may include the following tests:

  • Eye movement testing
  • Glaucoma testing
  • Refraction test
  • Retinal examination
  • Slit-lamp examination
  • Visual acuity
  • Cycloplegic refraction – a refraction test done with the eyes dilated

This list is not all-inclusive.

Treatment

Farsightedness is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Surgery is available for correcting farsightedness in adults. This is an option for those who do not wish to wear glasses or contacts.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome is expected to be good.

Possible Complications

Farsightedness can be a risk factor for glaucoma and crossed eyes.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider or eye doctor if you have symptoms of farsightedness and you have not had a recent eye exam.

Also, call if vision begins to get worse after you have been diagnosed with farsightedness.

See a provider right away if you think you have farsightedness and you suddenly develop the following symptoms:

  • Severe eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Decreased vision

References

Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.

Diniz D, Irochima F, Schor P. Optics of the human eye. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 2.2.

Holmes JM, Kulp MT, Dean TW, et al. A randomized clinical trial of immediate versus delayed glasses for moderate hyperopia in children 3 to 5 years of age. Am J Ophthalmol. 2019;208:145-159. PMID: 31255587 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31255587/.

  • Visual acuity test

    Visual acuity test - illustration

    Visual acuity tests may be performed in many different ways. It is a quick way to detect vision problems and is frequently used in schools or for mass screening. Driver license bureaus often use a small device that can test the eyes both together and individually.

    Visual acuity test

    illustration

  • Normal, nearsightedness, and farsightedness

    Normal, nearsightedness, and farsightedness - illustration

    Normal vision occurs when light is focused directly on the retina rather than in front or behind it. A person with normal vision can see objects clearly near and faraway. Nearsightedness results in blurred vision when the visual image is focused in front of the retina, rather than directly on it. It occurs when the physical length of the eye is greater than the optical length. For this reason, nearsightedness often develops in the rapidly growing school-aged child or teenager, and progresses during the growth years, requiring frequent changes in glasses or contact lenses. A nearsighted person sees near objects clearly, while objects in the distance are blurred. Farsightedness is the result of the visual image being focused behind the retina rather than directly on it. It may be caused by the eyeball being too small or the focusing power being too weak. Farsightedness is often present from birth, but children can often tolerate moderate amounts without difficulty and most outgrow the condition. A farsighted person sees faraway objects clearly, while objects that are near are blurred.

    Normal, nearsightedness, and farsightedness

    illustration

  • Normal vision

    Normal vision - illustration

    Normal vision occurs when light is focused directly on the retina rather than in front or behind it.

    Normal vision

    illustration

  • Lasik eye surgery - series - Normal anatomy

    Lasik eye surgery - series - Normal anatomy

    Presentation

  • Farsighted

    Farsighted - illustration

    A person who is farsighted has the ability to see objects clearly far away but not see as clearly close-up. Farsightedness is often present from birth. If you have family members who are farsighted, you are also more likely to become farsighted.

    Farsighted

    illustration

    • Visual acuity test

      Visual acuity test - illustration

      Visual acuity tests may be performed in many different ways. It is a quick way to detect vision problems and is frequently used in schools or for mass screening. Driver license bureaus often use a small device that can test the eyes both together and individually.

      Visual acuity test

      illustration

    • Normal, nearsightedness, and farsightedness

      Normal, nearsightedness, and farsightedness - illustration

      Normal vision occurs when light is focused directly on the retina rather than in front or behind it. A person with normal vision can see objects clearly near and faraway. Nearsightedness results in blurred vision when the visual image is focused in front of the retina, rather than directly on it. It occurs when the physical length of the eye is greater than the optical length. For this reason, nearsightedness often develops in the rapidly growing school-aged child or teenager, and progresses during the growth years, requiring frequent changes in glasses or contact lenses. A nearsighted person sees near objects clearly, while objects in the distance are blurred. Farsightedness is the result of the visual image being focused behind the retina rather than directly on it. It may be caused by the eyeball being too small or the focusing power being too weak. Farsightedness is often present from birth, but children can often tolerate moderate amounts without difficulty and most outgrow the condition. A farsighted person sees faraway objects clearly, while objects that are near are blurred.

      Normal, nearsightedness, and farsightedness

      illustration

    • Normal vision

      Normal vision - illustration

      Normal vision occurs when light is focused directly on the retina rather than in front or behind it.

      Normal vision

      illustration

    • Lasik eye surgery - series - Normal anatomy

      Presentation

    • Farsighted

      Farsighted - illustration

      A person who is farsighted has the ability to see objects clearly far away but not see as clearly close-up. Farsightedness is often present from birth. If you have family members who are farsighted, you are also more likely to become farsighted.

      Farsighted

      illustration

     

    Review Date: 8/18/2020

    Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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