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Farsightedness (hyperopia) is a common vision condition in which you can see distant objects clearly, but objects nearby may be blurry.

The degree of your farsightedness influences your focusing ability. People with severe farsightedness may be able to clearly see only objects a great distance away, while those with mild farsightedness may be able to clearly see objects that are closer.

Farsightedness usually is present at birth and tends to run in families. You can easily correct this condition with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Another treatment option is surgery.

What causes farsightedness?

A farsighted eye does not refract (bend) light properly. It under-focuses the light and forms an incomplete image on the retina. When that happens, you can’t see clearly.

To understand this, it helps to consider how normal vision works (see illustration).

  1. Light enters the eye.
  2. Light refracts as it passes through two parts. First comes the cornea, the covering at the front of the eye. Then comes the lens, a clear piece that focuses the light deeper into the eye.
  3. The light forms a focused point onto the retina, a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye
  4. The retina sends information to the brain.
  5. The brain translates the messages into images.

Farsightedness is a problem with that second step, refraction. Refractive problems may occur because:

  • The eyeball is too short.
  • The cornea is too flat.
  • The lens is getting older.

What are the symptoms of farsightedness?

Some farsighted people may not notice any problems with their vision. But if the eye muscles have to work harder, you may develop symptoms such as:

  • Blurry vision, especially when looking at things that are close.
  • Difficulty reading.
  • Dull pain in the eye.
  • Eyestrain.
  • Headaches.
  • Squinting.

How can I fix farsightedness?

To treat farsightedness, your eye specialist will recommend eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery:

  • Eyeglasses: The lenses in eyeglasses provide a simple way to correct farsightedness. They do so by changing the way light focuses on your retina. How farsighted you are will determine what type of lenses you need and how often you should wear them.
  • Contact lenses: Contact lenses work like eyeglasses, correcting the way light bends. But contact lenses are small and sit directly on the surface of the eyeball. They’re generally safe and comfortable and often more convenient. You may run into issues that prevent you from wearing them, though. These challenges include dry eyes, allergies, and repeat eye infections.
  • Refractive surgery: You may choose to have refractive surgery with a laser that changes the shape of the cornea. These procedures can adjust the eye’s ability to focus and improve farsightedness. Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) are the most common options. Some people are able to reduce their use of glasses or contact lenses, or even get rid of them.