Affecting nearly 5 to 10 percent of the United States population, farsightedness can be found in both children and adults. Have you ever brought an object up to your face but realized that you could not identify or perceive the smallest details?
Because farsightedness is quite rare, it is more common for individuals with eye problems to have nearsightedness. In fact, more people have a basic understanding of nearsightedness than they do of the former.
While farsightedness may not be as common, it is equally important to have an understanding of this condition. If you have recently been diagnosed with the condition, here is what you need to know.
Otherwise known as hyperopia, farsightedness is a condition in which you can view distant objects clearly; however, close objects may seem blurry. Depending on the specifics of your condition, you may have no problems viewing an object at a medium or far distance. This is called the degree of your farsightedness and defines the range at which you are able to clearly view objects.
Causes and Risk Factors of Farsightedness
Hyperopia has been found to have a predominantly genetic basis, meaning that it can run in families. At birth, a child can be diagnosed with the condition based on familial history and precautions may have to be taken to prevent the progression of the condition.
In a more scientific outlook, hyperopia develops when the eyeball is too short compared to the average human eyeball or when the cornea has a minor curvature. The cornea can be thought of as a window that allows light to pass into the eye. If the cornea is not smooth or has too minor of a curvature, lights may not be able to refract properly. This causes the refractive error that occurs with farsightedness.
Contrary to the old maiden’s tale of damaging your eyes by sitting close to the TV screen, several factors can increase your risk of hyperopia, with a majority of them being out of our control. As mentioned before, family histories are a major risk factor for farsightedness. Research has shown that hyperopia is a complex disease because there is no gene that directly contributes to the onset of the condition. Instead, there are multiple genes that can influence a person’s risk of developing hyperopia.
Studies have also determined that certain races may be at a higher risk to develop hyperopia than others. Hispanic children and adults are more likely to develop both myopia and hyperopia than any other race.
Farsightedness can be diagnosed by a board certified optometrist member during a routine eye exam in which the patient undergoes a refraction assessment. In this test, the patient is typically asked to look through multiple lenses and determine whether they can clearly see an image on the wall nearest to them. If you feel as though you may have this condition, here are a few symptoms to look out for:
- Blurriness when viewing close objects: Blurriness associated with hyperopia is caused by a refractive error when perceiving objects at a close distance. The cornea is unable to effectively refract light, resulting in a loss of focus. Instead of focusing the light onto the retina and perceiving a clear image, light is refracted behind the retina and causes blurriness. This symptom can occur anytime you are performing tasks, such as writing, reading, and using your phone.
- Squinting to see objects clearly: If you struggle to perceive close objects, you may feel the need to squint to focus your vision. This symptom is often accompanied by blurriness and eye discomfort.
- Experiencing headaches or eye discomfort: As you are engaging in activities that require close-up perception, you may begin to experience migraines or discomfort after a short while. After engaging in such activities for too long, you may feel tension within your head. This is because you are placing a strain on your eyes as they try to compensate for the loss of vision.
- Aching or burning eyes: These symptoms are associated with eyestrain as you perform activities that require close perception. The best way to reduce symptoms is by wearing corrective glasses or using eye drops.
How to Correct Farsightedness
Correcting hyperopia is done by reverting the refractive error through means of corrective glasses or refractive surgery. Depending on your age, treatment may not be needed or recommended. Ophthalmologists typically disagree with prescribing lenses to children because they do not need them until they grow to a certain age.
For adults, treatment depends on the degree of hyperopia because age can affect eye health. If you are an adult with mild farsightedness, you may be prescribed corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses. These lenses work to counteract the refraction error simply by increasing cornea curvature through an artificial lens.
The prescribed lenses will be convex, meaning that they increase refraction and reduce focal length. A great comparison would be to think of convex lenses like a magnifying glass because they are both thickest in the center. Convex lenses are typically used for correcting farsightedness in eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Contact lenses and eyeglasses both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is recommended to discuss what might work best for you. If you choose to undergo refractive surgery, there are three procedures available depending on your degree of farsightedness.
Can LASIK Fix Farsightedness?
Ophthalmologists typically recommend LASIK to individuals with nearsightedness; however, it can correct mild-to-moderate hyperopia as well.
In LASIK surgery, an incision is made on the cornea to produce a hinged flap. Lasers can then be used to increase the curvature of the cornea to reduce refraction error. This would correct farsightedness and reduce any associated symptoms. LASIK is non-invasive and has a shorter recovery time.
LASEK surgery has a similar procedure to that of LASIK; however, a thinner flap is produced on the cornea. This flap is created on the epithelium (thin, protective covering) of the cornea and is used to gain access to the rest of the cornea. Afterward, a laser will be used to reshape the cornea and alter its curvature. Once this is completed, the epithelium will be replaced.
In PRK surgery, the epithelium will not be replaced after it is removed. Instead, it will naturally regenerate to conform to the new curvature and shape of the cornea. Because this procedure relies on the body’s ability to repair and regenerate new tissue, recovery can take a few months.
If you are having eye problems or have experienced symptoms related to farsightedness, feel free to schedule an eye exam with one of our highly qualified eye doctors! We are specialized in treating a variety of eye conditions and have dedicated ourselves to providing the best and most effective care to our patients. Your eye health is our number one priority, so book your first eye appointment today! We look forward to seeing you.