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What is Farsightedness?

Farsightedness is the ability to see objects that are far away, while it is difficult to see objects that are close. Farsightedness can be remedied with corrective lenses—eyeglasses or contact lenses—or with surgery. Farsighted people may not need to wear their glasses to drive or do other things since their vision only needs correction to see things at close range. Some cases of farsightedness require patients to wear their glasses at all times. There are two types of farsightedness—hyperopia and presbyopia.

Hyperopia is caused when light rays overshoot the retina and focus behind it. In most people, the light rays focus on the retina. This is farsightedness that is not a result of age, but of genetics. Children can be born farsighted, but may outgrow it because their eyeballs lengthen naturally as they grow. Farsightedness runs in families, and if your siblings have it you are more likely to develop later on in life.

It may be difficult to spot farsightedness in small children since they may still pass a vision screening test. In order to catch the problem, it is important to pay attention to signs such as headaches, tired eyes, or the child complaining about their eyes hurting. Children who are having difficulty learning to read should also be tested for farsightedness. As children grow, the problem may correct itself, but if the problem still exists at about nine years old, it will be a lifelong condition.

Farsightedness may lead to lazy eye. It can also indicate an increased risk of developing glaucoma. It is important to receive regular eye exams to quickly catch and treat these conditions. Even if the farsightedness is not serious enough to warrant corrective lenses, it is still important to have regular exams to address other possible eye-related problems.

Many people will develop presbyopia as they grow older. This is the eye’s inability to focus on objects as it ages. It is possible to be nearsighted and have presbyopia. When someone has bifocals, it is because they have presbyopia and not hyperopia.

In addition to using corrective lenses, people may choose to buy items with large print or enlarge the displays on their computer screens to read more easily. If reading becomes too difficult, taking advantage of books on tape may help. There may come a time where these smaller corrections and adaptations are not enough, and it may become necessary to consider surgery.

There are two types of surgery. The first is called photoreactive keratectomy (PRK). The process uses a laser to flatten the back of the eye to help the images focus more closely to the retina. The second type of surgery is laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery. LASIK involves cutting a flap in the cornea and then removing some of the corneal tissue with a laser, and then the flap is replaced. Most people have LASIK surgery instead of PRK. Patients who have cataract surgery done may opt to have the lenses in their eyes replaced with an artificial lens, which will correct farsightedness at the same time.

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