Farsighted? 3 Facts You Need to Know

Think you know everything there is to know about farsightedness? Make sure these three must-know facts are on your radar.

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Maybe you can read street signs with no problem and easily scan a grocery store aisle marker. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your vision is 20/20.

Also called hyperopia, farsightedness is marked by difficulty seeing nearby objects, while faraway objects remain clear. The name of this refractive error may be straightforward, but there’s still many misconceptions about it.

Here are three must-know facts about farsightedness that can help you take charge of your vision and eye health.

Has it been a while since your last eye exam? Now’s the time to book an appointment! 

Fact #1: You Might Need Eyeglasses One Day

The most common misconception about farsightedness? That people who haven’t needed eyeglasses so far will never need them, says Sandra Pinon, O.D., an optometrist in Round Rock, Texas.

Normally, light entering the eye lands on the retina, a layer at the back of the eye that turns light into electrical signals to be processed by the brain. But if the front-to-back length of your eye is too short, or your cornea (the front layer) isn’t curved enough, it causes light to focus behind the retina instead.

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The result? Nearby objects appear blurry.

Eyeglasses or contact lenses can help correct this issue. But some people with very mild farsightedness can forego corrective lenses.

That doesn’t mean you’ll never need eyeglasses though, Dr. Pinon explains. Your prescription can change as you age. If you notice it’s getting harder to do up-close tasks, such as reading or working on a computer, it’s a good idea to call your eye doctor.

Fact #2: It’s Often Missed In School Screenings

If you’re farsighted, there’s a good chance your kids will be too. But this common vision problem often slips through the cracks at school vision screenings.

During a school vision screening (or one done at a pediatrician’s office), your child will be asked to read an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. They will read using both eyes at first, then again with each eye covered. This test checks your child’s visual acuity, or how well they can see the details of a letter or symbol. It can catch common problems such as nearsightedness, but it often leaves farsightedness undetected.

That’s a problem because farsightedness is a common source of reading problems in kids. A National Eye Institute study suggests that preschoolers with untreated farsightedness did significantly worse on an early literacy test than those with normal vision.

While school screenings can identify some vision problems, they can’t catch them all. That’s why the American Optometric Association recommends having your kids’ eyes examined by an optometrist before starting school and every year throughout their schooling.

Fact #3: It’s Different From Presbyopia

While many people with mild farsightedness can manage without eyeglasses for most of their lives, that changes after age 45. You can thank a refractive error known as presbyopia.

Presbyopia isn’t specific to people with farsightedness. It’s something that happens to everyone. As we age, the lens of the eye gets harder and less flexible. This change prevents light from focusing on the retina where it should, making it hard to see things up close.

“That’s when we start to notice blurred vision when we’re looking at our phones or doing computer work,” says Dr. Pinon.

If you’re over 45 and have to hold things at arm’s length to read them or squint to see objects nearby, visit your eye doctor for an eye exam. A pair of prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses can help you see clearly.

See our sources:

Farsightedness overview: National Eye Institute

What is hyperopia: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Link between farsightedness and reading struggles in kids: National Eye Institute

Recommended eye exam frequency for children: American Optometric Association

Presbyopia overview: National Eye Institute