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Alternative Names 
hyperopia, hypermetropia

Farsightedness describes a decreased ability to see things that are close to the body.

What is going on in the body? 
People with this condition have trouble seeing things that are close. This condition is the most common reason for reading glasses or bifocals. If this is the only vision problem an affected person has, he or she will be able to see far away objects without difficulty.

In young people, the focusing power of the eye is strong. Many younger people with mild cases of this condition can overcome the problem by intentionally focusing harder. As people get older, the focusing power of the eye decreases as a natural part of ageing. This is why most farsighted people need bifocals or reading glasses around age 40 to 50.

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition? 
The main symptom is a decreased ability to see things that are close to the eyes. Some people experience headaches, especially after reading.

What are the causes and risks of the condition? 
This condition occurs when light rays do not focus well on the back of the eye, which is where the brain detects images. This most commonly occurs in older people because the focusing power of the eye decreases. It can occur in younger people if the eye is too short for their focusing power.

What can be done to prevent the condition? 
There are no known ways to prevent this condition.

How is the condition diagnosed? 
This condition can be diagnosed during the refraction portion of an eye examination. Refraction is a procedure that measures the eye and its ability to see in order to determine the need for glasses. Sometimes drops are used to dilate, or widen, the pupils to assist in the examination of the eyes.

What are the long-term effects of the condition? 
There are no long-term effects other than the requirement for glasses to see well up close. After 40, most people will need glasses for sharp vision up close. A person can have this condition and be nearsighted, or have trouble seeing things far away, at the same time.

What are the risks to others? 
This condition is not contagious and poses no risk to others.

What are the treatments for the condition? 
The treatment for farsightedness is usually glasses. Contact lenses or surgery are other options. Surgery is generally reserved for people under 40. Surgery for people over 40 is not usually desirable, because in order to work using current methods, the distance vision would have to be reduced. There are no nutritional or exercise treatments that restore vision after middle age, despite claims and advertisements.

What are the side effects of the treatments? 
Contact lenses may irritate the eyes in some people. All surgery carries a risk of infection or reaction to pain medications.

What happens after treatment for the condition? 
If surgery is used, the condition is usually "cured." People who do not get surgery will usually need glasses or contact lenses for the rest of their lives.

How is the condition monitored? 
Children and young people with this condition who require glasses should be seen for eye examinations every 2 to 3 years. Middle-aged adults should also have examinations every 2 to 3 years if they have no other eye disease.

Author: William Stevens, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 7/02/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

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