Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The goal of treating farsightedness is to help to focus light on the retina through the use of corrective lenses or refractive surgery.

Corrective lenses

In young people, treatment isn't always necessary because the lenses of their eyes are flexible enough to compensate for the condition. But as you age, the lenses become less flexible and eventually you'll probably need corrective lenses to improve your near vision.

Wearing corrective lenses treats farsightedness by counteracting the decreased curvature of your cornea or the smaller size (length) of your eye. Types of corrective lenses include:

  • Eyeglasses. The variety of eyeglasses is wide and includes bifocals, trifocals and reading lenses.
  • Contact lenses. A wide variety of contact lenses are available — hard, soft, extended wear, disposable, rigid gas permeable and bifocal. Ask your eye doctor about the pros and cons of contact lenses and what might be best for you.

If you're also having age-related trouble with close vision (presbyopia), monovision contact lenses may be an option for you. With monovision contacts, you may not need correction for the eye you use for distance vision (usually the dominant eye), but a contact lens can be used for close-up vision in your other eye. Some people have trouble adapting to this kind of vision because 3-D vision is sacrificed in order to be able to see both nearby and in the distance clearly. Monovision contacts can be worn intermittently as desired.

Modified monovision contact lenses are another option. With this type of contact lenses, you can wear a bifocal contact lens in your nondominant eye and a contact lens prescribed for distance in your dominant eye. You can then use both eyes for distance and one eye for seeing objects nearby.

Refractive surgery

Although most refractive surgical procedures are used to treat nearsightedness, they can also be used for farsightedness. These surgical treatments correct farsightedness by reshaping the curvature of your cornea. Refractive surgery methods include:

  • Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK). LASIK is a procedure in which an ophthalmologist makes a thin, circular hinged flap cut into your cornea. Then, your eye surgeon uses a type of laser called an excimer laser to remove layers from the center of your cornea to steepen its domed shape. An excimer laser differs from other lasers in that it doesn't produce heat. After the excimer laser is used, the thin corneal flap is repositioned.
  • Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK). Instead of creating a flap in the cornea, the surgeon creates a flap involving only the cornea's thin protective cover (epithelium). Your surgeon will use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea's outer layers and steepen its curvature and then reposition the epithelial flap. To facilitate healing, a bandage contact lens may be worn for several days after the procedure.
  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). This procedure is similar to LASEK, except the surgeon removes the epithelium. It will grow back naturally, conforming to your cornea's new shape. Like the LASEK procedure, PRK may require the use of a bandage contact lens for a few days following surgery.
  • Conductive keratoplasty (CK). This procedure uses radiofrequency energy to apply heat to tiny spots around the cornea. The effect resembles plastic wrap being stretched by heat. The degree of change in the curvature of the cornea depends on the number and spacing of the spots as well as the way in which the cornea heals after treatment. The results of CK aren't permanent.

Some of the possible complications that can occur after refractive surgery include:

  • Undercorrection or overcorrection of your initial problem
  • Visual side effects, such as a halo or starburst appearing around lights
  • Dry eye
  • Infection
  • Rarely, vision loss

Discuss the potential risks and benefits of these procedures with your eye doctor.

Apr. 24, 2012