Farsightedness is diagnosed by a basic eye exam, which includes a refraction assessment and an eye health exam.
A refraction assessment determines if you have vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia. Your doctor may use various instruments and ask you to look through several lenses to test your distance and close-up vision.
Your eye doctor likely will put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils for the eye health exam. This may make your eyes more light sensitive for a few hours after the exam. Dilation enables your doctor to see wider views inside of your eyes.
The goal of treating farsightedness is to help focus light on the retina through the use of corrective lenses or refractive surgery.
In young people, treatment isn't always necessary because the crystalline lenses inside the eyes are flexible enough to compensate for the condition. Depending on the degree of farsightedness, you may need prescription lenses to improve your near vision. This is especially likely as you age and the lenses inside your eyes become less flexible.
Wearing prescription lenses treats farsightedness by counteracting the decreased curvature of your cornea or the smaller size (length) of your eye. Types of prescription lenses include:
- Eyeglasses. This is a simple, safe way to sharpen vision caused by farsightedness. The variety of eyeglass lenses is wide and includes single vision, bifocals, trifocals and progressive multifocals.
- Contact lenses. These lenses are worn right on your eyes. They are available in a variety of materials and designs, including soft and rigid, gas permeable in combination with spherical, toric, multifocal and monovision designs. Ask your eye doctor about the pros and cons of contact lenses and what might be best for you.
Although most refractive surgical procedures are used to treat nearsightedness, they can also be used for mild to moderate farsightedness. These surgical treatments correct farsightedness by reshaping the curvature of your cornea. Refractive surgery methods include:
- Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK). With this procedure, your eye surgeon makes a thin, hinged flap into your cornea. He or she then uses a laser to adjust the curves of the cornea that corrects the farsightedness. Recovery from LASIK surgery is usually more rapid and causes less discomfort than other corneal surgeries.
- Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK). The surgeon creates an ultra-thin flap only in the cornea's outer protective cover (epithelium). He or she then uses a laser to reshape the cornea's outer layers, changing its curve, and then replaces the epithelium.
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). This procedure is similar to LASEK, except the surgeon completely removes the epithelium, then uses the laser to reshape the cornea. The epithelium is not replaced, but will grow back naturally, conforming to your cornea's new shape.
Talk with your doctor about the possible side effects, as this procedure is not reversible. Refractive surgery is not recommended until your nearsighted prescription is stable.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You can't prevent farsightedness at this time. You can, however, help protect your eyes and your vision by following these tips:
- Have your eyes checked. Do this regularly even if you see well.
- Control chronic health conditions. Certain conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can affect your vision if you don't receive proper treatment.
- Protect your eyes from the sun. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
- Prevent eye injuries. Wear protective eyewear when doing certain things, such as playing sports, mowing the lawn, painting or using other products with toxic fumes.
- Eat healthy foods. Try to eat plenty of leafy greens, other vegetables and fruits. And studies show that your eyes benefit if you also include in your diet fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna and salmon.
- Don't smoke. Just as smoking isn't good for the rest of your body, smoking can adversely affect your eye health as well.
- Use the right corrective lenses. The right lenses optimize your vision. Having regular exams will ensure that your prescription is correct.
- Use good lighting. Turn up or add light for better vision.
- Reduce eyestrain. Look away from your computer or near-task work, including reading, every 20 minutes — for 20 seconds — at something 20 feet away.
- See your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms: Sudden loss of vision in one eye with or without pain; sudden hazy or blurred vision; double vision; or you see flashes of light, black spots or halos around lights. This may represent a serious medical or eye condition.
Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.
Preparing for your appointment
You may encounter three kinds of specialists as you seek help for various eye conditions:
- Ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist with a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) degree followed by a residency. Ophthalmologists are trained to provide complete eye evaluations, prescribe corrective lenses, diagnose and treat common and complex eye disorders, and perform eye surgery.
- Optometrist. An optometrist has a doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Optometrists are trained to provide complete eye evaluations, prescribe corrective lenses, and diagnose and treat common eye disorders.
- Optician. An optician is a specialist who helps fit people for eyeglasses or contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists. Some states require opticians to be licensed. Opticians are not trained to diagnose or treat eye disease.
No matter which type of eye specialist you choose, here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
- If you already wear glasses, bring them with you to your appointment. Your doctor has a device that tells him or her what type of prescription you have now. If you wear contacts, bring an empty contact lens box from each type of contact you use.
- List any symptoms you're experiencing, such as trouble reading up close or difficulty with night driving.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
- List questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For farsightedness, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- When do I need to use corrective lenses?
- What are benefits and drawbacks to glasses?
- What are benefits and drawbacks to contacts?
- How often do you recommend that I have my eyes examined?
- Are more-permanent treatments, such as eye surgery, an option for me?
- What types of side effects are possible from eye surgery?
- Will my insurance company pay for the cost of eye surgery?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
- What websites do you recommend visiting?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Does your vision improve if you squint or move objects closer (or farther) away?
- Do others in your family use corrective lenses? Do you know how old they were when they first began having trouble with their vision?
- When did you first begin wearing glasses or contacts?
- Do you have any serious medical problems, such as diabetes?
- Have you started to take any new medications, supplements or herbal preparations?