Farsightedness is diagnosed by a basic eye exam. A complete eye examination involves a series of tests. Your eye doctor may use odd-looking instruments, aim bright lights directly at your eyes and request that you look through an array of lenses. Each test allows your doctor to examine a different aspect of your eyes, including your vision.
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. 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, progressive lenses 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 lens, 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.
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 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 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, you may wear a bandage contact lens for several days after the procedure.
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). This procedure is similar to LASEK, except the surgeon removes the epithelium. It'll grow back naturally, conforming to your cornea's new shape. You may need to wear 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
- Rarely, vision loss
Discuss the potential risks and benefits of these procedures with your eye doctor.
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
Three kinds of eye specialists, each with different training and experience, can provide routine eye care and fill prescriptions:
- Ophthalmologists. An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist with a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) degree who provides full eye care, including performing complete eye evaluations, prescribing corrective lenses, diagnosing and treating common and complex eye disorders, and performing eye surgery when it's necessary.
- Optometrists. An optometrist has a doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Optometrists are trained to evaluate vision, prescribe corrective lenses and diagnose common eye disorders.
- Opticians. An optician is a professional who fills prescriptions for eyeglasses — assembling, fitting and selling them. In some states, opticians may also sell and fit contact lenses.
No matter which type of eye specialist you choose, here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
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?