Long-sightedness

Long-sightedness affects the ability to see nearby objects. You may be able to see distant objects clearly, but closer objects are usually out of focus.

It often affects adults over 40, but can affect people of all ages – including babies and children.

The medical name for long-sightedness is hyperopia or hypermetropia.


Symptoms of long-sightedness

Long-sightedness can affect people in different ways.

Some people only have trouble focusing on nearby objects, while others may struggle to see clearly at any distance.

If you are long-sighted you may:

  • find that nearby objects appear fuzzy and out of focus, but distant objects are clear
  • have to squint to see clearly
  • have tired or strained eyes after activities that involve focusing on nearby objects, such as reading, writing or computer work
  • experience headaches

Children who are long-sighted often do not have obvious issues with their vision at first. But if left untreated, it can lead to problems such as a squint or lazy eye.

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Getting an eye test

If you think you or your child may be long-sighted, you should book an eye test at an opticians. Find an opticians near you.

Having an eye test at least every 2 years is usually recommended, but you can have a test at any point if you have concerns about your vision.

An eye test can confirm whether you're long- or short-sighted, and you can be given a prescription for glasses or contact lenses to correct your vision.

For some people, including children under 16 and those over 60, eye tests are available free of charge on the NHS. Find out more about free NHS eye tests to check if you qualify.

Find out more about diagnosing long-sightedness.

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Causes of long-sightedness

Long-sightedness is when the eye does not focus light on the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye) properly.

This may be because:

  • the eyeball is too short
  • the cornea (transparent layer at the front of the eye) is too flat
  • the lens inside the eye is unable to focus properly

It's often not clear what causes these problems, but they're rarely a sign of any underlying condition.

Sometimes long-sightedness may be a result of the genes you inherited from your parents, or a result of the lenses in your eyes becoming stiffer and less able to focus as you get older.

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Treatments for long-sightedness

Children and young adults with long-sightedness may not need any treatment, as their eyes are often able to adapt to the problem and their vision may not be significantly affected.

Treatment is usually required in older adults, particularly those over 40, as your eyes become less able to adapt as you get older.

There are several ways long-sightedness can be corrected.

The main treatments are:

  • prescription glasses – these have lenses that are made specifically for you which ensure light is focused onto the back of your eyes correctly
  • contact lenses – some people prefer these to glasses because they are lightweight and virtually invisible
  • laser eye surgery – a laser is used to change the shape of the cornea, which may mean you don't need to wear glasses or contact lenses

Glasses are the simplest and safest treatment. Contact lenses and laser eye surgery carry a small risk of complications and are not usually suitable for young children.

Find out more about how long-sightedness is treated.

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