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 some people may struggle to see clearly at any distance.

If you’re long-sighted, you may:

  • find that nearby objects are 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 don’t have obvious issues with their vision at first. But if left untreated, it can lead to problems such as a squint or lazy eye.

Getting an eye test

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

Having an eye test at least every two years is usually recommended, but you can have a test at any point if you have any 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 – such as children under 16, or those under 19 and in full-time education – eye tests are available free of charge on the NHS. Find out about NHS eyecare entitlements to check if you qualify.

Read more about diagnosing long-sightedness.

Causes of long-sightedness

Long-sightedness occurs if the eye doesn’t 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
  • cornea (transparent layer at the front of the eye) is too flat
  • 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.

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:

  • glasses – glasses made specifically for your eyes can ensure that 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 that anyone can try. Contact lenses and laser eye surgery carry a small risk of complications and aren’t usually suitable for young children.

Read more about how long-sightedness is treated.