Treatment options for farsightedness include glasses, contact lenses, and numerous surgical procedures that vary in effectiveness.
Farsightedness, also known as “hyperopia,” is one of the most common eye problems among children and adults around the world. Specifically, farsightedness makes close-up objects look blurry.
People who are farsighted might have trouble reading a menu, for example. People with lesser amounts of hyperopia have little trouble seeing objects at a distance.
This article explores surgeries to correct farsightedness.
While there are many surgical procedures available to treat farsightedness, they may vary in effectiveness.
All the surgeries described in this article also carry risks. Some common risks of corrective surgeries for hyperopia include:
- astigmatism (blurry, fuzzy, or distorted vision)
- blurred or double vision
- dry eyes
- halos in your vision
- flap problems (dislocation or traumatic tear)
- loss of vision
- imprecise reshaping may leave the eye nearsighted (myopic)
- imprecise reshaping may leave the eye farsighted
This procedure for mild hyperopia involves the insertion of synthetic implants to change the curvature of the cornea. It can be combined with laser eye surgery to correct multiple vision issues.
Inlays are associated with significant improvements in vision, and the procedure is considered safe and reversible. However, it may require a longer healing period than other eye surgeries.
Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK)
Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK) is a common corrective procedure for mild to moderate hyperopia.
A surgeon creates a thin flap involving only the superficial corneal epithelium (outer layer of the cornea). LASEK involves the use of an excimer laser to reshape the curvature of the cornea, adjusting for hyperopia. After the correction is made, the epithelial flap is put back in place and allowed to completely heal naturally.
LASEK is less common than laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) eye surgery, as it involves a slightly longer healing time. However, LASEK may be a better option for people with relatively thin corneas.
Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK)
LASIK eye surgery for hyperopia is one of the most common procedures for nonsevere hyperopia. LASIK is similar to LASEK eye surgery, but the surgeon creates a deeper corneal flap incorporating epithelium and superficial corneal stroma (a connective tissue in the cornea) that’s folded back. The laser is then used to alter the shape of the cornea to correct hyperopia.
LASIK surgery is popular due to its fast healing time and low likelihood of risk. Compared with other eye surgeries, LASIK is relatively affordable.
Conductive keratoplasty (CK)
Conductive keratoplasty (CK) can be used to treat mild to moderate farsightedness that occurs with or without mild astigmatism. The procedure is less invasive than other surgical procedures, as it involves the use of radio waves to correct vision as opposed to lasers or incisions.
CK involves the use of a handheld device to deliver radio waves that shrink the collagen in the cornea. This, in turn, changes the curvature of the cornea to improve hyperopia.
While this procedure can temporarily improve farsightedness, vision problems tend to reappear in the long term. As a result, CK isn’t a commonly recommended procedure for hyperopia.
Laser thermal keratoplasty (LTK)
Laser thermal keratoplasty (LTK) is similar to CK and can be used to treat mild cases of farsightedness. During the procedure, laser energy is applied to several areas of the outer cornea to shrink the corneal collagen and steepen central corneal curvature. This changes the shape of the cornea to correct farsightedness.
As with CK, improvements in vision after LTK don’t always last. As a result, LTK isn’t a common surgery for hyperopia.
Phakic intraocular lens implantation (pIOL)
In this procedure, an artificial lens such as an implantable collamer lens (ICL) is placed in front of or behind the iris, while the original eye lens is left intact.
Unlike most laser surgeries, phakic intraocular lens implantation (pIOL) is an option for people with severe farsightedness. pIOL is associated with quick recovery times and significant improvements in day and night vision.
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) involves the use of an excimer laser and is comparable to LASEK surgery. In this case, though, the eye surgeon completely removes the uppermost layer of the cornea, known as the “epithelium.” The surgeon then uses the laser to change the shape of the cornea to correct hyperopia. The epithelium is left to regenerate on its own.
PRK may be a good option for people who have thin corneas because it doesn’t involve a deep incision into the cornea.
Refractive lens exchange (RLE)
Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is typically performed to remove cataracts that form on the eye lens. RLE involves the removal of the natural lens and replacement with an artificial lens.
This procedure can also be used to correct hyperopia, particularly among people who have significant farsightedness or farsightedness combined with cataracts.
Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE)
Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) is a relatively new surgical technique that might be helpful in correcting severe cases of hyperopia. SMILE involves the use of a laser to form a small disc of central corneal stromal tissue beneath the surface of the cornea, known as a “lenticule.”
Afterward, the laser makes an incision so that an eye surgeon can remove the lenticule and reshape the cornea to correct hyperopia.
SMILE is considered to be as safe and effective as LASIK, but it hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat hyperopia.
There’s no one-size-fits-all procedure for hyperopia, but LASIK is by far the most common. The procedure you choose will depend on how farsighted your eyes are and whether you have additional vision problems, such as astigmatism.
An eye surgeon can help you understand which procedure is best. In some cases, if your eyesight is deteriorating or you have an autoimmune disorder, surgery may not be recommended.
You may be asked to prepare for your farsightedness procedure by avoiding contact lenses or not wearing makeup.
Most eye surgeries for hyperopia don’t require an overnight stay at the hospital. You may want to arrange for a friend or family member to drop you off before your procedure and pick you up afterward.
After surgery for farsightedness, you may experience symptoms like blurred vision, dry eyes, and sensitivity to light. The eye doctor will prescribe medications like eye drops to minimize any discomfort in the days following your surgery. In some situations, you may need to wear a bandage contact lens for a few days to prevent postsurgical discomfort.
Surgery isn’t for everyone. Unlike surgery, alternative treatments for farsightedness are noninvasive and carry a significantly lower probability of risks. These alternatives include glasses or contact lenses.
Corrective lenses or eyeglasses are an easy and effective way to improve hyperopia. They can relieve symptoms caused by farsightedness, such as squinting and headaches. You can get them by visiting an eye doctor for a prescription.
Contacts are corrective lenses that are placed on the surface of the eye over the cornea. Some people find them easier to wear than glasses, but nondisposable contact lenses require ongoing cleaning and care. Visit an eye doctor to learn more about contact lenses.
If you’re considering surgery for farsightedness, you might be wondering the following:
Is there laser surgery for farsightedness?
Yes, it’s possible to have laser eye surgery for farsightedness. Procedures that use lasers to correct farsightedness include LASEK, LASIK, LTK, PRK, RLE, and SMILE.
What is ICL surgery for farsightedness?
ICL stands for “implantable collamer lens.” This artificial, collagen-like lens can be surgically implanted into the eye to correct farsightedness via a procedure called pIOL. This device isn’t yet FDA-approved for use in the United States to treat hyperopia.
What is the best treatment for farsightedness?
There’s no single best treatment for farsightedness. Noninvasive treatments include glasses and contact lenses. Surgical treatments for farsightedness are minimally invasive and carry a probability of risks. It’s important to consider other factors as well, such as costs and insurance coverage.
Farsightedness occurs when you have difficulty seeing nearby objects, and it typically affects your ability to read at close range.
There are many surgical procedures available to correct farsightedness. The most common ones use excimer lasers to reshape the surface of the cornea, such as LASIK, LASEK, and PRK.
Laser-based corrective surgeries are popular due to their fast healing time and relative accessibility, but they aren’t for everyone. Speak with an eye doctor to learn more about the procedures available and whether you’re a good candidate.