Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School


What Is It?

A person with farsightedness, also called hyperopia, has difficulty seeing objects close to the eye. They can see distant objects well.

In most cases, farsightedness is an inherited condition caused by an eye that is too short front to back. This reduces the distance between the cornea (the clear film that covers the front of the eye) and the retina (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye). Because this distance is shorter, images tend to focus behind the retina, rather than on the retina. Usually, the eye is able to compensate, partially or totally, for this focusing problem through a process called accommodation. This is especially true in younger people. In accommodation, tiny muscles within the eye contract, altering the shape of the lens and bringing the viewed object into focus.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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