A Simple Explanation of ‘Long-sightedness’ and Symptoms

Long-sightedness is a confusing term for many, but it does describe this type of sight fairly well. The long-sighted eye has a better chance of good far vision but could have some more difficulty with close work.

If the eye is naturally a little weak or under-powered in its focus then it will have to put in a bit of muscle effort to change the eye’s lens strength. For small degrees of long-sightedness this doesn’t cause any problems, especially if the eye is young and the lens is flexible.

But as we get older, the lens in our eye gets less flexible and will not respond to the effort we put in. So, the effort creates eye strain which can cause aches around the eyes, headaches across the forehead and possibly into the back of the head. Eventually, the effort is too much and the vision remains blurred as the eye cannot refocus enough to bring things clear.

If the amount of long-sightedness is quite high, then these symptoms can happen at an early age, and can even cause strain when looking at far objects.

Putting lots of effort in to focus is usually the cause of an eye that turns off line (squint). This is even more so if the two eyes are unequally focussed, because the brain will pick on the eye that is more blurred and allow it to drift rather than try to keep it straight. If this is seen in a child, then the sooner it is dealt with, the better, as the earlier the correction is given the better the outcome. Left unattended, it will lead to permanently dull vision in one eye (commonly called a lazy eye).

So what is the best advice?

All children should have their eyes tested routinely; starting from the age of three or four – sooner if there is any doubt. Treatment can be with glasses and possibly training for the weaker eye to boost the vision.

As we get older, any symptoms of eye strain or headache should be checked through an eye test initially, as you may just need some help to overcome the focussing effort. The doctor may need to check other possible causes of the headache if the optometrist recommends.