There are several ways that long-sightedness can be corrected.
Long-sightedness can usually be corrected simply and safely by wearing glasses with lenses that have been prescribed specifically for you. See diagnosing long-sightedness for more information about what your prescription means.
Wearing lenses that have been prescribed specifically for you will ensure that light is focused onto the back of your eye (retina) correctly, so that close objects do not appear as blurry.
The thickness and weight of the lenses you need will depend on how long-sighted you are. Long-sightedness can get worse with age, so the strength of your prescription may need to be increased as you get older.
Some people are eligible for help with the cost of glasses frames and lenses, for example, if you are under 16 years of age or if you are receiving Income Support. Find out more about NHS eyecare entitlements to check if you qualify.
If you're not eligible, you'll have to pay for your glasses. The cost can vary significantly, depending on your choice of frame. Glasses start at around £50, with designer glasses costing several hundred pounds.
Contact lenses can also be used to correct vision in the same way as glasses. Some people prefer contact lenses because they are lightweight and almost invisible, but some people find them more of a hassle than wearing glasses.
Some contact lenses can be worn once then discarded at the end of the day (daily disposables), while others can be disinfected and reused.
Your optician can advise you on the most suitable type of contact lenses for you. If you decide to wear contact lenses, it is very important that you maintain good lens hygiene to prevent eye infections. Find out more about contact lens safety.
As with glasses, some people are entitled to vouchers towards the cost of contact lenses. Find out more about NHS eyecare entitlements to check if you qualify.
If you're not eligible, you'll have to pay for your contact lenses. The cost can vary, depending on your prescription and the type of lens you choose. They can range from £5 to £10 a month for some monthly disposables, to £30 to 50 a month for some daily disposables.
Laser eye surgery
Laser eye surgery involves using a laser to reshape your cornea (the transparent layer at the front of the eye) to improve the curvature so light is better focused onto the back of your eye.
The most commonly used type of laser eye surgery for long-sightedness is called laser in situ keratectomy (LASIK).
Before the procedure starts, local anaesthetic drops are used to numb the eyes. During the procedure, a thin protective layer is created in the front of the cornea with one type of laser, then the cornea is reshaped by another type of laser.
It takes around 30 minutes and both eyes are normally treated on the same day. You can go home soon afterwards and are usually able to return to work and driving the following day.
LASIK can only be done if your cornea is thick enough, the curvature of the cornea is not too steep, and the surface of your eye is in good health. Techniques using artificial lens implants (see below) are more suitable for some people, particularly older people.
Find out more information about laser surgery from The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
LASIK can improve both reading and distance vision, allowing you to socialise and do outdoor activities without wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Most people who have laser surgery report that they're happy with the results, but glasses may still be necessary for some activities after treatment.
Also, as with any type of surgery, the results of laser surgery cannot be guaranteed and there's a risk of complications. Sometimes the treatment may need to be repeated.
Risks and complications
Laser eye surgery has some risks and side effects.
- eye discomfort – laser eye surgery can temporarily affect the protective layer of tears over the front of the eye. Many people have some eye discomfort in the early period after treatment. Lubricant eye drops can help, but are not usually required for more than a few months.
- hazy vision – it takes around 3 to 6 months to fully recover from LASIK, and many people notice blur or haze around bright lights in the early weeks. About 1 in 20 people needs further laser treatment to improve their vision.
- there's also a small risk of potentially serious complications that could threaten your vision, such as the cornea becoming infected or scarred. But these problems are rare and can be treated with corneal transplantation if they do happen.
Make sure you understand all the risks involved before deciding to have laser eye surgery.
Who cannot have laser surgery?
You should not have laser eye surgery if you are under the age of 21. This is because your vision may still be developing.
Even if you're over 21, laser eye surgery should only be done if your glasses or contact lens prescriptions has not changed significantly over the past 2 years or more.
Laser surgery is also not suitable if you:
- are pregnant or breastfeeding – your body will contain hormones that cause slight fluctuations in your eyesight, making precise surgery difficult
- have other problems with your eyes, such as dry eyes or cataracts (cloudy patches in the lens of the eye)
Laser eye surgery can generally be effective for long-sighted people with a prescription of up to 4D (see understanding your prescription), although some people with higher prescriptions can be treated effectively. Your eye surgeon can advise you about this.
Availability and cost
Laser surgery is not usually available on the NHS because other treatments, such as glasses or contact lenses, allow you to see well enough to do most normal activities. You'll usually have to pay for surgery privately.
Prices can vary depending on the type of prescription you need, where you live, the individual clinic and the type of equipment used during the procedure. But as a guide, you usually have to pay around £600 to £2,500 for each eye.
Find out more about laser eye surgery on the NHS.
Artificial lens implants
Laser eye surgery is not suitable for people with the early stages of cataracts, which is more common as you get older. It also does not usually result in complete freedom from glasses for older people.
Surgery to replace the natural lens inside the eye with a multifocal lens implant is now often used as an alternative to laser eye surgery for the correction of long-sightedness.
This operation, called refractive lens exchange, is similar to cataract surgery. It's performed under local anaesthetic and you can go home soon afterwards.