Hyperopia, more commonly known as farsightedness, is a fairly common vision problem. In fact, it is estimated that it affects up to a fourth of all people. A person affected with hyperopia can see objects in the distance very well, but they have problems focusing on objects that are close to them. Often, this means objects that are within arms’ length, but sometimes it can mean objects that are a bit farther or a bit closer. Note that hyperopia is not the same as presbyopia, although both result in the same type of farsightedness symptoms. The opposite of hyperopia is called myopia (shortsightedness), or the inability to see things that are far away. There are actually several different types of hyperopia, including simple, pathological, and functional.

Before they are diagnosed with hyperopia, people often start feeling eye strain as they’re reading or start to have headaches after working at the computer for a long period of time. They might start to feel fatigued after long periods of reading as well. Often, they will unconsciously try to compensate for their developing hyperopia by squinting or holding a book farther away than usual. These symptoms generally indicate that a person needs to have an eye exam, even if they already have glasses or contact lenses. It can indicate that they need a new prescription or need to get glasses. Tests done to diagnose hyperopia can include a retinal exam, refraction test, glaucoma test, eye movement test, and slit-lamp exam. Hyperopia can be a factor for lazy eye and for glaucoma, and in some severe cases, it can cause a person to have difficulty seeing objects at any distance, not just close up.

Many younger people who suffer from hyperopia actually don’t realize that they are farsighted because their eyes naturally compensate for the shortness of the eye or the lack of curvature. However, around the time they turn 40, the eye starts to lose its ability to naturally accommodate for this, and they begin to lose the ability to see up close. This is why many people need to get bi-focals or full glasses as they get older.

Hyperopia is caused by the way light rays enter the eye, which is actually shorter in a person with hyperopia than in a person without. Instead of focusing directly on the retina like normal, the rays focus behind it. This does not allow the eye to focus on items near to a person. If the cornea isn’t curved quite as much as it should be, hyperopia can also occur. Often, children are born with hyperopia, but as they grow and their eyes lengthen, their vision actually corrects itself.

Treating hyperopia is most commonly done with glasses or contact lenses. These lenses, which are shaped in a convex shape, change the way the rays of light bend when they enter the eye, forcing them to fall directly on the retina as they should. Some people with more advanced hyperopia need to wear their glasses or contacts all the time; some may only need to wear them when they’re reading, using the computer, or doing other types of work that require them to see things close up. Prescriptions for those who have hyperopia start with a plus sign, such as +3.00.

Another option for hyperopia is refractive surgery, most commonly referred to as LASIK. LASIK can completely correct the problem with the eyes, meaning the person never has to wear glasses or contact lenses again. Other options that are currently being tested include things like corneal onlays and inlays, although testing is still ongoing.

Last updated on Dec 10th, 2009 and filed under Vision Care. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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