You’ve probably heard the term “farsightedness” before, but do you know what it means? Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is condition of the eyes that alters the way you see. People with hyperopia have difficulty seeing things up close, but are able to see things farther away without much trouble. It’s not considered a disease as much as a “variation from normal,” but it still has noticeable symptoms that affect between 5 and 10 percent of Americans. Here’s a look at these symptoms, how they’re caused, and how they can be treated.
How does an eye with hyperopia work?
When waves travel from one medium to another, it does so in a process called “refraction.” The same phenomenon exists in the eye—waves of light enter the eye and are refracted as they pass through it. The light is then focused at a certain point and sent to the brain, where it’s converted into images.
The shape of your eye can affect this refraction process. Hyperopia generally occurs when the eye is too short, or doesn’t have the right kind of retina curve or lens location. This causes light to hit behind the retina, instead of directly on it, leading to difficulty seeing objects up close.
Symptoms of hyperopia include:
- • Blurred vision at all distances, especially at night
- • Difficulty seeing objects close to the face—many people with hyperopia can’t read correctly without treatment
- • Headaches or eye aches, or strain in the eye
- • Squinting
- • Rubbing eyes or difficulty reading (in children)
Some children don’t show any symptoms of hyperopia, unless their cases are very severe.
Causes and Risk Factors
Hyperopia is caused by variations in the shape of the eye, and genetics play a major role. In rare situations, diseases like retinopathy and tumors can also affect the shape of your eye. Many cases of childhood hyperopia, however, can correct themselves on their own through normal growth, a process called accommodation.
Ophthalmologists use a dilated eye examination to diagnose hyperopia. You may also be asked questions about any eyesight problems you’re having, and have a physical exam. Other vision tests might be used if needed.
A different treatment methods might be recommended for hyperopia:
- • Eyeglasses: These are considered the safest and easiest way to manage hyperopia.
- • Contact lenses: Some people find even greater vision results from contact lenses over glasses, though they do require more cleaning and upkeep, and they might not be right for certain people. Ask your doctor if they will work for you.
- • Refractive surgery: This is a type of surgery, that includes procedures like LASIK, performed to change the shape of the cornea to eliminate hyperopia. This option should be discussed with your doctor before you consider it seriously.
If you have farsightedness or notice your child developing the symptoms of hyperopia, speak to your doctor about your options and continue to schedule regular eye exams.
Revere Health Ophthalmology offers patients the best in eye care, from glasses and contacts to treatment of eye-related diseases and conditions.
“Facts About Hyperopia.” National Eye Institute. https://nei.nih.gov/health/errors/hyperopia
“Farsightedness (Hyperopia) – Topic Overview.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/tc/farsightedness-hyperopia-topic-overview#1
“Vision Tests.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/vision-tests#1