Hyperopia or farsightedness is one of a group of eye conditions known as refractive errors. Refractive errors interfere with the way light rays are focused within the eye. If you are farsighted, you can focus better on distant objects but not well on nearby objects.
What causes hyperopia?
The most common cause of hyperopia is a normal variation in the shape of the eyeball. The length of the eyeball may be shorter than normal. In other words, the eyeball is shorter from front to back than is normal. In other cases, the cornea may be less curved, causing hyperopia. Hyperopia is not a disease nor does it mean you have ‘bad eyes’. It simply means that you have a normal variation in the shape of your eyeball. There are few perfectly shaped eyeballs, just as most sets of teeth are not perfectly shaped or aligned. There are many individual variations. The degree of variation from the ideal determines whether or not you will need corrective lenses.
How does hyperopia affect sight?
To fully understand why hyperopia causes a disturbance in sight, it is important to understand the process by which sight occurs. For clear vision to occur, the lens of the eye directs light rays towards the retina, and the light rays must come together to a fine point and strike the retina at exactly the right place called the fovea. If the eyeball is too short or the cornea is too flat the point of light is focused at a location behind the retina, instead of its correct position. Patients with hyperopia need to wear convex or ‘magnifying’ glasses to bend the light more so the light gets focused on the retina.
Who is affected by hyperopia?
Many people have a degree of farsightedness, yet it is only a problem if it affects our ability to see well. Over half of the people who wear glasses do so because of hyperopia or presbyopia (another problem of focusing up close).
What are the symptoms?
A person who is farsighted may have trouble concentrating or focusing on objects close up such as a book or newspaper. After viewing nearby objects for a long period of time, blurred vision, eyestrain, tension, and headaches can occur. A person simply may not enjoy reading, or if the person is a child, poor reading ability may result. Hyperopia causes the eyes to exert extra effort to focus. That extra effort can cause tension and discomfort. If the eye cannot bring objects into focus, blurred vision is the result.
How is it diagnosed?
Unlike some eye problems, hyperopia is seldom diagnosed in school eye-screening tests. Screening tests usually involve reading objects at a distance, but farsighted children may be able to see distant objects very well. It is focusing on nearby objects that present more of a problem. Hyperopia must be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye health examination when both near and far vision is checked.
How is hyperopia treated?
Corrective eyewear (eyeglasses or contact lenses) is usually prescribed to treat hyperopia. If you do not have other vision problems, such as Astigmatism, you may need only to wear glasses for reading or other tasks done at close range. The best option for you depends on your individual characteristics.
Your Optometrist may ask you a number of questions to help determine the best method of treatment. You can assist in the process by answering these questions to the best of your ability. You may be asked to describe your usual lifestyle or daily activities. For instance, you may be asked whether or not you frequently need near vision. If you read for a large part of the day, correction of the problem might involve different options from that of a person who is not as dependent on near vision. Your lifestyle, occupation, types of recreational activities, and your general health status will help your Optometrist choose the lenses that would best suit you.
A comprehensive eye examination at the recommended intervals ensures that minor changes in vision can be diagnosed and treated so that your vision will remain as clear and comfortable as possible.
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