People with hyperopia or farsightedness have difficulty focusing on objects close up, such as print in a book. More severe hyperopia would also cause problems with seeing objects in the distance clearly, such as highway signs.
The occurrence of hyperopia increases with age; At least half of all persons over the age of 65 have some degree of farsightedness.
What Causes Farsightedness?
Hyperopia is a refractive error, like astigmatism and nearsightedness (myopia). Having a refractive error means that light rays bend incorrectly into your eye to transmit images to the brain. Farsightedness occurs when light entering the eye focuses behind the retina, instead of directly on it. An abnormally flat cornea or short eye can cause the light to enter the eye this way.
Hyperopia often runs in families. It is often present at birth; however, many children outgrow it.
What Are the Symptoms of Farsightedness?
Symptoms of farsightedness may include:
- Eye strain
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on nearby objects
- Fatigue or headache after performing a close task such as reading
How Is Farsightedness Diagnosed?
Farsightedness can be easily diagnosed by a basic eye exam given by your eye doctor.
How Is Farsightedness Corrected?
To correct hyperopia you must change the way the light rays bend when entering your eye. Glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery can all be used to correct farsightedness.
Depending on the extent of your farsightedness, you may need to wear your glasses or contact lenses at all times, or only when you need to see objects up close, like when reading or sewing. With hyperopia, your prescription is a positive number, such as +3.00. The higher the number, the stronger your lenses will be.
If wearing contacts or glasses isn't for you, refractive surgery can reduce or even eliminate your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The most common procedures to correct hyperopia include:
- PRK. During a photorefractive keratectomy a laser is used to flatten the cornea so that light rays can focus closer to, or even on the retina.
- LASIK. During laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, a flap is cut through the top of the cornea, a laser removes some corneal tissue, and then the flap is dropped back into place. LASIK is the most common surgery used to correct farsightedness.
An even newer procedure for correcting mild hyperopia is the implantation of plastic corneal rings called Intacs, which also alter the shape of the cornea. One advantage of the rings is that they can be left in place permanently, or they may be removed in case of a problem or adjusted should a prescription change become necessary.
Talk to your eye doctor about which treatment is best for you.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute.
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, WebMD, October 2004.
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