OHSU

Hyperopia

In its simplest sense, farsightedness or hyperopia means that the eye focuses better on distant objects than on those that are close.

Children with mild to moderate degrees of farsightedness can see both distance and near without correction because the muscles and lens within their eyes can overcome the farsightedness. Adults with hyperopia or farsightedness may have difficulty focusing on objects close up, such as print in a book. As they mature, these same adults may have difficulty focusing on distant objects, as well.

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Causes

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. Ideally, the cornea and lens, the two focusing structures in the eye, focus images directly on the surface of the retina. If the eye is too short, or the focusing power too weak, the image is focused behind the retina. At the retinal surface, the image is blurred. Thus, the vision, too, is blurred.

Hyperopia often runs in families. It is often present at birth; however, many children outgrow it.

Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on nearby objects
  • Fatigue or headache after performing a close task such as reading

If you experience these symptoms of hyperopia while wearing your glasses or contact lenses, you may need a new prescription.

Treatment

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 shape the cornea so that light rays can focus closer to, or even on the retina.
  • LASIK. During laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK), a flap is created through the top of the cornea, a laser removes some corneal tissue, and the flap is replaced. LASIK is the most common surgery used to correct farsightedness.

Talk to your eye doctor about which treatment is best for you.