Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia or hypermetropia, is a refractive error resulting from improper refraction of light in the eye. In this condition, the eye doesn't refract light properly to a single focus point, making it difficult to see images. With hyperopia, distant objects appear clear, while close objects look blurry.
Please note hyperopia is a condition (refractive error), not an eye disease.
According to EyeWiki, approximately 10% of the American population has farsightedness.
Hyperopia can manifest differently for different individuals. Some people may not notice any vision problems, especially when they are young. But for people with significant farsightedness, vision may be unclear for objects at any distance, both near and far.
To focus light properly on the retina (the layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye), the light rays must be refracted by the cornea (the clear front part of the eye) and the eye's lens. The retina receives the focused image and sends it to the brain through the optic nerve.
In hyperopia, the focal plane shifts slightly behind the retina. That results in a blurry image up close and a clear image in the distance.
Farsightedness occurs when the eye is shorter than normal or when the cornea is too flat.
Due to these conditions, light focuses behind the retina instead of directly on it. This allows for clear distance vision but results in blurry vision for nearby objects.
Hypermetropia is often hereditary.
Common symptoms of hypermetropia include:
Difficulty focusing on close objects (e.g., reading a book or using a pen)
Eye strain and discomfort, often around the eyes
Headaches after prolonged close work (e.g., reading, using a computer, or drawing)
Frequent occurrence of styes on the eyelids
Hyperopia can cause distant objects to appear clear while nearby objects may appear blurry. This can make it difficult to read, write, or perform close-up tasks and tasks that require good near vision. For example, sewing, drawing, or fine motor activities.
People with farsightedness often have to exert extra effort to focus on nearby objects. Leading to eye strain, headaches, and discomfort.
Important note: Children can compensate for hypermetropia by adjusting their eye lens to focus, making it easy to miss this condition. Regular pediatric eye check-ups play a crucial role in early detection.
Your eye doctor can diagnose hypermetropia after an eye examination.
They will assess whether it is hypermetropia using standard vision tests. Those include the Snellen chart, as well as instrument-based tests with autorefractometer.
Following are a few effective methods for treating farsightedness:
Mild to moderate farsightedness does not necessarily require treatment.
The lenses in the glasses for hyperopia correction are convex lenses (+). Children and infants are more likely to tolerate glasses when they need optical correction.
The prescription for farsightedness in glasses AND contact lenses is a plus (+).
2. Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are also a popular hyperopia treatment option:
Match the curvature of the eye, providing a wider field of vision compared to glasses
Convenient for various sports and activities
Not affected by weather conditions (e.g. do not fog up in cold weather)
If you haven't worn contact lenses for your hyperopia before, you better start with daily disposable lenses. Daily lenses are a great way to learn how to insert and remove them and find if they would be a comfortable solution for you.
3. Laser Correction
There are different types of laser surgeries. The most common ones are LASIK and PRK.
Refractive surgery typically changes the shape of the transparent part of the eye (the cornea) using a special laser. The procedure takes about 5 minutes and is completely painless.
The recovery period varies depending on the type of surgery (LASIK and PRK). It ranges from several days to several weeks. After the recovery period, you can fully return to your daily activities with excellent near and distant vision!
For more information about laser correction of farsightedness, click here: Laser Correction 101
There is NO one-size-fits-all method for treating hypermetropia.
The most appropriate correction depends on factors like your eye health and your lifestyle. Discuss your daily routine and habits with your eye doctor to determine which treatment is most suitable for you. For example, if you engage in active sports, contact lenses or laser correction might be the most suitable option for you.
The Myths of Alternative Treatment of Farsightedness
Many of you are probably wondering if there are alternative methods for treating farsightedness. There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding alternative treatments for hyperopia which are superficial.
Let's talk facts, farsightedness is primarily a result of the shape of the eye, and eye exercises can NOT change the anatomical factor. What's more, there is NO scientific evidence to support the claim that pinhole glasses, herbal supplements, homeopathic remedies, or alternative medicines can treat or improve farsightedness.
Here is the statement of the AAO:
"There is no evidence to suggest that eye exercises, vitamins, or pills can prevent or cure farsightedness." — American Academy of Ophthalmology
Farsightedness Complications and Conditions
One of the complications of farsightedness without correction in childhood is lazy eye (amblyopia). Amblyopia occurs when one eye develops weaker vision than the other due to a lack of visual stimulation. It can affect one or both eyes of the child. Detecting and treating hyperopia in children early can prevent this condition.
Other conditions in people with farsightedness are strabismus (crossed eyes) and closed-angle glaucoma. Uncorrected hyperopia may result in strabismus, a condition where the eyes do not align properly, causing double vision and other visual problems. In rare cases, severe hyperopia may also increase the risk of developing glaucoma, a serious eye condition, and an ophthalmology emergency leading to vision loss.
As people age, their ability to focus on close-up objects (accommodation) decreases. This is not a severe, but rather a natural complication but it does affect the lifestyle of the patient. This can exacerbate farsightedness and make it more challenging to see nearby objects.
RELATED: Eye Conditions from Old Age
Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.