Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is another common refractive error where distant objects appear clearer than objects up close. A refractive error is when the shape of the eye causes light to bend incorrectly on the retina, thus resulting in blurred vision. Not to be confused with presbyopia which is a part of the natural aging process, hyperopia can occur at any age and people can experience it differently.
Hyperopia develops when the cornea is too flat or the eyeball is too short, causing light rays to focus beyond the retina instead of directly on it. Statistics show that more than 14 million Americans age 40 and older are hyperopic. These type of refractive errors develop in about 1 in 4 people; however, experts believe the condition can be hereditary and can be passed on from one generation to the next. In rare cases, farsightedness can also occur from diabetes, tumors, or underdevelopment of the macula, a small area on the retina.
Some people may have hyperopia and not noticed any problems with their vision, especially when they are younger. However, if severe, people may notice blurriness for objects at any distance, up close or far away. When younger and in mild cases, patients are able to compensate and go about their daily routine without corrective lenses. At any age, individuals with more severe symptoms can simply wear glasses or contact lenses to assist in seeing objects up close.
Besides near objects appearing blurry, other signs and symptoms of hyperopia include eye strain, eye fatigue, headaches, and achy or burning eyes when trying to concentrate on close details.
When treating hyperopia, the goal is to allow the eyes to focus on objects up close. Common treatments to correct this condition include lens implants, different kinds of refractive surgeries, and corrective lenses like contact lenses or glasses. For anyone seeking a more long-term solution, surgical options are available to eliminate the need for glasses.
LASIK and PRK are two types of refractive surgery that can correct this condition for patients with mild to moderate levels of farsightedness. Both involve reshaping the eye. LASIK uses a laser to reshape the cornea by removing parts of the layers underneath it. PRK reshapes the outer part of the eye after discarding a part of the epithelium and then lets it heal to correct the problem.
Refractive lens exchange is another surgical option for hyperopic patients. With this procedure, each eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with a lens implant. A multifocal lens implant, similar to a similar multifocal contact lens, is placed inside your eye and tailored according to your visual demands.
If you or someone you know is farsighted, schedule an eye exam with our experienced ophthalmologists to discuss what treatment options are available and get on the path to clearer vision.