Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

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What is Hyperopia?

Long-sightedness, or hyperopia as it is known medically, is a refractive error of the eye that can be compensated for or corrected. It usually occurs when the eyeball is shorter than required for the curvature (refractive power) of the cornea or more generally when there is a mismatch between the refractive power and the length of your eye. This results in light rays coming to focus in front of the retina; for normal crisp vision the light rays need to focus on the retina.

Hyperopia is naturally present at birth and the early years of life; over the first 5 to 6 years the degree of hyperopia gradually decreases through a process known as emmetropisation. Although this process may continue throughout childhood, a significant proportion of the population will remain hyperopic in adulthood.

  • Headache after prolonged activities that require close visual attention; this is often caused by partially closing the eyelids and prolonged effort (accommodation) of your lens
  • In low degrees of hyperopia, the near vision is blurred, and the distance vision remains clear
  • In moderate degrees the near vision is blurred, and the distance vision remains clearer
  • In higher degrees of long-sightedness, or in the fourth and fifth decades of life when the lens increasingly loses its ability to accommodate, the vision becomes blurred for near, intermediate and distance

Similar to other refractive errors, the cause of long-sightedness is not fully understood. Overall, it represents a failure of emmetropisation, the biological process that matches the length of the eye to its refractive power. Genetic factors are considered to play an important role, as the condition does run in families. Rural living and prolonged outdoor activities have also been implicated in studies. 

Long-sightedness and other refractive errors can be diagnosed by your optometrist (optician) or eye doctor. The examination involves a refraction in order to assess the refractive status of the eye. Other conditions that may co-exist, such as squint and lazy eye, can also be detected.

Hyperopia (Long-Sightedness) 1
Hyperopia causes blurred vision at short distances.

Hyperopia Correction

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How can long-sightedness be treated?

Treatment options for hyperopia include glasses, contact lenses and refractive eye surgery:

  • Spectacles are by far the most common modality for the compensation of long-sightedness. However, they are associated with distortion of your peripheral vision, especially for moderate and high prescriptions, and inconveniences, such as getting wet in the rain, fogging when walking indoors, inability to wear sunglasses and the requirement for separate readers, to mention a few.
  • Contact lenses are also commonly used for long-sightedness and other refractive errors. They are a good option as they provide better quality of vision and overcome the above limitations of spectacles. They do have their own limitations though; they do reduce oxygen delivery to the eye, they can cause dry eye and with prolonged use can lead to contact lens intolerance and sight-threatening infection.
  • A more permanent solution to hyperopia can be provided by refractive surgery. Depending on your prescription, eye measurements and visual needs, a variety of procedures are available, including LASIK, PRESBYOND, phakic IOL, e.g. ICL, and refractive lens exchange.
    Laser eye surgery is an excellent treatment modality that reshapes the cornea. In LASIK, excimer laser sculpts the cornea, increasing its refractive power so that the light rays come into focus on the retina of the eye. LASIK can also incorporate a PRESBYOND blended vision treatment in order to reduce or eliminate your need for reading glasses.
  • An Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) is like a permanent plastic contact lens that is implanted inside your eye, in front of your natural lens. No one can see this phakic lens and you cannot feel its presence in your eye. It is a safe alternative to laser surgery, but it is usually reserved for higher prescriptions when laser eye surgery may not be the best option.

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