Hyperopia (or “farsightedness”) is the inability to see objects clearly up close. “Normal” vision, or seeing clearly without corrective lenses, requires light to focus directly on the retinal tissue in the back of your eye. Hyperopia occurs when the eye does not grow as long as it should, causing light to focus behind the retina instead of directly on it. It may also occur if the cornea is too flat or may develop as the lens inside of the eye ages. Hyperopia is most commonly treated with prescription glasses or contact lenses that focus the light correctly on the retina, as shown in the image below.
Hyperopia is often confused with presbyopia, which is the inability to see clearly up close due to a natural aging process inside the eye. Although they both make it difficult to see near objects clearly, they are entirely different vision disorders.
Most infants are born with some degree of hyperopia that fades with time as their eye lengthens with growth. By the age of 1, less than 4% of children still have hyperopia, and this prevalence continues to decrease with age.
Depending on the severity, hyperopia requiring correction may be detected in infancy or may go undiagnosed until discovered at a comprehensive eye exam in adulthood. Symptoms of hyperopia can be more subtle than in patients who have myopia (nearsightedness) and may include the following:
Squinting when trying to see up close
Avoiding or being uninterested in activities that require good close vision (such as reading or homework)
Holding items further away to read them (if you are over the age of 40, this may be due to presbyopia instead of hyperopia)
Aching or burning eyes
Complaining of headaches or eye strain, especially after near work (some children may not be able to verbalize this feeling but it may be noticed as rubbing their eyes, short attention span, or excessive blinking).
Eyes appear crossed, especially when trying to focus up close (This condition is called strabismus, but commonly occurs in hyperopic individuals).
Hyperopia is most commonly treated with glasses or contact lenses. Depending on the severity of the hyperopia, glasses may only be needed for near work or they may be required full-time. Surgical correction is also available for certain levels of hyperopia in the form of LASIK or refractive lens exchange.
If you feel you or your child may be struggling with undiagnosed hyperopia, please contact our office or schedule an eye exam online! Our doctors can discuss your best treatment options during your visit!