Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

Dr. Ajay Mohan (AIIMS)MBBS

May 23, 2020

May 23, 2020


Hyperopia is a common eye problem in which one can see objects that are far away clearly but has trouble looking at objects that are nearer to them.

In people who are born with this condition, the eyes are better equipped to focus on objects that are at a distance, while things that are closer can appear to be blurry. This happens either because the cornea (outermost layer) of the eye is not curved enough or if the eyeball is smaller than normal.

You may have seen either children or adults squinting to see nearby objects. It is a common trait among children with mild to moderate levels of hyperopia.

Also known as hypermetropia, farsightedness or long-sightedness, this condition is quite common among children: approximately 10 million cases of hyperopia are reported in India in a year alone. (Read more: Vision problems in babies)

That said, refractive errors as a whole are quite common in India: studies show that 8-10% of Indian children, especially school-going children, have various types of refractive errors, including hyperopia, myopia or nearsightedness, and astigmatism.

Hyperopia can make tasks like reading and working on the computer difficult. But the problem can usually be fixed with spectacles, contact lenses or eye surgery like LASIK.

Read on to know more.

Hyperopia symptoms

There are a few tell-tale signs that a child may be developing hyperopia, especially as it usually occurs by the time a child is able to explain the difficulty he or she is experiencing with vision. Some of the signs include:

  • Objects close to the eyes appear blurry.
  • The child needs to squint to be able to see closer objects clearly.
  • Reading, watching television or other such activities for a long period of time leads to tiredness or headaches
  • Eye strain, a burning sensation in the eyes and eye pain.
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Hyperopia causes

Vision problems such as farsightedness appear at birth and tend to be genetic. In normal vision, light reflected from an object passes through a clear and perfectly smooth cornea (outer surface of the eye), and falls on to the retina of the eye. The resulting image is then sent to the brain to process. 

In hyperopia, the rays of light do not focus and fall on the retina in the way they are meant to. If the power to focus is weakened, the image doesn't form on the retina, but somewhere behind it, making objects appear blurry.

A refractive error occurs due to a misalignment of the individual parts of the eye, as each of the elements—the cornea, the lens and the retina—have to be lined up perfectly with just the right curvatures to let the light pass into the eye and form an image on the retina.

The cornea and the lens work together to refract the light to make a sharp image on the retina which is at the back of the eye. If the cornea or lens aren't curved properly, it results in a refractive error.

In the case of hyperopia, the eyeball is smaller than the average size or the cornea isn't curved properly, resulting in blurry vision while viewing objects close to the eye. Sometimes adults also complain of blurry vision for objects both close to them and placed far away.

Hyperopia diagnosis

If a child or adult is having difficulty going about their day-to-day activities because they can't see properly, or if they are squinting to see faraway objects, then it may be time to visit an ophthalmologist.

A basic eye exam is usually enough for a doctor to diagnose farsightedness and its degree. Reading charts, corrective lenses and special equipment can help a doctor determine if the child or adult has hyperopia. A retinoscope is used thereafter to find out how light reflects off the retina, according to which corrective measures are prescribed.

Not being able to focus or concentrate on simple tasks—whether they are for work or entertainment—can affect the overall quality of life of a person. However, an eye doctor can determine the degree of your problem and set you on the correct path based on your symptoms and assessment of your vision.

Both children and adults are recommended to go for eye check-ups if they feel they are having difficulty in their vision. Adults are advised to get regular eye tests done if they are at risk of underlying conditions such as diabeteshigh blood pressure or even a family history of eye problems.

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Hyperopia treatment

Some children may not even require extensive treatment for their farsightedness, as the eye muscles can adjust to the light entering the eyes. However, children with a greater degree of difficulty may be advised to wear spectacles or contact lenses to improve their vision to see objects close to the eyes. Wearing glasses or lenses is important as the symptoms or condition can worsen with age.

There are a variety of refractive surgical procedures also available to correct the vision of the eyes. LASIK eye surgeries are also performed to treat hyperopia, although the procedure is more common while treating myopia or nearsightedness. The laser-assisted surgery corrects the cornea's curvature so that the light entering the retina becomes focused.

Hyperopia complications

Hyperopia usually develops early (in childhood) and can be easily diagnosed. However, the degree of the problem can worsen if not treated in time.

Complications arising out of hyperopia do not affect adults as much as children, and they include:

  • Cross eyes: Some children develop cross-eyes or strabismus if hyperopia is not treated on time. An individual is not able to look in the same direction with both eyes, as one of the eyes may turn inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards while the other is positioned at the centre.
  • Lazy eye: Also known as amblyopia, lazy eye generally affects one of the eyes of the child, as vision does not develop properly in that eye. The brain favours the strong eye and ignores the weak one as a result, leading to further deterioration of vision in the weak eye.
  • Eye strain: Repeatedly squinting to focus at an object close to the eyes can lead to eye strain in children, resulting in reduced focus and headaches.
  • Learning difficulties: Farsightedness, if it goes unchecked, can lead to a loss in the child's ability to concentrate, leading to learning difficulties and being unable to enjoy different activities in their formative years.
  • Safety issues: Uncorrected or unchecked farsightedness can lead to hazardous situations later in life, especially while performing tasks that require good vision, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.
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Hyperopia or farsightedness is a common vision problem experienced by children as well as adults—it affects a large portion of the population. However, it must be diagnosed in time to avoid complications. Hyperopia can be treated with the help of spectacles, contact lenses or even fixed permanently through surgery.