Hyperopia (Longsightedness)

Longsightedness, A.K.A. hyperopia. In hyperopia, it becomes difficult to see close objects clearly without making a more effort than normal. In mild cases the eyes may be able to compensate in childhood and early adult life without any problems. In moderate levels or as the eyes age and they become less well able to compensate, spectacles may be necessary for concentrated close tasks such as reading or computer work. In high levels of hyperopia it may be impossible to sustain clear focus for close work at all and spectacles may be needed all the time. High levels of uncorrected hyperopia in children can lead to a turn in the eyes (squint) and the development of a lazy eye and need swift diagnosis and aggressive treatment to allow the eyes to reach their full adult potential.

What causes Hyperopia?

In hyperopia, the eyeball is too short or the cornea (the clear window at the front of the eye) too flat so that light entering the eye is not focused correctly on the retina ( the back of the eye). The causes of hyperopia are thought to be mostly hereditary. Those families with one hyperopic child should ensure that others are checked particularly if there is a family history of squint.

What are the symptoms of Hyperopia?

In mild to moderate long sight it is difficult to concentrate on near objects for long without eyestrain, fatigue, irritability and often headaches. There may not be blurred vision because the eyes muscles are constantly refocusing the work, but the symptoms are reflected in the increasing tiredness caused by the prolonged excess effort. After long periods of close work the eyes may become achy and tired and if the muscles cannot sustain the refocusing effort the vision will blur intermittently. This can cause loss of concentration and will interfere with schoolwork in the case of a child.

How can Hyperopia be managed?

If the hyperopia is mild to moderate spectacles are prescribed for close and concentrated tasks only, if it is severe or the patient is a child at risk of developing a squint or a lazy eye, spectacles will be prescribed for constant use. Contact lenses may also be used.

Can I do anything to stop Hyperopia getting worse?

Unfortunately, as we age the lens in the eye becomes harder and the focusing muscles find it more difficult to keep close things clear. This means that longsighted people find they will use their spectacles more as they get older. As this is an inevitable consequence of the aging process we need to manage this deterioration be ensuring that the spectacles (or contact lenses) are kept up to date to ensure the best vision. I have heard that hyperopic can cause a squint - is this true? Yes, uncorrected hyperopic in young children can cause what is termed an accommodative squint or turn in the eye. This is because, in order to try to produce a clear image, the eyes over-accommodate and over converge (turn in ). One eye may remain permanently turned in if this is not noticed or corrected at a very early stage.