Hyperopia is the same as long-sightedness and hypermetropia. Here are 5 key points on hyperopia:
- Causes both blurred distance and reading vision
- Can be asymptomatic when young, becomes more noticeable with age
- In children, it is important to identify severe cases early
- Long-sightedness is an inherited condition
- Corrected with spectacles or contact lenses
What is Hyperopia?
Long-sightedness and short-sightedness are often confused. With hyperopia, long distance vision is often better than close vision. However, both long and short vision can be blurred.
A clear, focused image forms on the sensory retina due to the eye’s focusing system. Hyperopia causes light to focus behind the retina, resulting in a blurred image. Consequently, this causes blurred distance vision when the eye is relaxed. Near vision is also more difficult to achieve.
Long-sightedness is often hidden in children and young adults, because the eye can compensate in younger years. The accommodating lens within the eye changes shape to enable you to see clearly at closer working distances. Hyperopic eyes use the same system to focus at distance.
However, over time, the internal lens of the eye becomes less flexible. So, reading becomes more difficult and eventually distance vision also declines. This presents as early onset presbyopia.
Most importantly, an inwardly turning eye may occur in children. Amblyopia is an important and avoidable vision problem in children. It requires early intervention (prior to school age) to avoid lifelong vision problems. So, an eye test for children should occur every two years from birth, right through school years.
Causes of Long-Sightedness
The axial length of the eyeball is slightly shorter than it should be. In other words, the eye is slightly smaller than normal. Furthermore, an under-strength focusing system of the eye can also cause long-sightedness. This might be due to a flat cornea or a slightly thin accommodating lens. Hyperopia is probably inherited from parents.
When young, the symptoms of hyperopia can be masked. Patients often first report that prolonged reading can result in fatigue and headaches and blurred vision. Eventually distance vision also becomes blurry without correction.
With hyperopia, relaxed eyes will have blurred vision at both distance and near. It is important to realise that the eye’s accommodative function makes it difficult to identify symptoms yourself.
A vision test by an optometrist will expose long-sightedness. Testing visual acuity on the eye chart with diagnostic lenses determines the level of hyperopia. Further tests will uncover the full degree of concealed long-sightedness.
Prescription spectacles and contact lenses correct hyperopia. Early age (pre-school) detection and management of moderate and high amounts of long-sightedness is essential.
Reducing your risk
Being hyperopic is like being tall or short; there is no way of avoiding what genes you get from your parents. You can reduce your risk of developing symptoms like headaches and eye strain by managing your condition from an early age.