Hyperopia also known as farsightedness, is a vision problem commonly suffered by people all over the world. In this condition, the patient is not able to see nearby objects clearly; however, he/she can visualize distant objects quite clearly. The ability to focus depends on the degree of the patient's hyperopia. Patients having severe hyperopia or farsightedness can see only those objects which are at extreme distance. Whereas, patients having mild farsightedness can clearly see those objects, which are a bit closer. This condition is usually congenital and tends to be hereditary. Treatment comprises of use of contact lenses, eyeglasses and also surgery.
Causes of Hyperopia or Farsightedness
Refractive Error: When the lens or the cornea is uneven, then the light rays don't get refracted in the proper manner. This is known as a refractive error. Farsightedness is a type of refractive error.
When the curvature of the cornea is decreased or if the eye is shorter than the usual length, then it causes the light to focus behind the retina instead of on the retina. This results in blurry vision of nearby objects (farsightedness).
Other Refractive Errors Include
- Myopia/Nearsightedness: In this, the curvature of the cornea is increased resulting in blurry vision of distant objects and clear vision of close objects.
- Astigmatism: In this, the curvature of the lens or cornea is more in one direction and results in blurry vision.
Signs and Symptoms of Hyperopia or Farsightedness
- Blurry vision of close objects.
- Patient squints in order to see well.
- Burning eyes.
- Pain in the eyes and in the region surrounding the eyes.
- Patient experiences headache after doing tasks such as writing, reading, sewing, computer work for long periods of time.
Investigations for Hyperopia or Farsightedness
Comprehensive eye exam consisting of various tests, of which some may involve looking your eyes with different instruments by aiming bright light straight in your eyes. You may also be told to look through various lenses to examine the different aspects of your eyes and vision.
Treatment for Hyperopia or Farsightedness
The aim of treatment is to focus the light directly on the retina with the help of corrective lenses. Another treatment option includes refractive surgery.
Corrective Lenses: These help in improving your near vision by neutralizing the decreased curve of the cornea or decreased eye length.
Different types of corrective lenses are
- Eyeglasses are available in a wide variety and include bifocals, trifocals and reading glasses.
- Contact Lenses: These too are available in a wide variety and include soft, hard, extended wear, rigid gas permeable, disposable and bifocal. You should discuss with your eye doctor the benefits and side effects of contact lenses and decide which is best suitable for you. For presbyopia, which is an age-related vision problem, monovision contact lenses can be used. Another option is modified monovision where a bifocal contact lens can be worn in the non-dominant eye and a contact lens can be worn in the dominant eye.
Refractive Surgery for Hyperopia or Farsightedness
Refractive Surgery can help not only in treating farsightedness, but also nearsightedness. For farsightedness, the surgical procedure comprises of reshaping the curve of the cornea. Different refractive surgery procedures include:
- Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK): In this procedure the surgeon makes a narrow, circular cut in the cornea. Next, an excimer laser is used to remove the layers from the cornea's center to increase its curvature. After this the corneal flap is placed back.
- Laser-Assisted Subepithelial Keratectomy (LASEK): The surgeon cuts only into the epithelium, which is the thin protective layer of cornea. The excimer laser is used to reshape the outer layers and to increase the curvature of the cornea. The epithelial flap is then repositioned. A bandage contact lens can be worn after the surgery to speed up the healing process.
- Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK): This procedure resembles LASEK, the difference being, the surgeon completely removes the epithelium. Later on the epithelium grows back according to the new shape of the cornea. Bandage contact lens can be worn for a few days after the surgery to enhance the healing process.
- Conductive Keratoplasty (CK): In this, radiofrequency energy is used to focus heat on minute regions around the cornea. The amount of change in the cornea's curvature depends on the spacing and the number of spots targeted. The manner in which the cornea heals also decides the change in the curvature of the cornea.
Potential complications of refractive surgery include:
- Overcorrection or undercorrection of the problem.
- Other vision problems such as seeing a halo around the lights.
- Eye dryness.
- Eye infection.
- Very rarely, vision loss.
Health Tips for Hyperopia or Farsightedness
Farsightedness cannot be prevented, but the following measures can be undertaken to protect your vision and eyes:
- Get regular eye checkups.
- Chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, should be managed properly.
- Symptoms of vision loss such as blurred vision, hazy vision, light flashes, black spots etc. should not be ignored, as they could indicate serious problems like stroke or acute glaucoma.
- Always wear sunglasses with UV protection when out in the sun.
- Always follow a healthy diet consisting of fruits and green leafy vegetables.
- Quit smoking if you are a smoker, as it is not only detrimental for your overall health, but also bad for your eye health.
- Always wear the right prescription glasses.
- Ensure that the lighting is good when reading or working, especially if you are doing close work.