Hyperopia is a condition that results from the eye being smaller, or shorter (from front to back) than normal. When we look at a distant object, the light rays bounce off the object and travel toward our eyes. With normal vision, the light rays pass through the various parts of the eye and focus on the retina (the layer lining the inside of the eye), allowing for clear vision. When the eye is slightly smaller or shorter than normal – as is the case with farsightedness – the light rays will not focus directly on the retina, which can lead to blurred or distorted vision.
Unlike the nearsighted eye, the farsighted eye (depending on the severity of hyperopia and the age of the eye) has a mechanism in place that may still allow for clear vision. This is due to the fact that the natural lens inside the eye can change shape in an autofocusing process also known as accommodation. When your eyes are focusing, small muscles in your eye can pull on this natural lens, changing the way the light rays are bent, and allowing the light rays to focus directly on the retina. This focusing process is the reason that many people have hyperopia can see clearly at both distance and near. As the eye ages, the natural lens inside the eye becomes hard, which make it more difficult for the small focusing muscles to change the shape of the lens. As the muscles in the eye have more difficulty changing the shape of the lens, the farsighted eye loses its ability to “focus” for clear vision.
Usually, someone who has hyperopia will notice this blurred vision when looking at near objects such as a book or computer screen. As time passes, and the eye’s natural lens becomes harder, it is common for distant objects to become blurry as well. For this reason, it is very common for someone who has been farsighted their whole life to start having visual problems later in life, sometimes as early as their 20’s or 30’s. Hyperopia prescriptions are often present at birth and, if small, is usually not a concern but with larger prescriptions can cause eye turns and/or a failure of the visual system to develop properly; a condition called Amblyopia
Treatment of Hyperopia or Farsightedness
The visual problems associated with hyperopia can be remedied by prescribing glasses to take the pressure off of the eyes’ focusing muscles. Both single vision lenses as well as bifocal or progressive lenses can be used based upon the severity of the prescription and the age of the patient. Contact lenses can also be useful in providing excellent vision to those who are farsighted. There are also surgical options that may be effective in correcting farsightedness. If you are interested in seeking a surgical solution for farsightedness, please speak with one of our doctors who will be happy to assess if you are a candidate for surgery and answer any questions you may have.