Commonly known as long-sightedness or farsightedness, hyperopia is an issue that affects a large part of the population, especially as we get older. Consultant opthalmologist, Mr Aris Konstantopoulos is here to tell us more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this condition.
Hyperopia, or long-sightedness as it’s commonly known, is a refractive error of the eye which initially causes difficulty seeing things at a short distance, despite having little to no problems seeing into the distance clearly. It happens when there is an imbalance between the length of the eye and the refractive power of the cornea, which causes light rays to come into focus behind the retina, rather than focusing on it, as they do in those with normal vision.
From birth, when the eyes are naturally smaller, hyperopia is present in most people up to the age of 6. As we get older and the eyes grow, the degree of hyperopia lessens in a process called emmetropization. Hyperopia can last into adulthood for a substantial number of people, compromising the quality of vision and life.
What symptoms does long-sightedness cause?
- Headaches after extended periods of visual activity; these occur due to squinting and straining the eyes in order to try and see distant objects. This process is known as accommodation.
- In mild cases of hyperopia, vision becomes blurry when trying to focus on closer things while long-distance vision remains completely clear.
- In more moderate cases, near vision is blurry while distance vision remains comparatively clearer.
- In severe cases of hyperopia, or once a patient enters their forties or fifties when the lens naturally deteriorates by losing its elasticity, vision becomes blurry when looking at objects from most distances (near, intermediate and far).
How can long-sightedness be diagnosed?
Hyperopia and other refractive issues are diagnosed by your eye doctor or optometrist. Diagnosis is reached by assessing the refractive status of the eye (how well it bends light), before checking for other conditions which may also be present such as squint or lazy eye.
How can long-sightedness be treated?
There are a number of treatment options for hyperopia including glasses, contact lenses and various kinds of surgery.
- Glasses, despite being more of a compensation than a cure, are the most popular solution for people with hyperopia. However, there are many issues associated with their use such as distorted peripheral vision, as well as practical issues like fogging, getting wet and needing a separate pair for reading.
- Contact lenses are another popular solution, particularly as they don’t come with the issues mentioned above. Unfortunately, they do come with their own limitations such as reduced oxygen to the eye and dry eye. Extended use can also lead to intolerance and even infection, which can cause loss of sight.
- Refractive surgery can provide patients with a more permanent solution to hyperopia, via a number of different procedures including LASIK, PRESBYOND and lens-based surgery e.g., refractive lens exchange or lens replacement surgery.
- Laser eye surgery is another permanent solution that aims to reshape the cornea in order to increase its refractive capability, so that rays of light come into focus on the retina, therefore improving close vision. LASIK can also be combined with PRESBYOND blended vision treatment in order to improve the vision and also lessen or eradicate the need for reading glasses.
- An implantable Collamer lens (ICL) is a permanent contact lens, made of plastic, that is inserted over the natural lens. An ICL is completely invisible and cannot be felt in the eye. It is a safe and quick (20-30 minutes) alternative to laser surgery, which is typically recommended to patients with more severe hyperopia who may not be able to undergo surgery.
If you're experiencing hyperopia or any other eye-related condition, Mr Konstantopoulos can help. You can request an appointment with him by visiting his profile here.