Farsightedness

A large percentage of the population suffer from hyperopia or farsightedness but only a small amount of these are severely affected. Luckily, for those that are affected by severe farsightedness, there's more treatments for the condition than ever before. For those who have moderate to severe farsightedness, there can be problems with focusing vision on objects that are near and this can cause problems with daily activities such as reading. Those suffering from very severe farsightedness also face issues when focusing on objects in the distance which can cause problems with driving and other activities. Research has shown that the occurrence of farsightedness increases with age and many people over the age of 65 having some degree of farsightedness.

Causes

Farsightedness is part of a group of refractive errors which includes astigmatism and nearsightedness (myopia). When you have a refractive error it means that light rays bend incorrectly into your eye. In a normal eye, light enters and is focused directly on the retina, with hyperopia the light is focused behind the retina. These problems with the way light enters the eye can be caused by an excessively flat cornea or short eye. Research has also shown that hyperopia has a strong genetic factor as it often runs in families. It's also present at birth but fortunately, many children tend to outgrow it.

The Symptoms

As with many refractive errors, farsightedness is easily diagnosed by a simple eye exam and its most common symptoms include;

  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue or headache after reading
  • Difficulty focusing on objects that are close up

Treatment

In order for hyperopia to be corrected, its necessary to change the way the rays of light bend when entering your eye. Glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery are all options for treating farsightedness. Depending on the severity of your farsightedness, you may require glasses or contact lenses at all times or only when viewing objects close up, like reading. The most common surgical options for treating farsightedness include;

LASIK (Laser assisted in situ keratomileusis) In this method a flap is cut through the top of the cornea and then some corneal tissue is removed by using a laser. The flap is then placed back into place before being covered to help it heal naturally. In most cases, this doesn't take long and stable vision can return as soon as a day after surgery.
PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy) During this procedure a laser is used to flatten out the cornea so that the rays of light can easily focus closer to the retina.
Intacs (corneal rings) These thin plastic rings can help physically alter the shape of the cornea in order to focus light properly and can be left in permanently.

Important notice