Hyperopia

Description

Hyperopia is known as long-sightedness (also known as hypermetropia). When a person is long-sighted, they can see objects which are further away more easily than those nearer to them. This condition can present at any age, but is more common among people over 40 years of age. In such cases where the eye loses the power to focus on near objects, the condition is known as presbyopia. This condition can be corrected in a number of ways to enable more comfortable vision. If uncorrected, hyperopia can lead to eyestrain. Most people will have glasses that they need to wear for reading, watching TV, and up-close activities.

Symptoms

Children may squint their eyes when looking at objects near to them, may have trouble with reading and may be blinking their eyes more than normal. However in some cases, the symptoms of hyperopia may not be very visible in children and may go unnoticed. The lens within a child’s eye can be more flexible and there may be little evidence of problems with vision. As such, it is important for a child to have regular eye tests. If left undetected, this condition may lead to eyestrain or other eye conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (crossed eyes). In adults, the lens is less flexible and symptoms are more noticeable. Symptoms may include seeing objects close to you appearing blurred or fuzzy. There may be problems with reading, writing, looking at a computer screen or mobile phone. Individuals can feel pain, tiredness or burning in the eyes and may experience headaches.

Causes

Vision occurs when light rays are bent as the pass through the front window of the eye (cornea) and the lens. This light is then focused on the retina at the back of the eye where it is converted into messages that are delivered to the brain, and interpreted as images. With hyperopia, light rays from nearby objects are not focused properly onto the retina, but instead they’re focused behind the retina. It can have a number of causes. This includes having an eyeball which is too short, having a lens which is not able to focus light onto the retina properly or having a cornea which is too flat. There are suggestions that some cases of hyperopia may be inherited. It is also known that some cases of hyperopia are due to increasing age. There are other medical conditions which can lead to hyperopia. These include diabetes and tumours around the eye.

Diagnosis

Hyperopia is diagnosed through a number of tests which are important for providing the correct diagnosis. This can include taking clinical tests, medical history and a family history. A harmless medical device known as a retinoscope is used to shine light inside the eye to observe the reflection off the retina. A refractor may also be used to measure the exact refractive error (level of far-sightedness in this case) of the eyes. This will help to determine the correct glasses prescription to correct the visual impairment. All eye movements and coordination abilities will be examined. The eye care professional will examine the eyes for signs of any other eye conditions which may be causing hyperopia.

Treatment

There is no cure for hyperopia, however with glasses or contact lenses the farsightedness can be corrected by altering the way in which light rays bend in the eye. Some people with hyperopia may not need to wear their glasses or contact lenses all the time, just in situations where they are reading or doing other close-up work. Refractive surgery, also known as LASIK, is an alternative option for correcting hyperopia. Surgery may reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses, however it is possible to develop the need for visual aids once again as you naturally age. General eye check-ups are important for people living with hyperopia, as these individuals may still be at risk of developing other kinds of eye problems that affect the general population, some of which may be treatable. No matter what level of vision a person may have, it is important to look after the eyes. To find out more about what can be done to take care of the eyes on a daily basis, please visit our Tips for Good Eye Health. For further information, please contact the Research Department on 01 6789004 or email research@fightingblindness.ie.

Research

Researchers continue to actively search for novel ways to treat hyperopia. Investigational procedures involving corneal transplants are being looked at as a possible future option for treating hyperopia. Information about clinical trials that are on-going and completed can be found on the clinical trials website and can be searched by both condition and location.

Supports

Receiving a diagnosis can be overwhelming for anyone, but this is not a journey that you have to make alone. There are many groups and resources available to provide support for people living with Stargardt Disease. Fighting Blindness offers a free and confidential counselling service (Insight Counselling). For further information please contact insight@fightingblindness.ie or call 01 6746496. We also offer support groups for people with a visual impairment to share their feelings and experiences with others facing the same challenges. Please consult the support groups section of our website here to access the latest timings and days for the various support groups we offer. For further information please contact insightgroups@fightingblindness.ie or call 01 6746496.

Resources

Féach provides support for parents of children living with sight loss in Ireland. ChildVision is the national education centre for children with sight loss in Ireland. Vision Ireland, formerly NCBI (National Council for the Blind in Ireland) provides support and services for people living with sight loss in Ireland. Irish Guide Dogs for the blind helps individuals and their families to achieve improved mobility and independence.