What is hyperopia?
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a refractive defect or error in visual focusing. Images are focused behind the retina so vision becomes blurred, especially up close. LASIK is one of the techniques to correct hyperopia.
What causes it?
Hyperopia is, in most cases, an inherited refractive defect. It is caused by the diameter of the eyeball being smaller than normal or the cornea being too flat.
Most babies are hyperopic at birth (physiological hyperopia), a defect that is corrected as the eye develops, and usually disappears during adolescence. If it is not fully corrected by this age, it is likely that it will persist for life, but will stabilise.
How can it be prevented?
Hyperopia cannot be prevented but regular eye examinations, especially in childhood, help to detect it in its early stages. Occasionally, a comprehensive eye examination is the only way to diagnose hyperopia.
It is advisable for people who have been diagnosed with hyperopia to have their eyes checked once a year because hyperopia can be associated with other diseases, such as glaucoma.
The main symptom is blurred vision of nearby objects. Most patients with hyperopia, however, are usually asymptomatic in their youth, as they are able to compensate for poor near vision through the accommodative ability of the crystalline lens (the eye’s natural lens whose elasticity enables objects to be focused on). The crystalline lens’s elasticity is lost with age.
Constant movement of the eye’s muscles in young patients can cause symptoms that are not directly related to vision, such as headaches and fatigue, pain or redness of the eye.
Gestures such as rubbing the eyes or wrinkling the forehead on a regular basis may be the first signs of hyperopia.
In the case of children, parents should be particularly attentive to certain symptoms, some of which are not usually associated with vision, such as underachievement at school or the inability to adapt.
If hyperopia in children remains untreated it can cause strabismus (deviation of the eyes) or amblyopia (also known as lazy eye). It is important that children have regular eye tests.
Hyperopia can easily be corrected by wearing glasses with converging lenses or contact lenses.
Even if the degree of hyperopia is small, correction is still advisable to prevent secondary problems such as headaches or eye irritation.
If the patient prefers not to wear glasses or contact lenses, some corneal refractive surgery techniques are available for patients with a low degree of hyperopia.
Another option is phakic lenses (between the cornea and the crystalline lens), indicated for patients with greater defects. For patients over the age of 40-45, pseudophakic lenses (replacement of the crystalline lens) can also be a solution.
Refractive surgery to correct hyperopia is particularly delicate and requires an exhaustive evaluation in order to select the best treatment.