What is Longsightedness?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Longsightedness, also known as hyperopia, is a vision problem where people have difficulty focusing on close objects, although their distance vision may be good. Some people with this condition also have trouble seeing distant objects, depending on the exact nature of their longsightedness. In cases where the problem is severe enough to need treatment, a doctor will usually recommend corrective lenses to help the patient see. It is also possible to receive surgery to reshape the cornea and improve visual acuity.

Laser surgery can be used to treat longsightedness.
Laser surgery can be used to treat longsightedness.

This condition usually runs in families. People with hyperopia either have corneas lacking sufficient curvature to focus light properly, or have short eyeballs, forcing the focal point behind the back of the eye and leading to blurred vision and difficulty seeing. Families with a history of longsightedness should be alert to the early warning signs in children so they can receive treatment. In children it often manifests as trouble with schoolwork or difficulty with learning to read, and teachers should make sure struggling children get medical evaluations to find out why they are having trouble.

A person with longsightedness has difficulty seeing things close up.
A person with longsightedness has difficulty seeing things close up.

People with this condition may not immediately recognize a vision problem. The brain works very hard to compensate for poor visual acuity and instead of identifying problems with vision in the close to medium range, the patient might get dizzy, experience headaches and eye strain, and have trouble reading. The longsightedness can grow worse over time but the progression is usually slow enough that people do not notice until they receive an eye exam.

People with longsightedness may experience eye strain and headaches.
People with longsightedness may experience eye strain and headaches.

Some cases are very mild and the patient does not require any medical treatment. If a patient has trouble seeing up close, the doctor might recommend a simple pair of reading glasses to help with activities like reading. In cases where the vision problem makes it difficult to function, corrective lenses are necessary. The doctor can determine an appropriate prescription, and the patient may opt for glasses or contact lenses, depending on preference.

People with longsightedness may also consider laser surgery on their eyes. A doctor will usually recommend waiting until the patient is fully grown to give the eyes time to stabilize before performing the procedure. Using a laser, a surgeon can precisely reshape the cornea to move the focal point to the retina where it belongs, improving visual acuity and increasing comfort. One advantage to laser surgery is that people don't need to worry about caring for lenses, a potential issue for people in rough working environments.

Contact lenses can be made to correct vision problems such as hypermetropia, or far-sightedness.
Contact lenses can be made to correct vision problems such as hypermetropia, or far-sightedness.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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