WHAT IS HYPEROPIA?
Hyperopia, commonly referred to as longsightedness, is a condition in which an individual can not see near objects comfortably or clearly. This is due to light entering the eye, and focussing behind the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, called the retina. Generally, hyperopia allows individuals to see more comfortably at distant ranges, with nearer objects being more uncomfortable or blurred.
However, if a significant amount of hyperopia exists the effort of focussing the lens (accommodation) can lead to symptoms. A hyperopic person can have normal vision, however the greater the amount of hyperopia, the harder it is to focus. Vision however may become blurred, particularly for near objects where more focussing effort is required.
In general, children who are slightly hyperopic do not have problems. If they do, they may benefit from eye exercises or need spectacles, mainly for close work such as reading and using computers. Older people, or young people with significant hyperopia, often have problems because focusing requires much effort. Their vision is more likely to be blurred, especially for close objects. They usually need spectacles for reading and sometimes for distance vision as well.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CHILD MAYBE HYPEROPIC?
A complete eye test is the only sure way of determining whether your child's vision is normal. Because a hyperopic person often can see well in the distance, estimating distance vision only may miss hyperopia. Special tests have to be used, including retinoscopy and refraction. Some clues to hyperopia in a child are:
- tired eyes after pronlonged visual work;
- poor concentration
This distraction to reading may effect school work.
HOW IS HYPEROPIA CORRECTED?
Spectacles and contact lenses (hard and soft) can correct hyperopia. Thinner spectacle lenses, also known as hi-index lenses, are available to improve the cosmetic appearance of higher powered prescriptions. Many disposable contact lenses are available in a wide range of parameters meaning that the majority of prescriptions can be corrected accurately. Also laser corrective surgery can be considered to correct hyperopia once the eye has stopped growing, typically from the age of 21 onwards.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HYPEROPIA
It is important for your child to have a full eye examination by the age 3. Upon commencing school, the Optometrists Association Australia recommends that all children be examined regularly during their primary and secondary school years. A balanced lifestyle incorporating outdoor play and regular breaks from concentrated near tasks such as computer use, can help maintain efficient vision in children and young adults. Preventing hyperopia is not generally possible, as it is either an inherited trait, or a normal variation accompanying development.