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Long-sightedness (hyperopia)

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Long-sightedness (also called far-sightedness or hyperopia) is when someone can see things clearly in the distance but has difficulty seeing close objects clearly.

If you're long-sighted, there's a problem with how your eyes focus. Your eyes, especially the corneas and lenses bend light to focus it on your retina (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye).

Eye illustration showing normal eye with focus on retina and an eye with hyperopia with focus behind the retina.Long-sightedness usually happens because your eyeballs are smaller than normal, or the front surface of your eye (the cornea) is too flat. This means that when your eyes are fully relaxed, light focuses behind the retinas rather than on them. This causes blurry vision.

Many young tamariki (children) are long-sighted, but because their eyes are much better at focusing, they can still see well at a distance and close up. But the effort they have to put in to focus clearly might cause discomfort.

Long-sightedness is usually inherited and happens regardless of the amount of close work you do, how much you rest or exercise and what vitamin supplements you take. Wearing glasses doesn't strengthen or weaken vision in adult eyes. But glasses do make it easier to see more clearly and comfortably.

This type of long-sightedness is different from presbyopia, which most adults get after the age of 40.

Symptoms of long-sightedness

If you're long-sighted you may:

Diagnosing long-sightedness

If you or your tamaiti (child) find it difficult to see, or if you have symptoms such as blurred vision, eye strain or headaches, you should see your optometrist for an eye examination.

Treating long-sightedness

All treatments for hyperopia adjust your focus precisely onto your retina (rather than behind it).

Glasses

Prescription lenses help to focus light on your retina (instead of behind it) so you can see more clearly and feel more comfortable. You may need more correction in one eye than the other. Your optometrist can discuss this with you after testing your eyes.

Contact lenses

There are many different types of contact lenses available in both hard (rigid, gas permeable) and soft (usually disposable) materials. They include options for extended wear and multifocal prescriptions. Ask your optometrist which ones will be best for you.

Refractive surgery

Refractive surgery, also called laser surgery can permanently reshape the surface of your eye using methods such as LASIK, PRK and LASEK. Ask your optometrist for more information. They can assess your suitability for surgery and refer you to a specialist eye surgeon if appropriate.

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Written by Canterbury optometrists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2023.

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