Long-sightedness, also known as hyperopia, affects a person’s ability to see objects close to them.
Vision problems such as long-sightedness are often referred to as refractive errors.
If you are long-sighted, you will be able to see distant objects clearly, but nearby objects will be out of focus. Your eyes may also tire easily.
What causes long-sightedness?
Long-sightedness occurs when:
- The eyeball is too short.
- The cornea is not curved enough.
- The lens is not thick enough.
The cornea is the transparent layer at the front of the eye, and the lens focuses light on to the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye).
There are various causes of long-sightedness including age, genetics and certain underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes (where there is too much glucose in the blood).
Children are sometimes born long-sighted. The problem usually corrects itself as the child’s eyes develop. However, it is important for children to have regular eyes tests because long-sightedness that does not correct itself can lead to other eye-related problems.
Adults can also develop long-sightedness, which often becomes more noticeable after the age of 40. Age-related long-sightedness is known as presbyopia.
Refractive errors, such as long-sightedness, are usually identified during early eye examinations.
Your child will have their eyesight checked regularly as part of the routine screening programme. However, you can have their eyes tested at any time if you are concerned about their vision.
Long-sightedness can usually be easily corrected, but if left untreated it could cause more serious complications that will affect your child’s vision permanently.
Long-sightedness is often corrected using either glasses or contact lenses.
Several surgical techniques have also been developed to treat the condition. Laser surgery is sometimes used although it is not suitable for everyone.
Complications of long-sightedness
In adults, complications of long-sightedness are rare. In children, severe hyperopia can cause them to “over-focus”, leading to double vision. This in turn can lead to two possible eye-related conditions:
- crossed eyes (strabismus), where the eyes are not properly aligned with each other and focus on different things
- lazy eye (amblyopia), where one eye becomes dominant over the other