What Is Hyperopia? - Definition, Causes & Symptoms

Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Hyperopia is when someone sees objects that are far away more clearly than objects that are up close. Read this lesson to learn about hyperopia, what causes it, what the symptoms are, and how it can be treated.

Definition of Hyperopia

Hyperopia is a refractive vision impairment that causes a person to see objects that are far away clearer than objects that are close up. It's also referred to as farsightedness. Hyperopia is typically caused by a condition other than a disease or infection.

What Causes Hyperopia?

To truly understand hyperopia, we must first understand how vision works. Have you ever wondered how exactly it is that you see the world around you? Sight is something we often take for granted; however, it's estimated that between 5-10% of Americans are affected by farsightedness, so let's quickly go over how our sight works!

When light enters the eye, it is refracted (or bent) as it passes through the cornea and lens. In a normal eye, this refracted light focuses on the retina, where the signals then pass through the optic nerve to the brain to be interpreted. If the shape of the eye is abnormal or irregular, however, this changes how light is refracted and can cause it to focus somewhere other than on the retina. Hyperopia causes light to focus behind the retina, making objects that are close to you appear blurry.

What causes the light to focus behind the retina? This can happen if the eyeball is shorter than normal, if the cornea has too little curvature, or if the lens sits farther back in the eye than normal. In very rare cases, it may be caused by eye tumors or retinopathy, though usually hyperopia is not caused by disease.

Hyperopia causes light to focus behind the retina instead of directly on it.

Symptoms of Hyperopia

Now that we understand what causes hyperopia, let's take a look at the symptoms. Obviously, a person with hyperopia sees distant objects more clearly than those that are nearer to them, but there are other symptoms too. This disrupted vision can create eye strain, and blurriness may be worse at night. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, aching or burning eyes, irritability, nervousness or anxiety, squinting, and difficulty concentrating.

In kids, hyperopia can cause crossed eyes, a condition called esotropia. Symptoms usually start in childhood, but can improve over time if the eye adjusts itself in a process called accommodation. In other cases, it may be onset with age.

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