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A to Z: Hyperopia

A to Z: Hyperopia

May also be called: Farsightedness; Hypermetropia; Longsightedness

Hyperopia (hy-per-OH-pee-uh) is farsightedness, a common condition in which someone can see things in the distance clearly, but things that are closer appear blurry.

More to Know

Hyperopia is a type of refractive error. This means the problem is caused by the way the eye bends, or refracts, light as it passes through the eye's cornea and lens. Normally, the cornea (the clear front of the eye) and lens (a small structure in the eye that can change shape) work together to take in images and focus them on the retina, the soft, light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eyeball wall. When someone has hyperopia, the lens focuses the image behind the retina instead of directly on it.

Hyperopia can happen if the eyeball is too short or if the cornea has too little curve to it. Doctors believe these conditions may be related to a person's genes.

Hyperopia can cause squinting, eyestrain, headaches, and crossed eyes, and it can make driving or operating machinery more dangerous. Mild hyperopia is normal for infants and children, but it also can affect adults. In fact, most adults develop a form of farsightedness called presbyopia as they get older.

Hyperopia usually can't be detected during common vision screenings. Most cases are diagnosed through a more comprehensive eye exam. Mild hyperopia might not need treatment because the eye can generally adapt and focus itself anyway. Glasses or contact lenses can correct hyperopia in kids and teens, if needed.

Keep in Mind

Hyperopia doesn't cause any pain, but it can have a negative effect on a child's quality of life if not corrected. If your child has trouble seeing things or seems to do a lot of squinting, talk to a doctor and schedule an eye exam. Most cases of hyperopia can be easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.