Hyperopia – Long Sighted Vision
Hyperopia is the term used to describe someone who is long-sighted. A long-sighted person can see distance objects easily but struggles to read, look at a computer screen, or concentrate on fine detail tasks within an arm’s length distance. Eyeballs that are long-sighted are “shorter” than the average eyeball length. A shorter than average eyeball length means that when an image passes through it ends up being focussed behind the eye. This means that the lenses within your long-sighted eyes must change shape constantly to pull that image forward, so that it becomes focussed on your retinas.
You can imagine that if your eyes are having to do this work all day every day that when you want to sit down and read or fill out some paperwork that the effort required for your lenses and focussing muscles to maintain this near clarity of vision is then multiplied. Sooner or later those muscles are going to fatigue, you’ll find it hard to concentrate, you’ll find you’re having to re-read things, you find your eyes are red from not blinking as often, they feel sore and tired, that you just want to close your eyes, and then you’ll start getting headaches regularly from the cumulative effects of these symptoms. Eye strain related headaches are typically those that occur around your temples and in behind your eyes.
Try this for yourself: Sit at your computer screen and while you are there looking at your screen hold both of your arms out straight with your hands and fingers stretched out. See how long you can maintain this posture before your arms and shoulders start to feel tired. Now for how many hours a day do you sit in front of a screen? Most of us spend at least 5 hours a day using a computer &/or digital devices and I bet you went nowhere near 5 hours without a break when holding up your arms then. My point being that focussing at a close distance, such as a computer screen, for hours on end is a tiring exercise for the external muscles that control the position of your eyes as well as the focussing muscles that control the shape of your lenses to keep your vision focussed.
CASE STUDY: JOHN @ WORK
I had a 34-year-old fella by the name of John come to see me recently. Now John was finding that he can’t get his work done as efficiently as he’d been able to in recent years. John is a solicitor so he reads a lot of printed documents and spends hours on his computer every single day. John also reported that when he leaves the office at the end of his day that driving home feels much harder and that he can’t see as clearly for distance. John was surprised how much of a difference a reading prescription made to the contrast and clarity of the fine print of his legal documents. I explained to John that by using his prescription reading glasses for block computer and document reading that he will work more efficiently again as his focussing system is not having to overcompensate and won’t tire quickly. This also has the follow-on effect that because John’s focussing muscles are not over-worked to the point of exhaustion they are able to adjust much faster and relax out to see distance objects clearly such as when driving home at the end of the day.
Long-sighted individuals also tend to progress quickly into requiring glasses full-time as they reach their late 30s to early 40s. With the natural weakening of the fine muscles attached to your lenses (i.e. as your eyes age) it becomes harder for you to maintain focus, you may notice your eyes go in and out of focus, and your focussing speed noticeably slows as you change your focus from a distance to a near object and vice versa. The natural loss of near focus, known as presbyopia, as we all hit our 40s along with your shorter than average length eyeballs means that your distance vision, once a proud point of difference for you, starts to diminish frustratingly as your reading vision deteriorates. A lot of long-sighted people absolutely despise this change in their eyesight, report it to be most unfair, and ask can they get laser to fix it. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but laser can’t help you here, glasses or contact lenses can though. Your distance and near vision both deteriorate as it is the same focussing muscles that are used to focus distance and near objects clearly onto your retinas.
CASE STUDY: PATRICIA @ SWIMMING
I have a 60-year-old patient called Patricia who is and has been a keen swimmer her whole life. Patricia is quite long-sighted and because of her poor vision without her glasses she religiously leaves her towel, thongs, and glasses in the same spot every time she swims at the local pool. I talked to Patricia about contact lenses for swimming but she felt they would be too much of a hassle. I then had the discussion with Pat about prescription swimming goggles, that we can order a different power for each of her eyes, and that she could then get out of the pool, see where she was going comfortably and leave her glasses in her locker inside the change rooms. Pat was thrilled that this was an option available to her so we went ahead and ordered her a pair of prescription swimming goggles. Patricia has since popped in and told me just how much of a difference they have made, that when she gets out of the pool she can navigate her way safely, and that she can see the faces of her fellow swimmers clearly and knows who she is actually talking to!
For more about Hyperopia or how you can improve your vision, come in and see me at our store.
Optometrist @ The Eye Place