Refractive errors are vision problems that happen when the shape of the eye keeps you from focusing well.The cornea and lens of your eye helps you focus. The cause could be the length of the eyeball(longer or shorter), changes in the shape of the cornea, or aging of the lens.
Four common refractive errors are
- Myopia, or nearsightedness – clear vision close up but blurry in the distance
- Hyperopia, or farsightedness – clear vision in the distance but blurry close up
- Presbyopia – inability to focus close up as a result of aging
- Astigmatism – focus problems caused by the cornea
The most common symptom is blurred vision. Other symptoms may include double vision, haziness, glare or halos around bright lights, squinting, headaches, or eye strain.Glasses or contact lenses can usually correct refractive errors. Laser eye surgery may also be a possibility.
What are the different types of refractive errors? The most common types of refractive errors are myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism.
Myopia (nearsightedness) is a condition where objects up close appear clearly, while objects far away appear blurry. With myopia, light comes to focus in front of the retina instead of on the retina.Hyperopia (farsightedness) is a common type of refractive error where distant objects may be seen more clearly than objects that are near. However, people experience hyperopia differently.
Some people may not notice any problems with their vision, especially when they are young. For people with significant hyperopia, vision can be blurry for objects at any distance, near or far.Astigmatism is a condition in which the eye does not focus light evenly onto the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This can cause images to appear blurry and stretched out.Presbyopia is an age-related condition in which the ability to focus up close becomes more difficult. As the eye ages, the lens can no longer change shape enough to allow the eye to focus close objects clearly.
Presbyopia affects most adults over age 35. Other refractive errors can affect both children and adults. Individuals that have parents with certain refractive errors may be more likely to get one or more refractive errors.
What are the signs and symptoms of refractive errors?
Blurred vision is the most common symptom of refractive errors. Other symptoms may include:
- Double vision
- Glare or halos around bright lights
- Eye strain
An eye care professional can diagnose refractive errors during a comprehensive dilated eye examination. People with a refractive error often visit their eye care professional with complaints of visual discomfort or blurred vision. However, some people don’t know they aren’t seeing as clearly as they could.
Refractive errors can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct refractive errors. Your eye care professional can prescribe appropriate lenses to correct your refractive error and give you optimal vision.
Contact Lenses work by becoming the first refractive surface for light rays entering the eye, causing a more precise refraction or focus. In many cases, contact lenses provide clearer vision, a wider field of vision, and greater comfort. They are a safe and effective option if fitted and used properly. It is very important to wash your hands and clean your lenses as instructed in order to reduce the risk of infection.If you have certain eye conditions you may not be able to wear contact lenses. Discuss this with your eye care professional.
Refractive Surgery aims to change the shape of the cornea permanently. This change in eye shape restores the focusing power of the eye by allowing the light rays to focus precisely on the retina for improved vision. There are many types of refractive surgeries. Your eye care professional can help you decide if surgery is an option for you.