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Refractive Errors

What's your vision?

You've hear of "20/20"... but what does it mean? Refractive errors are disorders, not diseases. A refractive error means that the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly, resulting in a blurred image. Light has to be refracted or bent by the cornea and the lens to the retina in order for us to see.

Here are the common refractive disorders

Myopia - Nearsightedness (distant objects are blurry)

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is inherited and is often discovered in childhood. Myopia often progesses throughout the teenage years, when the body is growing rapidly. People with high myopia have a higher risk of detached retina, which can be repaired with surgery, and glaucoma.

Symptoms of Myopia:

  • Blurred vision

  • Difficulty seeing distant objects
Myopia is commonly treated using corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgery can also be used to correct myopia.

Hyperopia, also known as farsightedness, is usually inherited. Children are often hyperopic which may lessen as an adult. Hyperopia is a refractive error, which results from a disorder rather than from disease. A refractive error means that the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly, resulting in a blurred image.

Symptoms of Hyperopia:
  • Difficulty seeing objects up close
  • Blurred vision
  • Crossing of the eyes in children 


Hyperopia is commonly treated using corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgery may be able to correct some forms of hyperopia.

Astigmatism - Blurred Vision at All Distances

Astigmatism usually occurs when the front surface of the eye, the cornea, has an irregular curvature. Astigmatism is not a disease nor does it mean that you have "bad eyes." It simply means that you have a variation or disturbance in the shape of your cornea. Normally the cornea is smooth and equally curved in all directions and light entering the cornea is focused equally on all planes, or in all directions. In astigmatism, the front surface of the cornea is curved more in one direction than in the other. This abnormality may result in vision that is much like looking into a distorted, wavy mirror. The distortion results because of an inability of the eye to focus light rays to a point.

Astigmatism is very common. Some experts believe that almost everyone has a degree of astigmatism, often from birth, which may remain the same throughout life. The exact reason for differences in corneal shape remains unknown, but the tendency to develop astigmatism is inherited. For that reason, some people are more prone to develop astigmatism than others.

Symptoms of Astigmatism:

  • Distortion or blurring of images at all distances
  • Headache and fatigue
  • Squinting and eye discomfort or irritation


If the degree of astigmatism is slight and no other problems of refraction, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, are present, corrective lenses may not be needed. If the degree of astigmatism is great enough to cause eyestrain, headache, or distortion of vision,prescription lenses will be needed for clear and comfortable vision.

The corrective lenses needed when astigmatism is present are called Toric lenses and have an additional power element called a cylinder. They have greater light-bending power in one axis than in others. Your eyecare professional will perform precise tests during your eye examination to determine the ideal lens prescription. Refractive surgery may be able to correct some forms of astigmatism.

Astigmatism may increase slowly. Regular eye care can help to insure that proper vision is maintained. You may have to adjust to wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses if you do not wear them now. Other than that, astigmatism probably will not significantly affect your lifestyle at all.

Presbyopia... What You Need to Know
Presbyopia (aging of the lens in the eye and the muscles that control the shape of the lens) commonly occurs after age 40, when the lens of the eye becomes more rigid and does not flex as easily. The result is that it is more difficult to read at close range. This normal aging process of the lens can also be combined with myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism.

While presbyopia is not routinely curable, the loss of focusing ability for up close activities such as reading can be easily compensated for by corrective lenses including. In some cases, the addition of bifocals to an existing lens prescription is sufficient. As the ability to change focus worsens, the prescription needs to be changed accordingly.

Symptoms of Presbyopia:

  • Near objects appear blurred
  • Difficulty seeing objects up close

Presbyopia is commonly treated using corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses.

The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have a refractive disorder.  However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, please contact us to set up an apointment today.


Vision Correction