What are refractive errors?
Refractive error is a vision issue that happens when your eye cannot refract or bend light correctly.
For clear vision, light rays must travel through two areas of your eye. The cornea and the lens. These two pieces refract the light so it bounces on the retina, then it turns light into signals that reach the brain and are transformed into images. When a patient experiences refractive errors, the shape of your cornea prevents light from bending properly. Also, vision becomes blurry when light isn’t focused on the retina.
Eye Words to Know
Cornea Clear: window that focuses light at the front of your eye.
Lens: lies behind the iris and is clear to help focus light on the retina so you can see.
Retina: nerves located at the back of the eye, all in one layer.
Types of refractive errors
There are different types of refractive errors:
Myopia: when close-up vision is functioning but distant objects are blurry. For example, you can read clearly but have trouble seeing the whiteboard in class. A cornea that is too curved causes Myopia. This condition is inherited, meaning that if your relatives have it, you may too. Children are often diagnosed between the ages of 8 and 12, as they grow quickly, their myopia can worsen. However, as adults, myopia changes very little. It is important to visit an ophthalmologist regularly for exams to check the retina.
Light is focused in
In myopia, the eye is too lengthy or the cornea is too steep. Distant objects appear fuzzy because images focus in front of the retina instead of on it.
In hyperopia, close objects appear blurry because images focus beyond the retina. Hyperopia causes distant objects to look clear but close-up objects are blurry. You might have trouble reading the newspaper, but you can see far-away buildings clearly, driving shouldn’t be an issue. Like myopia, hyperopia is often inherited.
Astigmatism is a condition that blurs vision for both close-up and distant objects, it is caused when your eye is not perfectly round. You can have astigmatism along with myopia or hyperopia. In astigmatism, the cornea is uneven.
Presbyopia is when you have trouble reading close objects, this condition happens naturally as we age.
When we are young,the lenses in our eyes can change shape easily. After age, a certain age, usually in our 40s, the lens becomes less flexible making it more difficult to see things up close.
Any four of these conditions can happen hand-in-hand.
Correcting refractive errors
Eyeglasses or contact lenses are the simplest and most frequently used method to correct vision problems. They adjust vision to see more clearly. An eye care provider tests your vision and prescribes glasses or contact lenses as needed. Over time, your eyes change and new prescription may be necessary.
Talk to your ophthalmologist about the lens choices that can meet your needs.
Here are options to consider:
- Special coating for UV lighting.
- Polycarbonate lenses to protect eyes from injury.
- Reading glasses can be bought without a prescription.
Refractive surgery corrects your eye’s errors to improve vision which is done by reshaping the cornea to adjust how light travels through it. Common procedures include:
- LASIK: the doctor creates a thin flap in your cornea and uses a laser to reshape the tissue.
- Epi-LASIK: same as LASIK; however, the flap the flap in this procedure is made of a thinner sheet of cells.
- PRK: Like LASIK; however, the cornea’s entire outer layer of cells is removed.
All surgeries have possible risks, complications, and side effects. For instance, after having surgery, you may see glare around light or poor night vision.
Talk with your ophthalmologist about your vision needs, your doctor will have options for achieving better vision.
Refractive errors are vision problems that happen when your eye does not bend light properly, this issue occurs when your cornea doesn’t focus light properly on the retina, causing blurry vision.
Refractive errors are common and are divided into four categories: myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (distorted or blurry vision at any distance) and presbyopia (loss of near vision with age). Blurry vision occurs when light is not focused on the retina as it should be.
Eyeglasses, contact lenses and surgery are all resolutions to refractive errors. Discuss the best way to correct your refractive error with an ophthalmologist.