Refractive errors are the most common eye problems. Vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia occur when the irregular eye shape blocks light from focusing on the retina. If the eyeball length changes in the cornea shape, or if the lens is aging, refractive errors can result. Most people develop one or more of these eye problems.
What Is Refraction?
When light bends as it passes through objects, this is the process called refraction. Vision happens when rays of light are bent as they move through the cornea and the eye lens. The light that passes through gets focused on the retina where it is converted into messages that get transmitted through the optic nerve over to the brain. It is here that the messages are interrupted by the images we see.
Types of Refractive Errors
- Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a vision condition where closer objects appear clearer, while far away objects appear blurry. Light comes to focus in front of the retina rather than on it.
- Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is another common refractive error. With this type, distant objects are seen clearer than closer objects. But, farsightedness is experienced differently. Some people may not realize they have an eye problem, especially at a young age. Patients with severe farsightedness, vision can be blurry at any distance
- Astigmatism is a condition where the eye cannot evenly focus light onto the retina. This eye problem can cause images to appear stretched out and blurry.
- Presbyopia is caused by advanced age. This eye condition occurs when the ability to focus near becomes more difficult. As time goes on, the lens can no longer adapt its shape to allow the eye to focus clearly on close objects.
Who Is Most at Risk for Refractive Errors?
Adults over the age of 35 are most at risk for Presbyopia. All other refractive errors can affect both adults and children. If your parents have certain eye problems, you may be more likely to develop the same type of conditions.
Signs of Refractive Errors
The most common symptom of refractive error is blurry vision. Other signs of vision conditions include:
- Double vision
- Red eye
- Night blindness
- Halos around bright lights or glare
- Eye strain
Your eye doctor can detect refractive errors during a comprehensive eye exam. Patients with a refractive effort may visit their vision care professional often to address issues with eye discomfort, headaches or blurry vision. But, some people don’t even know they can’t see as clearly as they should.
These kinds of eye problems can be treated with corrective lenses like prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, or laser eye surgery.