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Understanding Refractive Errors and How They Are Treated

Written by Shannon Wong on December 15, 2017

Refractive errorsTo see clearly, the cornea, which is the clear, front portion of the eye, must refract, or bend, light onto the retina. The retina is the back portion of the eye responsible for converting light into messages and sending them to the brain for interpretation.

Refractive errors are optical imperfections in the eye that prevent it from focusing light properly. The most common symptom of refractive errors is blurry or distorted vision.

Learn more about refractive errors and how to treat them, from the trusted eye doctors at Austin Eye.

Common Refractive Errors

The most common refractive error, myopia (nearsightedness), affects the ability to see objects at far distance clearly. Myopia occurs when the cornea is too steep, causing the light to be focused in front of the retina. The condition occurs among individuals with abnormally long eyeballs. Myopia can affect a person’s ability to drive, read traffic signs and, among children, see the front of the classroom clearly.

Hyperopia, also known as farsightedness, affects one’s ability to see clearly at near distances. The condition occurs as a result of the cornea being too flatly curved, causing the light entering the eye to be focused behind the retina. Activities like reading a book or text messages can be difficult with hyperopia.

Astigmatism occurs when light entering the eye does not come in a single focus onto the retina. Instead, multiple points of focus occur, either behind or in front of the retina. In astigmatic individuals, the cornea has an oblong shape, instead of the normal round shape. Astigmatism can occur on its own or in conjunction with myopia or hyperopia.

Presbyopia is a refractive error that occurs over time. As you get older, the eye’s natural lens loses its flexibility, making it harder to focus on close objects. Most adults begin to experience symptoms of presbyopia in their 40s or 50s.

Treating Refractive Errors

Refractive errors can be treated with prescription eyewear (i.e., glasses and contact lenses). But the only permanent way to correct refractive errors is with surgery or refractive lens exchange using lens implants. The most common type of refractive surgery is LASIK, which reshapes the cornea’s curvature to better focus light, restoring clear vision.

Contact Us Today

If you are experiencing blurry vision or other symptoms of refractive errors, we recommend you schedule an eye exam with a board-certified eye doctor. If you are diagnosed with a refractive error, our team of skilled eye doctors can recommend the right treatment option. To schedule a consultation, contact Austin Eye. Call our North Office at (512) 250-2020 or our Central office at (512) 454-2020.