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What is
Refractive Errors?

Refractive errors are common vision problems that occur when the eye’s shape or focusing ability is imperfect, leading to blurred or distorted vision.

Risk Factors


Hyperopia (Farsightedness)
  • Blurred Near Vision: Hyperopia primarily affects near vision. Individuals with hyperopia may have difficulty seeing objects up close clearly.
  • Eye Strain: People with hyperopia may experience eye strain, particularly during activities that require close-up focus, such as reading.
  • Difficulty with Close Tasks: Tasks like reading, sewing, or using a computer may be challenging without corrective lenses.
  • Blurred or Distorted Vision: Astigmatism can cause both near and distant vision to appear blurry or distorted. Straight lines may appear wavy or curved.
  • Difficulty Seeing Fine Details: People with astigmatism may struggle to see fine details clearly, which can affect activities like reading and drawing.
  • Blurred Distant Vision: People with myopia typically have clear vision up close but struggle to see distant objects clearly. Distant objects appear blurry or out of focus.
  • Squinting: To see distant objects more clearly, individuals with myopia often squint their eyes.
  • Difficulty Reading Road Signs: Myopic individuals may have trouble reading road signs or recognizing faces from a distance.
  • Difficulty with Near Tasks: Presbyopia primarily affects the ability to focus on near objects. Individuals may have difficulty reading small print, threading needles, or doing close-up work.
  • Needing to Hold Reading Material at Arm’s Length: People with presbyopia often find themselves holding reading material farther away to see it more clearly.
  • Eye Strain: Eye strain and fatigue are common symptoms when trying to focus on near objects.

If you experience any of these symptoms or have difficulty with your vision, it’s essential to schedule an eye examination with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. A comprehensive eye exam can determine the type and extent of your refractive error, and appropriate corrective measures, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, can be prescribed to improve your vision and alleviate these symptoms.

Treatment Types

Refractive Surgery

Refractive surgery is a permanent vision correction option that reshapes the cornea or uses an intraocular lens to correct refractive errors. Common refractive surgery procedures include:

  • LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis): LASIK involves reshaping the cornea using a laser to correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
  • PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy): PRK is similar to LASIK but involves removing the corneal surface layer before reshaping.
  • SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction): SMILE is a newer laser procedure that corrects myopia.
  • Phakic Intraocular Lenses (IOLs): Phakic IOLs are implanted in front of or behind the natural lens to correct refractive errors.
  • Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE): RLE replaces the eye’s natural lens with an artificial lens to correct refractive errors and presbyopia.

Contact lenses are an alternative to eyeglasses for correcting refractive errors. They are available in various types, including soft, rigid gas-permeable, and specialty lenses for astigmatism and presbyopia. Contact lenses offer a more natural field of vision and do not alter your appearance. Proper hygiene and care are essential when using contact lenses.

Eyeglasses are a common and effective way to correct refractive errors. They consist of lenses with specific prescriptions designed to compensate for the eye’s focusing issues. Eyeglasses can correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia. They are easy to use, require minimal maintenance, and provide clear vision.

In monovision correction, one eye is corrected for distance vision, while the other eye is corrected for near vision. This approach is often used with contact lenses or refractive surgery to address presbyopia.

Vision therapy is a non-surgical option that involves a series of eye exercises and activities to improve visual skills and eye coordination. It may be recommended for individuals with convergence insufficiency or other eye focusing problems.

The choice of treatment should be made in consultation with an eye care specialist, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, after a thorough eye examination to determine the type and extent of the refractive error. The specialist will consider factors such as age, lifestyle, and individual visual needs when recommending the most suitable treatment option. It’s important to have regular eye exams to monitor your eye health and ensure that your corrective prescription remains up-to-date.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are refractive errors?

Refractive errors are common vision problems that occur when the eye’s shape or focusing ability is imperfect, leading to blurred or distorted vision.

Myopia is a refractive error where distant objects appear blurry, while close-up objects can be seen clearly. It typically occurs when the eyeball is too long or the cornea is too steep.

The primary types of refractive errors include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia.

Astigmatism is a refractive error characterized by distorted or blurred vision at various distances. It occurs when the cornea or lens has an irregular shape, leading to multiple focal points.

Hyperopia is a refractive error where close-up objects appear blurry, while distant objects are seen more clearly. It often results from an eye that is too short or a cornea that is too flat.

Presbyopia is a vision problem that typically develops with age and makes it difficult to focus on close-up objects. It is related to the natural aging process of the eye’s lens.

Refractive errors are diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The examination includes tests to measure visual acuity, refractive error, and eye health.

Symptoms may include blurred vision, difficulty seeing distant or close-up objects, eye strain, headaches, squinting, and discomfort during visual tasks.

LASIK surgery is a widely performed and generally safe procedure for correcting myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The suitability of LASIK depends on individual factors and should be discussed with an eye care specialist.