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What Are Refractive Errors?

woman getting eye exam

Refractive errors are a common cause of blurred vision. They happen when the shape of the eye changes and fails to bend the light entering the eye correctly. Here are the common types of refractive conditions and how to treat them.

Types of Refractive Errors

There are four common types of refractive errors:

  1. Myopia, sometimes called nearsightedness, makes far-away objects look blurry

  2. Hyperopia, sometimes called farsightedness, can make nearby objects look blurry

  3. Astigmatism makes far-away and nearby objects look blurry

  4. Presbyopia causes difficulty changing focus to see things up close

Most refractive errors begin in childhood or the teen years, while presbyopia often affects adults over 40.

Symptoms of Refractive Errors

Blurry vision is just one symptom of refractive errors. Others include:

  • Double vision

  • Hazy vision

  • Seeing halos around lights

  • Squinting

  • Headaches

  • Eyes that feel sore or tired

  • Trouble focusing while reading or at a computer

Symptoms can emerge slowly, and you may not notice them. That’s why regular eye exams are essential to keep you seeing clearly. An eye doctor can diagnose refractive errors and suggest ways to help you see better.

Causes of Refractive Errors

There are three common causes of refractive errors:

  • Eyeball length. The length of the eyeball is too long or too short, so light doesn’t hit your retina at the correct angle to see clearly.

  • Cornea shape. The transparent outer layer of the eye can change shape, be damaged or can bulge, affecting how light enters the eye.

  • Aging lenses. Over time your lens loses flexibility and can get cloudy, leading to blurry vision.

You may be more at risk of developing a refractive error if your parents or other family members wear glasses or contact lenses.

Treatments for Refractive Errors

If your eye doctor discovers you have a refractive error during a general eye exam, they may recommend the following treatments:

  • Eyeglasses. Your optometrist will prescribe an eyeglass lens to correct the refractive error and help you see clearly.

  • Contact lenses. Like eyeglasses, contact lenses will correct the way light enters your eye. They sit on the surface of your eye, and your eye doctor will show you how to use them.

  • Surgery. Some types of laser eye surgery can change the shape of your cornea and correct your refractive error. There are also non-laser surgery options for certain refractive errors. Your eye doctor will know if you’re a good candidate for surgery.

Schedule an Eye Exam In Edmonton

At Optometrists’ Clinic Inc., we can diagnose refractive errors and prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to help you see clearly. Contact one of our eye clinics today in Edmonton, Westlock or Leduc to schedule an appointment with an optometrist and get a general eye exam.


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