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Refractive Error: Common Eye Disorder

What is a Refractive Error?

A Refractive error is a common eye disorder in which the affected person’s eyes are unable to focus clearly on images that are projected upon the retina. As a result of this, people experience blurred vision, which can sometimes manifest itself as visual impairment in extreme cases.

What are the signs of a Refractive Error?

  • Difficulty in reading small text in books, mobile phones, signage etc
  • Squinting one’s eyes while trying to read, or seeing distant objects
  • Conversely, holding a book or mobile phone very close to one’s face while trying to read the text
  • Straining of eyes when reading or watching television for long hours
  • Eye aches and Headaches
  • Some people might experience double vision or even halos around bright lights.
  • Rubbing one’s eyes while trying to see objects clearly. In rare cases, people, especially children, may develop swellings on their lids because of the constant rubbing.

What are the different types of Refractive Errors?

The most common are the following four –

#1 Myopia

Myopia is commonly known as nearsightedness wherein objects near to the eye are seen most clearly, while with graduating distance, the objects appear to become blurry. As a rule of thumb, Myopia has been observed to be hereditary, and often manifests itself in the early developing years of one’s childhood.

#2 Hyperopia

Most commonly known as farsightedness, most people who experience hyperopia, suffer from it due to genetic reasons, i.e. they most likely inherited it from their parents. They find it difficult to focus on objects close to their eyes, but this condition generally improves over the passage of time. In advanced cases of hyperopia, people have reported blurry vision for objects at varying distances.

#3 Presbyopia

People’s eyes tend to become rigid when they cross the age of forty, because of which their eyes are unable to flex easily. The eye is thus unable to focus correctly on objects, making it difficult to read text and view objects at a close range.

#4 Astigmatism

Normally, one’s cornea has an equal curvature in all directions, but in Astigmatism, the cornea has an asymmetric curvature. This means that one of the surfaces is more curved than the rest, which can lead to distorted vision, much like looking into a wavy mirror, or the type that we get to see at fun houses. People suffering from this disorder experience blurred vision at all distances.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Refractive errors can easily be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) whenever you go for your routine eye examination.  All you have to do is read from a vision chart, which will help the doctor determine the extent of the damage done to your vision.

These disorders can very easily be corrected by wearing spectacles or contact lens. LASIK eye surgery is another option, permanent in nature, for those unwilling to wear spectacles or lens.