Having a refractive error means that the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly at the back of the eye, resulting in blurry vision.
It is the shape of the eye or the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) that can prevent light from being focused precisely on the retina - a layer of tissue at the back of the eye that receives and processes visual information. As clear messages between the retina and the brain are needed to create clear images in our field of vision, any disturbances here will produce problems like blurred vision, difficulty focusing on objects that are near or far (or both), and other issues. The natural effects of ageing can also come into play in producing refractive errors, specifically the natural ageing of your lens, a layer of your inner eye that is normally clear and helps the eye to focus light onto the retina.
Common Refractive Errors
- Short sightedness: medically known as myopia, this is when it is difficult to focus on objects in the distance. Your close-up vision is not affected.
- Farsightedness: medically known as hyperopia, this is when it is difficult to focus on objects that are close to you, so they may appear blurry. Your long distance vision is not affected.
- Astigmatism: can make both far-away and nearby objects look blurry or distorted
- Presbyopia: this is the gradual loss of the eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects, that occurs as a natural (though very inconvenient) part of ageing. It often becomes noticeable in your mid 40’s, progressively worsening until the age of around 65.
- Amblyopia: often referred to as having a lazy eye, this condition typically occurs in infancy or early childhood, and usually affects one eye. Symptoms can include a wandering eye or eyes that may not appear to work together.
Refractive Errors Can Be Treated
Refractive errors can be treated using various methods depending on the type and severity of the error, which will be identified and diagnosed during your routine eye examination with our eye care professionals.
The most common methods of treatment for refractive errors are eyeglasses, contact lenses, and refractive surgery. Glasses and contact lenses work by altering the way light is focused on the retina, compensating for the refractive error. They can be used to correct myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia, and are safe and effective for most people.
Refractive surgery is another option for treating refractive errors, which includes procedures such as LASIK, PRK, and other similar procedures. Refractive surgery reshapes the cornea to improve its focusing ability, allowing light to be focused directly on the retina. To discuss options like these further, our team can refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon).
Assessment for refractive errors is performed as part of your annual eye exam at our clinics across Queensland by selecting your preferred location here.