A refractive error is a common type of vision problem that occurs when the eye’s shape prevents light from focusing directly on the back of the eye, resulting in blurry vision and other problems.

For many people, the changes to their vision occur so gradually over time, that they often don’t notice it happening - and so don’t realise that they need optical care or that their eyesight isn’t as good as it could be. This is why regular comprehensive eye exams are so important to maintain your vision and pick up on issues as soon as they arise. 

There Are Five Common Types Of Refractive Errors:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia) - makes far-away objects look blurry
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia) - makes nearby objects look blurry
  • Astigmatism - can make both far-away and nearby objects look blurry or distorted
  • Mature vision (presbyopia - affects those in their early to mid-40s and older, making it difficult to see things up close
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye) - 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

Why Do Refractive Errors Happen?

Refractive errors can happen when:

  • Your eyeball grows too long or too short, making it difficult for light to pass accurately onto your retina (the thin tissue layer that perceives light at the back of your eye)
  • There are problems with the shape of your cornea (the clear outer layer of the eye)
  • 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)

How Can An Optometrist Check For Refractive Errors? 

Our optometrists can check for refractive errors as part of a comprehensive eye exam. The assessment is simple and painless. You’ll be asked to read letters that are up close and far away, then they may give you some eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil and check for other eye problems.

How Are Refractive Errors Treated? 

If you have a refractive error, your optometrist can work alongside you to prescribe glasses or contact lenses to improve your vision, reduce vision-related headaches and eye strain, and help give you the freedom to do the things you love. In children, treatment for amblyopia may also include eye patches, eye drops, or visual therapy.

To make an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination with one of our optometrists, contact us here.

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