One of the most common issues that a person can experience with their vision, are refractive errors. What are they and how do we treat them, we will explore in this article.
What are refractive errors?
Refractive errors are extremely common in people and have to do with the ability of their eyes, to focus the light properly to the retina at the back of the eyeball. Ideally all the rays of light get focused and combine exactly where the retina is to provide perfect visual acuity.
However, when there is a refractive error, the rays of light can end up unable to meet at the retina. This leads to a loss of visual acuity to a varying degree, depending on the severity of the error. The cause of this can be the shape of the cornea, the lens and the eyeball itself or a combination of all them. There are four common refractive errors observed in the population:
Nearsightedness - far away objects appear blurry as the rays of light end up connecting with each other before they reach the retina.
Farsightedness - objects close to you appear blurry as the rays of light never meet properly to fall on the retina.
Astigmatism - some of the rays may find and connect properly at the retina, however other rays connect at different points or never connect at all, lowering your vision acuity.
Presbyopia also meddles with the visual acuity, however the source is mostly age related, as the cornea grows older and it's flexibility lowers.
A refractive error can appear either on or both eyes and can also progress at a different pace. That however makes it harder to detect and in some instances can lead to bigger complications, like lazy eye and even loss of vision.
What are symptoms when having refractive errors?
There are a number of symptoms which can be the result of a refractive error. Some of them are harder to identify especially when refractive error appears only in one eye. Here are some of the symptoms you might experience:
- blurry vision is the most common symptom signaling a refractive error
- double vision
- eye strain
- lazy eye
As your brain struggles with reading the image your eyes send, you can experience a lot of different symptoms or even combinations of them.
Who is at risk of having a refractive error?
Genetics can play a huge role when it comes to refractive errors. If you have family members who have refractive errors, it is a good reason for you to check with an eye specialist, even if you are not experiencing troubles with your vision.
The environment can also be a cause for a refractive error. If you have bad habits, exhaust your eyes on a regular basis, are involved in long hours in front of a screen or a book, it can increase the chance of a refractive error.
Age is also a factor with Myopia being more common in children, while hyperopia appears more in adults. Traumas can also cause refractive errors.
What is the treatment for refractive errors?
Thankfully most refractive errors can be effectively treated and their negative effects halted or slowed down. The most important step you need to take is to visit an eye specialist from time to time, especially if you recognise a lot of risk factors in your life.
Vision aids is one of the simplest ways to control refractive errors. When caught early on, refractive errors can be controlled with regular check ups and glasses and lens prescriptions. Other magnifiers can also offer aid to more severely affected individuals.
In more severe cases there are various options. Various intraocular and extraocular surgeries can be advised by your eye specialists in order to improve visual acuity and any other symptoms you experience.
Refractive errors are relatively easy to control and if caught early on, they will have no significant impact on your life. Check with the risk factors and visit an eye specialist from time to time, to spot any issues early on and make the treatment much easier.