What is Refractive Error?

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Normally, your eyes experience refraction as light enters your cornea, hits your lens, and is then directed into your pupil. However, if your eyes have a refractive error, this means the unique shape of your eye is preventing light from directly focusing on your retina. People who suffer from refractive error may not perceive depth clearly and may have difficulty seeing in certain situations, such as while reading or driving.

Here are some common types of refractive error you may experience:

  •    Myopia — This condition is also known as nearsightedness, and prevents you from clearly seeing far away objects. This is because light focuses in front of your retina, as opposed to directly on it.

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  •    Hyperopia — This condition is the opposite of myopia, and is also known as farsightedness. However, the term ‘farsightedness’ can be misleading, because some people with hyperopia may have trouble seeing objects at any distance—not just those which are nearby.

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  •    Astigmatism — This condition is extremely common and generally appears in everyone as we age. Light isn’t able to focus evenly on the retina, so your vision may appear blurry and develop ‘halos’ around bright objects.
  •    Presbyopia — This condition is caused by the aging process, after the age of 40. As we get older, the lens of our eye harden and is unable to expand and contract as easily, so it becomes difficult to view objects which are nearby.

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It can be difficult to tell if you have a refractive error because it’s hard to compare your vision with ‘normal’ vision when you only have one set of eyes! However, if you constantly find yourself squinting to see certain objects, suffering from headaches, or noticing a burning sensation in your eyes, these could be signs of refractive error. The onset of refractive error is especially prevalent in children; learn more about the signs that you need glasses, here.

Fortunately, if you suffer from one of these conditions, the issue can usually be solved with eyeglasses, contacts, or laser eye surgery. After you use the EyeQue Insight 20/20 vision screener to determine whether you are seeing 20/20, then use the EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker to determine what type of refractive error you have. Even if you don’t currently wear glasses, you should still visit your eye doctor regularly to ensure the health of your eyes.

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