Do You Need Glasses?

A Guide to Refractive Errors and How They Can Affect Your Family

Myopia. Hyperopia. Astigmatism. Presbyopia.

You may have heard of these terms before, but what do they mean, exactly?
More than 153 million people over age 5 suffer from some kind of refractive error. And yet, many don’t understand the difference between these common conditions, or even how being diagnosed with one will affect their vision.

It can be difficult to grasp the difference between all of the ‘isms ‘ and ‘opias’ and other medical jargon. At True Eye Experts, we’re here to help make eye care accessible and easily understandable. We took some time to explain the difference between these refractive errors so that if you or one of your loved ones is diagnosed with a vision problem, you know just what to expect.

How Are Vision Problems Diagnosed?

Eye problems can set in at a very young age, but often aren’t noticed immediately. Children don’t always realize that there’s an issue with their sight because they don’t have a “normal” frame of reference. In some cases, a child can unknowingly strain their eyes all day to see clearly without the noticeable pain of eye fatigue that we experience as adults. With this in mind, it’s especially important to schedule regular eye exams so that your child can have access to the proper corrective eyewear as soon as possible.

From 6 months old and on, we can perform thorough exams that will evaluate your family’s risk of developing eye diseases and refractive errors. Early detection and treatment of eye problems can greatly improve your vision and quality of life and may even address daily irritants like headaches and eyestrain.

Different Refractive Errors

What’s a Refractive Error?

When light enters the eye, it is refracted. More simply put, it passes through the lens inside the eye that changes its direction of travel to focus on the retina. Think of using a magnifying glass in the sun to start a campfire. This light is processed by the back of the eye — called the retina — and converted to a signal that is processed by the brain, resulting in the images that we see. A refractive error occurs when the eye doesn’t refract, or bend, light properly to focus on the retina. This error in refraction makes eyesight appear blurry and distorted.

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Cause

Myopia occurs when light that enters the eye is focused too quickly in front of the retina. This is usually because the eyeball is too long or the cornea, the front of the eye, is too curved. This condition is often inherited, but those who spend more time doing close-up work have an increased risk of developing myopia.

Effect on Vision

With myopia, close objects can be seen clearly, but objects that are farther away are blurry. Myopia is also referred to as nearsightedness.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Myopia affects around 30 percent of Americans and often first becomes a problem in school-aged children.

Nearsightedness can be diagnosed during an annual comprehensive eye exam. The doctor typically performs a refraction, where letters that decrease in size line-by-line are identified by the patient on a calibrated chart. Our doctors then use a phoropter to find out what level of power your lenses will allow your eyes to focus clearly. Myopia can be treated with prescription glasses or contacts, or laser eye surgery.

Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

Cause

Hyperopia occurs when light that enters the eye is not focused enough and hits the retina before it comes into focus. It, too, is often passed on through a person’s genes but can also be related Millions of people are affected by some degree of hyperopia. Hyperopia often can’t be detected during the vision screenings conducted in schools, but it can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam.

Hyperopia can be addressed with glasses and contact lenses, but can go without treatment in young adults if the condition is mild. Treatment for hyperopia with glasses in young adults is becoming more common as more people tend to use their eyes up-close on computer screens and other devices than in past decades.

to developmental disorders during childhood.  Generally, hyperopia is a condition in which the eye is shorter than normal, or the cornea is too flat.

Effect on Vision

Those with hyperopia cannot focus on close-up objects, but far objects will appear clear. It’s also referred to as farsightedness.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Millions of people are affected by some degree of hyperopia. Hyperopia often can’t be detected during the vision screenings conducted in schools, but it can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam.

Hyperopia can be addressed with glasses and contact lenses, but can go without treatment in young adults if the condition is mild. Treatment for hyperopia with glasses in young adults is becoming more common as more people tend to use their eyes up-close on computer screens and other devices than in past decades.

Eye Health Support for Children

Astigmatism

Cause

An astigmatism is when the eye’s cornea or lens is misshapen. The trend continues with genetics as astigmatism is often passed down from parent to child. Sometimes, the cause of misshapen corneas and lenses are unknown and are often attributed to minor biological irregularities and conditions.

Effect on Vision

Those with “astigmatism” — an irregularly shaped surface of the eye — can have blurry near and far vision, depending on the case. Objects may also appear distorted in certain areas of the vision field. Astigmatism can be described as making a square object look taller and skinnier, or shorter and fatter — sort of like a mild version of a funhouse mirror.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Astigmatism can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. Children who suffer from astigmatism may not understand that they can’t see clearly because they have no point of reference, making a comprehensive exam especially important.

The condition can be treated with prescription glasses, ortho-K, or contact lenses. Astigmatism can also be corrected with certain laser vision surgery.

Presbyopia

Cause

Presbyopia is caused by the lens that focuses light inside the eye losing flexibility as you age. For those who have presbyopia, we apologize where the word comes from. Presbyopia is derived from the Greek word presbus, which means ’old man,’ and the word ops, which means ‘eye’.

Effect on Vision

Those with presbyopia have a difficult time completing close tasks, such as reading or looking at your phone. Age-related presbyopia often has an onset of symptoms that happen rapidly, sometimes in a matter of months or even weeks.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Presbyopia is estimated to affect 2.1 billion people, and many will begin developing presbyopia at age 40. The condition can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam.

Presbyopia can be treated with reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, progressive lenses, specialty contacts, and some laser vision surgeries.

Ensure that Your Family Can See Clearly

The eyes are complex, and refractive errors only scratch the surface when it comes to eye problems, but at True Eye Experts, we’ll worry about your eyes so that you don’t have to. During a comprehensive exam, we’ll ensure that your family is free of vision problems that don’t have a solution, and we’ll always be sure to explain every aspect of your care.

When you’re ready to schedule an eye exam to address any potential refractive errors, request an appointment at one of our two locations.

Eyeglasses for Kids