Information for Patients
Also called: Farsightedness, Hyperopia, Myopia, Nearsightedness
The cornea and lens of your eye helps you focus. Refractive errors are vision problems that happen when the shape of the eye keeps you from focusing well. The cause could be the length of the eyeball (longer or shorter), changes in the shape of the cornea, or aging of the lens.
Four common refractive errors are
- Myopia, or nearsightedness - clear vision close up but blurry in the distance
- Hyperopia, or farsightedness - clear vision in the distance but blurry close up
- Presbyopia - inability to focus close up as a result of aging
- Astigmatism - focus problems caused by the cornea
The most common symptom is blurred vision. Other symptoms may include double vision, haziness, glare or halos around bright lights, squinting, headaches, or eye strain.
Glasses or contact lenses can usually correct refractive errors. Laser eye surgery may also be a possibility.
NIH: National Eye Institute
- Astigmatism (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Facts about Presbyopia - NIH (National Eye Institute)
- Farsightedness (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Nearsightedness (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Presbyopia (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Refraction test (Medical Encyclopedia)
Nearsightedness Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is an eye condition that causes blurry distance vision. People who are nearsighted have more trouble seeing things that are far away (such as when driving) than things that are close up (such as when reading or using a computer). If it is not treated with corrective lenses or surgery, nearsightedness can lead to squinting, eyestrain, headaches, and significant visual impairment.Nearsightedness usually begins in childhood or adolescence. It tends to worsen with age until adulthood, when it may stop getting worse (stabilize). In some people, nearsightedness improves in later adulthood.For normal vision, light passes through the clear cornea at the front of the eye and is focused by the lens onto the surface of the retina, which is the lining of the back of the eye that contains light-sensing cells. People who are nearsighted typically have eyeballs that are too long from front to back. As a result, light entering the eye is focused too far forward, in front of the retina instead of on its surface. It is this change that causes distant objects to appear blurry. The longer the eyeball is, the farther forward light rays will be focused and the more severely nearsighted a person will be.Nearsightedness is measured by how powerful a lens must be to correct it. The standard unit of lens power is called a diopter. Negative (minus) powered lenses are used to correct nearsightedness. The more severe a person's nearsightedness, the larger the number of diopters required for correction. In an individual with nearsightedness, one eye may be more nearsighted than the other.Eye doctors often refer to nearsightedness less than -5 or -6 diopters as "common myopia." Nearsightedness of -6 diopters or more is commonly called "high myopia." This distinction is important because high myopia increases a person's risk of developing other eye problems that can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness. These problems include tearing and detachment of the retina, clouding of the lens (cataract), and an eye disease called glaucoma that is usually related to increased pressure within the eye. The risk of these other eye problems increases with the severity of the nearsightedness. The term "pathological myopia" is used to describe cases in which high myopia leads to tissue damage within the eye.