Refractive Errors: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Options- A Visionary Approach


Do you feel like your eyesight has weakened? Like the near objects seem blurry to you or do you have difficulty in recognising people from afar? If yes, then you might want to get your eyes checked. It is normal to have your vision impaired when you age, but when these circumstances take place for young kids and adults, then it is a case of refractive errors.

In this blog, we will explore the types of refractive errors, how they are caused, what are the symptoms, and how we can treat them. If you are someone with impaired vision or know someone who is. Then this blog is for you.

Understanding Refractive Errors

Medically speaking, refractive errors are the errors your eyes make due to the incorrect shape of your eyeball. To understand this clearly, the cornea is the frontal part of your eye which is where the light passes from. This light is focused by the lens and then hits the retina, the back of the eyeball.

Types Of Refractive Errors

The retina then converts the light into electrical signals that your brain uses as a signal to create a vision. Now, depending on the shape of your eyeball, refractive errors are made. This can hinder your eyesight for near or far objects.

Types Of Refractive Errors

Although refractive errors are common these days in all walks of life. Some distinctions make them different from each other.


Myopia or in simple terms, nearsightedness. This condition occurs when an individual faces difficulty in seeing distant objects, but can see the objects near to them. In this case, your eyes tend to grow long from the back which makes your cornea or lens curved. It is also common in children when they are about 10 years old.


This is the reverse of myopia. When an individual has difficulty seeing things close to them clearly, and is called farsightedness. This condition occurs when your eyes are too short from the front to back which makes the lens flat or less curved. Individuals with farsightedness tend to develop at birth.


This condition is age-related and common for people above the age of 40. It's like farsightedness but can be developed as people age. People with presbyopia tend to wear reading glasses as their lenses are less flexible to see things up close.


This condition of refractive eyes makes things in the distance look blurry. It occurs because the shape of the eye is similar to the back of the spoon. Which makes the light entering your lens become more distorted. People develop astigmatism at any phase of their life and some are born with it. 

Causes Of Refractive Errors

It is pretty evident that the change in the lens, shape of the eye, or distance of the cornea from the retina, can cause refractive errors. It can also affect people with a family history of eye conditions and senior adults. There are also instances where individuals who have undergone surgery to remove their cataracts from their eyes, develop refractive errors. These conditions may also occur from watching too much screen at a close distance.

Symptoms Of Refractive Errors

Refractive errors start gradually and if neglected, then it can worsen your vision. Look out for these symptoms and have your eyes checked every six months.

  • Facing difficulty in looking at the blackboard which is 10 feet far
  • Blurred vision
  • Straining in the eyes which can also result in headaches
  • Seeing two things instead of a single object in front of you
  • Squinting of eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Have difficulty in seeing things close by
  • Difficulty in seeing things in dim light
  • Continuous rubbing of eyes
  • Alignment of the eyes is incorrect

Treatment Options For Refractive Errors

Treatment for refractive errors includes wearing glasses and surgery. Medications only work for a temporary period and are often considered ineffective. For permanent clear vision, your eye doctor will give you options for using lenses, glasses, or surgery.

Using Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are thin round lenses that rest on your eyes to give you clear vision. It comes with a set of instructions to use and clean for prolonged benefits. One benefit of these contact lenses is that they move naturally with your eyeballs and you don’t have to adjust them frequently.

You would have to take special care of the lenses and use the solution to keep them and your eyes clean all the time. There is one downfall of the lenses, they cannot be worn wet, or if you are near a water body then you would have to remove them.

Wearing Power Glasses

Just like contact lenses, there are power glasses that can help to correct your refractive errors. It is less invasive and can be used for rough and tough environments. Your eye doctor will diagnose your condition and then prescribe you the power you are supposed to wear on the glasses. These power glasses also protect your eyes from dust and heavy winds.


Surgery is a one-time permanent solution for refractive errors. Senior adults with impaired vision are often recommended to undergo LASIK surgery which will help them with clear vision. There are other surgeries as well:

  • Photorefractive Keratectomy
  • Radial Keratotomy
  • Astigmatic Keratotomy
  • Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty
  • Laser Thermal Keratoplasty
  • Conductive Keratoplasty, and
  • Intracorneal rings


Refractive errors cannot be prevented and need to be treated as soon as detected. You may worsen your vision if you do not use any of the treatment options from above. Even after surgery, there is a set of rules to follow to maintain the vision correctly.

If the refractive errors are not treated on time, there is a possibility that you may develop glaucoma, lazy eye, crossed eye, or low vision. Visit your eye doctor every six months to have your eyes checked or for any complications that you might be facing. Also, try to Reduce screen time


 Huang J, Wen D, Wang Q, et al. Efficacy comparison of 16 interventions for myopia control in children: a network meta-analysis. Ophthalmology. 2016;123:697–708. [PubMed]

Williams KM, Verhoeven VJ, et al. Prevalence of refractive error in Europe: the European eye epidemiology. Eur J Epidemiol. 2015;30:305–15. Article 

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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