What is a refractive error?

A refractive error occurs when the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly – resulting in blurry vision.

The types of refractive errors are:

Myopia (nearsightedness): People with myopia can see clearly up close, but distance objects are blurry.


Hyperopia (farsightedness): People with hyperopia generally have blurry close vision but clearer distance vision. In more severe cases, vision may be blurry at all distances.


Astigmatism (an irregular cornea): This refractive error usually occurs when the surface of the eye is asymmetric in its curvature.


Presbyopia (age related loss of near vision): After the age of 40, most people will experience a loss of near vision. This is caused by decreased flexibility in the natural lens of the eye.


Refractive errors are generally harmless, although severe refractive errors can cause other issues. For instance, people with severe myopia are more at risk of retinal detachment, which cause permanent vision loss.

Refractive Error Treatments

People with refractive errors generally use glasses and contact lenses to see clearly. For more permanent solutions, patients may opt for LASIK surgery, PRK, ICLs, or Refractive Lens Exchange.


LASIK surgery is the most popular permanent vision correction procedure. LASIK is best for those with moderate myopia and hyperopia, as well as astigmatism. During this procedure, your surgeon will use laser technology to reshape the eye. After this, light will focus correctly onto the cornea, resulting in clearer vision.


Very similar to LASIK surgery, but less popular because of its longer recovery time. This procedure is good for people who may not be suitable for LASIK surgery. If you have a weaker or thinner cornea, lead an active lifestyle, or have had previous eye injuries, PRK may be a better option for you.


ICL, which stands for implantable collamer lenses, work very similarly to contact lenses, except they are implanted into the cornea. These offer a more permanent solution to vision correction, and are reversible if results are not satisfactory.

Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive lens exchange is performed the same way that cataract surgery is performed. The natural lens in the eye is completely replaced with a new, artificial lens. This is great for people with severe hyperopia and presbyopia, but is not usually performed when LASIK or PRK are options.

Want to know more about refractive errors and their treatments? Be sure to request an appointment with Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology today!

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