The Different Types of Refractive Errors

Author: Premier Eye Associates

Have you ever heard of terms like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism when it comes to vision problems? Refractive errors are common vision conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. In this blog, we will delve into the three most prevalent types of refractive errors: nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Understanding these conditions will help you recognize their symptoms, seek appropriate care, and make informed decisions about your vision correction options.


Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is a common refractive error where faraway objects appear blurry, while close objects remain clear. This condition occurs when the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, or the shape of the lens is too curved. As a result, the incoming light focuses in front of the retina instead of directly on it. Some key points about nearsightedness include:

Symptoms: Blurred vision when looking at distant objects, but clear vision when looking at nearby objects.

Causes: Nearsightedness can be caused by factors such as genetic predisposition, excessive close work (like reading or using digital devices), or environmental factors.

Correction: Eyeglasses or contact lenses with concave lenses (also called negative lenses) help shift the focal point back onto the retina, correcting nearsightedness. Refractive surgeries, like LASIK or PRK, can also permanently reshape the cornea to correct myopia.


Farsightedness (Hyperopia)

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a refractive error where near objects appear blurry, while distant objects may appear clear. It occurs when the cornea is too flat or the eye is shorter than normal, causing the incoming light to focus behind the retina instead of directly on it. Here are some important facts about farsightedness:

Symptoms: Difficulty focusing on near objects, such as reading material or screens, leading to eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision.

Causes: Hyperopia can be caused by an abnormal shape of the eye, hereditary factors, or the aging of the eye's lens.

Correction: Convex lenses (also known as positive lenses) in eyeglasses or contact lenses help focus light onto the retina, correcting farsightedness. Refractive surgeries can also reshape the cornea to correct hyperopia.



Astigmatism is a type of refractive error that occurs due to an irregular shape of the cornea or lens, resulting in distorted or blurry vision at all distances. Unlike nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism affects both near and distant vision. Key points about astigmatism include:

Symptoms: Blurred or distorted vision, eye discomfort, and headaches.

Causes: Astigmatism may be caused by the genetic shape of the cornea or lens, corneal scarring, or certain eye diseases.

Correction: Eyeglasses or contact lenses with cylindrical lenses correct the irregular curvature of the cornea or lens, allowing light to focus evenly on the retina. Refractive surgeries can also correct astigmatism by reshaping the cornea.


Talking to Your Eye Doctor about Refractive Errors

With any refractive error or other eye condition, discussing your symptoms and concerns with your eye doctor is the first step toward determining the cause and the best treatment course. Your eye doctor will help decide what type of correction is needed or if there is none required.



Dr. Anthony Spina and the staff of Premier Eye Associates specialize in glasses, soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses, and medical eye exams. Call our eye doctor in Auburn, AL today at (334) 539-5391 or schedule an appointment online if you are interested in learning more about refractive errors. Our optometrist provides only the highest quality eye care services amongst eye doctors in the Auburn Alabama area.

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