Our eyes are complex processors of light and images. The cornea, the transparent dome-shaped outermost layer of the eye, acts as a window. As light enters your eye, the cornea bends, or refracts the light, focusing it onto the lens. Your lens then further focuses the light onto the retina, a light-sensing layer of cells that lines the back of your eye. Your retina converts the light to signals, which are then sent to your brain through the optic nerve. Your brain, in turn, interprets these signals as images.
Refractive errors can prevent light from being properly focused onto the retina. If your retina does not receive properly focused light, your brain will perceive images as blurry. Refractive errors occur due to certain anatomical characteristics - specifically anomalies in the length of the eyeball, irregularities in the shape of the cornea or a less flexible aging lens.
Although the most common indicator of a refractive error is blurred vision, an individual may also experience other symptoms, such as halos around light, eye strain and squinting, headaches and double vision.
Refractive errors are the most common vision disorders in the United States. There are four types of refractive errors: myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (distorted vision) and presbyopia (aging eyes).
Refractive errors can be diagnosed with a routine eye examination, which includes testing the clarity of vision and evaluating the cornea, as well as the back of the eye.
Clarity of vision, also referred to as visual acuity, is determined using an eye chart. If you have trouble seeing the chart, the examiner will ask you to view the chart with the aid of different corrective lenses. Our eye specialist will then note which lens improves your vision most.
To examine the cornea, our eye doctor will use a slit lamp, which provides a magnified view of the eye. Another instrument, called an ophthalmoscope, is used to check the back of the eye, which contains the retina and optic nerve. In some cases, our eye specialist will administer special eyedrops to dilate the pupils, thus making it easier to view the retina and optic nerve area.
Prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses are the two most common ways to correct refractive errors and optimize your vision. For many people, contact lenses offer a safe and effective alternative to wearing glasses. Contact lenses are worn directly on the eye, therefore the whole field of vision will be in focus. For those who participate in sports, this can be an advantage.
Refractive surgery is a procedure that changes the shape of the cornea. At Beach Eye Medical Group we offer the latest refractive surgery technologies for LASIK and LASEK. If your eyesight is blurry or you feel eye strain, email us or call (714) 765-9696 to schedule your appointment.
1 Nearsightedness. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nearsightedness/symptoms-causes/syc-20375556
2 Hyperopia (Farsightedness). Available: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/farsightedness
3 What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment. Available: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-astigmatism
4 Presbyopia. Available: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/presbyopia?sso=y
Written by Dr. Shah
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