What is Refractive Error?: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Refractive error is a common condition in which the eye’s surface or the cornea is typically curved and blurred.

Refractive error is affected by an irregularly shaped lens located behind the cornea.

It affects children and adults. It usually occurs at birth or birth but can also occur after eye surgery and eye injuries.

Consider that eye condition a group called refractive error. It happens when the cornea or lens is not whole and even.

A refraction test is giving as a section of an eye examination. This test tells your doctor exactly what medicine you need in your glasses or contact lenses.

It sharpens light on the back of the eye and creates blurring.

an error of refraction
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Table of Contents

Symptoms of refractive error

A common symptom of refractive error:

  • Vague or distorted vision at all distances
  • headache
  • Excessive squinting
  • Eye strain, when reading a paper or computer screen
  • Then the eye has difficulty concentrating for a long time
  • A person with these signs may not have blurred vision but should perform an eye examination.

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Causes of refractive error

Refractive error occurs when the cornea, lens, and both are in an irregular position.

The cornea is the transparent layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye. It throws light at the back of the eye and focuses when it protects against eye damage.

In a person with opacity, the cornea sometimes has two different eggs instead of being rounded. It is known as corneal astigmatism.

Because some people are born with a cornea that does not take a correctly corneal turn but can also be genetic.

Certain types of surgery and eye injuries can cause scarring in the cornea.

Keratoconus is a degenerative disorder of the eye in which the cornea gradually loosens and changes to a cone shape. It is a condition known as irregular blurring.

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These tools are used for an eye examination

Visual Equity Test: This involves reading letters on paper. The letters appear smaller on each line.

Estimated Dial: A chart showing a series of lines that form a semicircle. People with full vision will see clearly, while people with blurred vision will see more clearly than others.

Keratometer or ophthalmometer: This device measures the light reflected from the surface of the cornea. It covers the radius of curvature of the cornea and evaluates the degree of abnormal shape.

Corneal topography: This procedure provides information about the shape of the cornea.

Correctable Refractors Error

The prevalence of amblyopia was 0.8% in urban and 0.29% in rural children. This defect prevents the single light focus on the retina.

Weaknesses result from irregular corneal curvature, the lens’s focusing power, or the eye’s length. The typical symptom is blurred vision, headache, and eyestrain. 

Contact lenses, refractive surgery can correct it.          


  • Hyperopia (farsightedness) causes the light rays to focus behind the retina and requires the patient to use accommodation to focus on the retina for near and far objects. 
  • It occurs when the eyeball is too short. 


  • Myopia (nearsightedness) causes light rays to be focused in front of the retina. There is an inability to accommodate objects at a distance.


  • Presbyopia is the loss of eye ability associated with age. This condition generally appears at about the age of 45 years. As the eye ages, the lens becomes more extensive, firmer, and less elastic. 
  • These changes, which progress with aging, decrease the eye’s accommodative ability. There is an inability to accommodate near objects.


The light rays do not focus on the retina; it occurs with any other refractive errors.


  • Aphakia is the absence of the lens. it may be due to a congenital problem or due to any further cataract surgery.

Non Surgical Corrections

Corrective Glasses  

  • Myopia, hyperopia. Presbyopia, astigmatism, and aphakia can be modified by using the appropriate corrective lens. Myopia requires a minus corrective lens (concave), whereas hyperopia, presbyopia, and aphakia require a plus corrective lens (convex).
  • Contact lenses generally provide better vision than glasses because the patient has more normal peripheral vision without the distortion and obstruction of glasses and their frames. 
  • If the oxygen level is decreased, it declines the visual ability it makes the patient uncomfortable. 
  • To avoid environmental factors such as dirt and avoid allergic conjunctivitis such as itching and tearing.       
  • The patient should know the signs and symptoms of contact lens problems that must be managed by the eye care professional. The patient may remember these symptoms better if the nurse uses the mnemonic device RSVP.
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity
  • Vision problems
  • Pain
  • The nurse must stress the importance of removing the contact lens immediately if any of these problems occur.

Corneal Molding


  • Corneal molding, also called orthokeratology, uses specially designed, rigid, gas-permeable contact lenses to alter the cornea’s shape.
  • It reduces or corrects myopia and moderate degrees of astigmatism. The cornea is molded by fitting progressively flatter rigid contact lenses and requires the regular wearing of “retainer” contact lenses to maintain corneal shape.

Surgical Treatment

laser surgery

Intraocular lens Implantation 

  • Laser:  Laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses (LASIK) may be considered for patients with low to moderately high amounts of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. 
  • It is done with a laser or surgical blade to create a thin flap in the cornea using a new technology called “wave-front,” the laser is then programmed to use a map of the patient’s cornea to sculpt the cornea and correct the refractive error.
  • The flap is then repositioned adheres on its own without sutures in a few minutes.


Frequently Asked Question


What are the symptoms of refractive error?

The most common symptom is blurred vision. Other symptoms may include double vision, blurred vision, glare or halos around bright light, squinting, headache, or eye strain. To correct this we can take the help of glasses or contact lenses.

Can you cure refractive error?

While there is no cure for refractive errors, there are ways to improve your vision if you have this eye condition. Ways to improve your vision if you have reversible errors include: Wearing glasses – an easy and safe way to improve your vision.

Is Refractive Error Permanent?

During laser eye surgery, your surgeon reshapes the outer surface of your eyeball, so it can refract light better. This gives permanent results, but it also carries the risk of complications.

How is refractive surgery performed?

Refractive surgery involves cutting a small hinged flap just off the front of your eye using a small blade or cutting laser. This provides access to shape part of the cornea by folding the flap.


Regular eye examinations should be done to maintain the health of your vision.

Older and healthier people should be tested for refraction every two years. Keep your eyes clean.

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