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What Exactly are Refractive Errors?

A refractive error is a frequent vision problem. Refractive errors happen when the eye cannot focus light properly on the retina. The cause could be the length of the eyeball, changes in the shape of the cornea, or ageing of the lens.

The most common symptom is blurred vision. Double vision, haziness, glare or halos around bright lights, squinting, headaches or eye strain are other symptoms as well.

The following are the four most prevalent refractive errors:

  • Myopia: Also known as nearsightedness, myopia is a condition in which close objects can be seen clearly, but distant objects appear blurry. The condition is usually inherited and is diagnosed in childhood.
  • Hyperopia: In hyperopia, an individual’s cornea does not refract light properly, this causes close-up objects to appear blurry. Children usually have the condition, but its effects decrease with the onset of adulthood.
  • Astigmatism: Astigmatism is a condition in which the eye isn’t completely round; the cornea is irregularly bent, resulting in impaired vision. Astigmatism is present at birth and may occur with other conditions like myopia or hyperopia.
  • Presbyopia: A condition that occurs with age, presbyopia is the thickening and loss of flexibility of the eye lens. This causes difficulties when reading or seeing objects at a distance.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Refractive errors are usually diagnosed in three ways:

  • Visual acuity testing
  • Refraction
  • Comprehensive eye examination

Other forms of treatment are eyeglasses, contact lenses, and refractive surgery.

Common refractive surgeries are:

  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK): A PRK usually corrects vision problems like dry eyes and thin corneas. Firstly, the ophthalmologist will numb your eyes with eye drops. To prevent your eyes from blinking, your eye will be placed on an eyelid holder. Next, the outer layer of cells, the epithelium, will be removed with a special brush, blade, or laser.
  • Intracorneal ring (Intacs): A form of refractive surgery for mild myopia, Intacs starts with a tiny cut in the cornea. After the surgeon makes an incision, two crescent-shaped plastic rings are placed on the cornea’s outer edge. The two rings will make the cornea flatter and will help light rays focus on the retina.
  • Automated lamellar keratoplasty (ALK): This is a common surgery that corrects abnormal curves in the cornea. Because of the cornea’s abnormal shape, the cornea cannot focus light properly on the retina. In an ALK, a cut is made on the corneal layer. This will create a flap that is opened by the surgeon. The underlying cornea is then shaped to improve vision. The surgeon then closes the flap. Eye drops are then given to control pain and inflammation.
  • Radial keratotomy (RK): Like most surgeries, a radial keratotomy is performed to flatten the cornea. Several cuts are made on the cornea. These incisions will weaken the corneal muscles. A proper shape is given to the cornea. This is then followed by the proper administration of eye drops to ease irritation and inflammation.
  • Astigmatic keratotomy (AK): This surgery is for patients with astigmatism. In astigmatism, people have a football-shaped cornea. This odd shape is corrected by making an incision or two in the deepest part of the cornea. This allows it to relax and take a more rounded shape that would limit the effects of astigmatism.
  • Conductive keratoplasty (CK): A CK takes approximately three minutes to perform. The surgeon will begin with the administration of topical anaesthesia. Instead of a laser, radiofrequency energy is applied to the outer cornea. Doing this helps the cornea’s small areas shrink.

Although refractive errors cannot be prevented, they can be detected and controlled with corrective glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. If consulted with an eye doctor early on, refractive errors should not obstruct visual development. Corrective surgeries are of several types and depend on the individual’s problem, the person’s age, and the requirements in terms of work.

If you are experiencing any issues with your eyesight, visit MM Chokshi for a quick check-up.

Look at the world with more clarity. Book an appointment today.

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