About Refractive Errors

In eyes with normal vision, light focuses on the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. Once the retina senses light, it converts the light into the image that you see.

In refractive errors, the eyes are unable to focus light on the retina. This results in blurred vision. The solution is glasses or contact lenses. These bend the beam of light so it focuses properly on the retina. This should restore clear vision.  Glasses (or spectacles) is the most common ways of correcting refractive errors.

Types of Refractive Errors:

There are three common types of refractive errors in children.

Short-Sight (Myopia)

In short-sightedness, the light rays from an object form an image in front of the retina. This happens if the cornea is too curved or if the eye is too long. Distant objects are blurry, but objects at near remain clear.

Long-Sight (Hyperopia)

Distant objects look clear, while nearby objects look blurry. Sometimes, this can be hard to notice. In extreme cases, objects are blurry at any distance. Hyperopia is when light focuses behind the retina because the eye is too small.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism occurs when the curve of the cornea is irregular. This makes vision blurry at any distance.

Causes:

  • The eyeball is either larger or smaller than normal
  • Changes in the lens of the eye
  • Changes in the curvature of the cornea

Risk Factors:

If you have severe myopia, you may have a higher risk of retinal detachment. This is because the eye becomes so long that it pulls on the retina. Myopia takes a long time to reach this stage, so this is not normally a concern for children. However, it may affect adults with refractive errors.

Key points to remember:

  • Wearing glasses is not a stigma!!
  • Without glasses, your child will have blurry vision
  • Blurry vision may make your child struggle in school
  • Vitamin A is not a cure
  • Spectacles will not make your eyes stronger or weaker
  • Encourage your child to wear glasses at all time
  • Avoid games in smaller gadgets (cell phones)
  • Encourage your child in outdoor activities

Glasses do not make your child ugly. They make them see the world better, which is a beautiful thing!

Your child may:

  • Find it difficult to read small letters on the blackboard
  • Squeeze their eyes to see distant objects
  • Hold books close to their face while reading
  • Complain of eye pain or headaches
  • Rub their eyes to see better (This can make their eyelids swell)

Children with myopia might also feel eye strain when reading for a long time. In a few cases, children with hyperopia may develop squint.

Bring your child to an eye doctor if they show any of these symptoms.

All three types of errors are best corrected with spectacles. As your child grows, their eye grows too. This means their eye power may change from time to time. For this reason, all children must follow-up regularly with an eye doctor. If your child is under the age of 5, an eye checkup should be done every 6 months. Older children should get checked once a year.

Other possible treatments include:

  • Contact Lenses usually (for children older than 15)
  • LASIK surgery (for children over the age of 18 with stable eye power)

For the best results, your child should always wear their spectacles.