Refractive error, also known as refraction error, is a problem with focusing light accurately onto the retina due to the shape of the eye. The most common types of refractive error are near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Near-sightedness results in far away objects being blurry, far-sightedness and presbyopia result in close objects being blurry, and astigmatism causes objects to appear stretched out or blurry. Other symptoms may include double vision, headaches, and eye strain.
Near-sightedness is due to the length of the eyeball being too long, far-sightedness the eyeball too short, astigmatism the cornea being the wrong shape, and presbyopia aging of the lens of the eye such that it cannot change shape sufficiently. Some refractive errors occur more often among those whose parents are affected. Diagnosis is by eye examination.
Refractive errors are corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Eyeglasses are the easiest and safest method of correction. Contact lenses can provide a wider field of vision; however they are associated with a risk of infection. Refractive surgery permanently changes the shape of the cornea.
The number of people globally with refractive errors has been estimated at one to two billion.[ Rates vary between regions of the world with about 25% of Europeans and 80% of Asians affected. Near-sightedness is the most common disorder. Rates among adults are between 15-49% while rates among children are between 1.2-42%. Far-sightedness more commonly affects young children and the elderly. Presbyopia affects most people over the age of 35. The number of people with refractive errors that have not been corrected was estimated at 660 million (10 per 100 people) in 2013. Of these 9.5 million were blind due to the refractive error.It is one of the most common causes of vision loss along with cataracts, macular degeneration, and vitamin A deficiency.
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Journal of optometry : open access