Refractive errors are the most common eye disorder in the world. When they occur they cause patients to experience blurred vision, loss of visual focus, and other ocular disturbances that can vary in severity.  

Aside from blurry vision, other symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, eye strain, and excessive squinting to focus your eyesight often accompany refractive errors in the eye.

What Causes Refractive Errors?

Refractive errors occur when there is a mismatch between your eye’s corneal power and length which prevents light from focusing correctly on your retina. When light is focused too far in front or behind your retina, the image to your brain becomes distorted and out of focus.

Scientific research shows that genetics plays the biggest role in the development of refractive errors. They are typically inherited as a genetic trait from your biological parents and can be present at an early age. 

Refractive errors can also develop as a result of an eye injury, surgery, and other eye conditions such as keratoconus, which causes your cornea to gradually thin overtime.

What Are The Most Common Types of Refractive Errors? 

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Myopia, or more commonly known as nearsightedness, occurs when the eyeball is too long or the eye’s cornea is too curved. This causes light to reach a focal point before reaching the retina, causing anything in the distance to appear blurry. 

Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

On the other hand, hyperopia, or farsightedness, occurs when the eyeball is too short or the cornea is too flat. The light is focused behind the retina causing near vision to be blurred.


Astigmatism is a result of the eye’s cornea having a more drastic curve in one direction – kind of similar to the shape of an egg. Like hyperopia and myopia, astigmatism refracts and distorts light to multiple focal points that don’t meet the retina properly. Those suffering from astigmatism generally have poor distance and near vision. 

As you age, your eye’s natural lens becomes harder and less flexible. Eventually your lens reaches a point where it can no longer bend or focus light well enough, causing your nearby or up close vision to become blurry. This is why it becomes more difficult to read and see things up close as we get older.

How Do You Fix Refractive Errors?

Regular eye exams will allow opthamologists to evaluate the overall health of your eyes and screen for eye conditions that can affect the quality of your vision. Thankfully, refractive errors are easy to diagnose and correct in a number of different ways.

Corrective Eyewear 

middle aged man using glasses to read newspaper

Refractive errors are most commonly treated with corrective eyewear such as glasses or contacts lenses. After receiving an eye exam, your eye doctor can provide you with prescription lenses designed specifically for your refractive error.

Scheduling regular eye exams is important to your vision quality as your prescription changes and refractive errors worsen as you get older.

Refractive Laser Eye Surgery

Laser correcting refractive errors in an eyeball

Refractive laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, offers patients a more permanent solution to corneal refractive errors. The eye surgeons at LaserVue Eye Center use advanced laser technology to physically reshape your cornea and improve its ability to focus the light on your retina. 

SMILE is a pain-free cutting-edge refractive laser eye procedure to correct myopia in a matter of seconds in a less invasive, one-step procedure. LaserVue is proud to be the first laser vision correction center in Northern California to offer the Zeiss VisuMax laser for SMILE Laser Vision Correction.

PRK is the refractive laser eye surgery option for patients with thin or irregularly shaped corneas that may not be suitable for LASIK. The PRK procedure removes a small portion of the topmost layer of the cornea, the epithelium, to reshape the layers underneath. The epithelium grows back over the course of three to four days following the procedure.

Refractive Lens Exchange

The Tecnis Symfony IOL

In some cases, when refractive errors are especially extreme, refractive lens exchange may be an ideal option. This highly precise surgical procedure exchanges the eye’s natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) that properly focuses light and restores your vision. 

With today’s IOL technology, this option not only corrects refractive errors but also prevents vision problems such as presbyopia and cataracts from developing later on in life.

Contact LaserVue Eye Center to Learn More About Refractive Errors and Your Treatment Options Today

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At LaserVue Eye Center, our ophthalmologists specialize in diagnosing and treating all vision issues, including moderate to severe refractive errors. The first step to correcting a refractive error is as simple as receiving a comprehensive eye exam. Our eye doctors use the most advanced technology available to ensure refractive errors are corrected appropriately for each patient on an individual basis.
If you have experienced recent changes in your vision, or have questions or concerns about your current vision prescription, contact LaserVue Eye Center today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.