Do I Need Glasses?
There are many types of refractive error that can be corrected by prescription glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses. Below is a snapshot of some of the types of refractive error and the ways used to correct them via various methods!
Myopia - Near-sighted (Distance Vision Blurred)
Myopia is becoming increasingly common in today's digital world, as we use tablet computers, mobile phones and computers in a much more regular basis than previously, taking less breaks and giving our focusing muscles and lens much more work to do than before. This coupled with a family history of short-sightedness, has lead to levels of Myopia in some countries as high as 80%! You might think this is just good for business? You'd be wrong! Myopia occurs due to the progressive lengthening of the eyeball which shifts the focal point forward and leaves distance vision blurred.
With more of the population becoming Myopic at a younger age, we're seeing trends toward moderate to high Myopia development in much younger ages, which in turn leads to a greater chance of Myopic degeneration of the retina, earlier cataract formation, and retinal detachment, all due to the increasing length of the eyeball and the strain it places on the tissue thin retinal fibre layer. This can lead to irreversible blindness, and the best chance we have at lowering the levels of adverse events is to both correct with glasses/contact lenses, and to use up to date well researched methods in Myopia control and prevention. Come and see our Optometrist if you've noticed that script seems to be getting bigger every year but your current clinician just see's their KPI's being met with extra sales!
Hyperopia - Far-sighted (Near vision blurred)
Hyperopia or Far-sightedness is more common later in life for people who didn't need glasses originally, and can sometimes present as Presbyopia (see below), but Hyperopia can also occur in very high levels in Children and go unnoticed until vision starts to decline in one or both eyes, causing amblyopia.
In adults, the first sign can be difficulty reading small print, issues with focusing, excessive squinting (seen in picture), or the token "hold the arms out as long as they'll go to read the menu" sign as well. Progressively people who are Hyperopes will end up in Multifocal lenses - where one part of the lens is dedicated to distance vision, and the prescription progressively gets higher to assist with intermediate and close up vision too.
In Children it's not so simple, full correction is usually discovered after using eye drops called "cycloplegic agents" which will temporarily stop the lens from focusing over the Hyperopia and the full prescription can be found via refraction. Symptoms of moderate to high Hyperopia in children can include avoidance of near tasks and reading, struggling at school, abnormal reading posture, and in more severe cases a lazy/turned eye. If you suspect any of these issues in your kids, bring them in for a full Paediatric work-up exam to check both the prescription and the binocular visual system, the sooner the better to avoid any changes in visual development!
Astigmatism - Oval or Rugby Ball shaped eyes
Astigmatism or the dreaded "stigmas" as patients often like to call them, occurs very frequently within the general population and it's name is often suggestive of a disorder or disease of the eye, when generally it's just a mild refractive error as seen in the picture here. The cornea and tear film form an oblong or rugby ball shaped refractive surface, leading to a smearing effect on vision which is usually correctable with glasses or contact lenses.
However in some instances, astigmatism can be induced by other processes that are degenerative and considered a disease, such as Keratoconus, and often in these circumstances advanced contact lens fitting and referral for preventative treatment by an Ophthalmologist may be required.
Presbyopia (Age related visual decline)
We've all seen our parents do it at one time or another, holding the menu out as far away as they can at dinner, lifting their glasses to their forehead to see, furrowing their brows at the same time, squinting and trying to read small print, don't stress!! The term Presbyopia is from Greek πρέσβυς presbys meaning "old" and ὤψ ōps meaning "sight" which is pretty much the most horrible Greek derivation word used in Optics, but consider it an achievement "unlocked" of sorts, a complete lack of immaturity or the gaining of wisdom, Presbyopia is often easily corrected by any number of methods including prescription glasses, contact lenses and even sometimes with laser corrective surgery.
Basically on a physiological level, Presbyopia occurs when the muscle that controls the focus of the intraocular lens like a camera, loses it's ability to bring objects within the near visual arc into focus. Often in denial people will continue to hold smaller print or objects as far out as possible, or resort to using cheap magnifiers from the Chemist or servo, which sometimes may be all that's required, but usually the optimum correction should be produced with the assistance of your Optometrist!
Multifocal lenses or Progressive Addition Lenses (PAL's) are usually the best form of correction, particularly if there is a prescription in the distance as well, however quite often patients often prefer to have reading only glasses for near tasks and no correction for the distance. Multifocal contact lenses can also provide the freedom from spectacle wear and there are so many options on the market these days that we're bound to find one that suits your needs!
Now you know all about the types of refractive errors we see in clinic, come on down and book in to see if your vision could be better! Click above on the "Book Appointment" tab, and scroll down to choose the location closest to you, and keep an eye on our Facebook page for more updates and changes to each location we visit!