Today’s life is incredibly straining for the eyes for our young ones. The prevalence of technology, environmental factors, genetics and unexpected events can affect children’s vision. Therefore, our pediatric eye doctor recommends that your children have their first ophthalmologist check up around the age of 3. In the case of eyesight and eye health, early detection is crucial! In our last article 5 common eye and vision problems experienced by children we went through the common eye problems that children experience. Refractive error is an important one.

WHO estimates that 153 million people worldwide live with visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors, without including uncorrected presbyopia “which is likely to be quite significant, according to some early evidence”.

But, what is a refractive error? There are many specific types of refractive errors that differ in their symptoms and treatments. So, we will breakdown the 4 most common types of refractive errors for you! But, first, let us explain what the umbrella term, refractive error, means.

What is a refractive error?

Refraction, related to vision, refers to the bending of light rays as they pass through the cornea and the lens. This allows vision to happen. The retina then changes these light rays into messages that the brain can interpret into the images that we see.

Refractive error occurs when the irregular shape of the eyeball (shorter or longer) prevents light from focusing directly on the retina. The length of the eyeball is so crucial because it consequently changes the shape of the cornea. The WHO explains that this condition results in blurred vision, which can manifest itself into a serious visual impairment. Therefore, if you suspect that your child is suffering with blurred vision, do not hesitate to contact our pediatric eye doctor.

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4 most common types of refractive errors

  1. Astigmatism

This condition occurs mostly from the irregular shape of the front of the cornea – the transparent layer around the front of the eye. This means that the light is not focused evenly on the retina (back of the eye) resulting in blurry vision. Prevent Blindness add that “persons with astigmatism typically see vertical lines more clearly than horizontal ones, and sometimes the reverse” – in other words, the images seem stretched out.

There are three types of astigmatism:

  • Myopic astigmatism
  • Hyperopic astigmatism
  • Mixed astigmatism

A recent study showed that 2,523 American children aged 5 to 17 years (28%) had astigmatism of 1.0 diopter or more. Astigmatism can be treated with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery, and it is especially effective at an early age. Therefore, it is important to visit a pediatric eye doctor as soon as you suspect this condition.

2. Hyperopia (farsightedness)

Farsightedness refers to the condition where distant objects are seen more clearly than objects that are near. In this circumstance the eyeball is too short for the normal focusing power of the eye. People experience farsightedness differently. At a young age, children might not notice any significant problems, whereas severe hyperopia can affect vision at any distance.

Oftentimes, in children, the lens can regulate the error itself. However, if this is relied on, or done with great intensity, it can lead to considerable fatigue and even strabismus (crossed eyes).

It is recommended to contact your pediatric ophthalmologist when you notice signs of farsightedness, to prevent further conditions from occurring.

3. Myopia (nearsightedness)

This condition means that object close to you appear clearly, while objects in the distance appear blurred. This happens because the eyeball is too long for the normal focusing power of the eye. The National Eye Institute adds that this leads to the incoming light being focused in front of the retina, rather than on the retina itself.

Nearsightedness is a rapidly growing condition in the US with 40% of the population suffering from it TODAY!

This condition typically occurs in childhood and stabilises in early adulthood. However, if neglected it can progress with age. There are many treatment options available, such as glasses, contact lenses and surgery. Therefore, do not hesitate to get in touch with our kids eye doctor as soon as possible.

4. Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a condition that commonly shows up with age. It is the reduction of elasticity of the lens, meaning that focusing on near objects becomes more difficult.

This condition is extremely common and usually treated with glasses or contact lenses – although, surgery is also available. The U.S. Census Bureau, estimated that approximately 112 million Americans were presbyopic in 2006. The experts are forecasting an increase to 123 million by the year 2020.

Since presbyopia is age-related and a normal change to vision, it is not necessary to seek immediate medical care.  However, if you suspect that your child is suffering from this condition, arrange a check up with our child eye doctor immediately.

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About our pediatric eye doctor near you!

Our exceptional doctors, Amy Lambert, MD, and Rachel Bloom, MD, are both board certified pediatric ophthalmologists. Dr. Lambert, the founder of Pediatric Eye Associates, LLc, is also a board certified strabismus surgeon, and Dr. Bloom is additionally fellowship trained. Our child eye doctors are experts at meeting your children’s eye and visual needs. We pride ourselves with the results we achieve with our patients and we believe the key is not just our medical expertise, but also attitude and patience with the children. Our motto is “to provide the highest quality eye care for children in a setting that is comfortable and reassuring.”

We understand that you will have many questions about our Livingston ophthalmologist, so if any of them are still unanswered, please refer to our FAQs page, or contact us. You can get in touch with us by:

  1. Visiting our practice

22 Old Short Hills Rd. Lower Level-1,Livingston, New Jersey 07039

Open hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 – 17:00

  1. Calling us on 973-422-1230
  2. Submitting the enquiry form on our contact us page
  3. Checking our facebook page – Pediatric Eye Associates, LLC

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.