What are Refractive Errors?

Refractive, or refraction, errors are very common and occur when your eye does not bend light correctly. This causes blurry vision.

Common refractive errors are nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia.

Types of Refractive Errors


Myopia is also called nearsightedness. People with myopia can see close up clearly, but objects far away are blurry.

Nearsightedness often runs in families. It can develop slowly or quickly, but often becoming worse in childhood or teen-age years.

Nearsightedness is easily fixed with glasses or contacts, or with surgery to implant a new lens in the eye.


Hyperopia is also called farsightedness. People with myopia can see far away clearly, but close objects are blurry.

It can be treated with classes, contacts or surgery.


Astigmatism is a problem with the curve of the eye that makes the surface egg-shaped instead of round. This is a common problem that does not always cause symptoms.

Signs of astigmatism can include:

  • Blurry vision

  • Eye strain

  • Headaches

  • Difficulty seeing at night

Astigmatism can be treated with glasses, contacts or surgery.


As we age, our eyes lose their ability to focus on nearby objects. This is called presbyopia.

Presbyopia typically begins in your early to mid-40s and develops slowly. Early signs include:

  • Holding reading materials further away to make letters clearer

  • Blurred vision at normal reading distance

  • Eyes strain or headache after reading

Treatment options for presbyopia include reading glasses, either over-the-counter or prescription, bifocals, contact lenses or surgery.

Diagnosing Refractive Errors

Refractive errors can be easily diagnosed in a basic eye exam that includes a refraction assessment. A refraction assessment can determine if you have nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia.

Guthrie Specialty Eye Care’s optometrists perform basic eye exams at several locations in Pennsylvania and New York:

Make an appointment by calling 800-4-SIGHT-2 (800-474-4482).

Glasses and Contacts

Refractive errors can be corrected with glasses or contacts. Learn more about Guthrie optical services.

Glasses, contacts and specialized lens available at several Guthrie locations in New York and Pennsylvania.