Refractive Error

What is a Refractive Error?

  1. Refractive error is a problem with focusing light accurately onto the retina due to the shape of the eye, resulting in formation of a blurred image.
  2. Refractive error is one of the leading eye problems in children in recent years. The prevalence of refractive error, according to the recent survey, states that 8 out of every 100 children have a refractive error of some kind. Myopia (short/near-sightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism are various kinds of refractive error conditions.

What causes refractive error?

  1. There is more than one reason that can cause a refractive error. Some children inherit the condition from their parents whereas others could develop it during growing-up.
  2. Recent research works suggest that children who involve in more hours of near work are at the risk of developing myopia.
  3. Children born prematurely are also highly susceptible to developing refractive error, in most cases myopia.
  4. Children having behavioural problems and delayed developmental milestones are also found to have the problem of refractive error.

What are the symptoms of refractive error in children?

  • Usually, infants will not be able to express themselves if they cannot see.
  • But, as parents what could be noted is, lack of eye contact and a social smile on their faces while looking at a familiar face, they may even face difficulty in replicating the facial expressions.
  • Among toddlers and pre-schoolers, one could observe them watching television sitting close to it, squeezing their eyes while looking at something or even developing a certain head posture while looking at the distant things.
  • In school going children, the teacher may notice their difficulty in copying from the blackboard or the children may themselves report their inability to copy correctly or at all.

How is refractive error diagnosed?

Diagnosis of refractive error is very simple. The child is asked to read a visual acuity chart, in preverbal children, some different methods along with the use of lenses help in determining the refraction. In a few children, some additional tests could be carried out to confirm the power.

How is refractive error treated in Children?

It is usually treated by prescribing corrective lenses in the form of spectacle or contact lenses.