About Refractive Errors

Millions of Americans are affected by refractive errors in their vision. In order to see as clearly as possible at a range of distances, light must refract (bend) properly onto the eye’s retina. If the eye is shaped irregularly, the retina may not be able to appropriately focus rays of light. This leads to refractive errors, which cause images at certain distances to appear blurry.

The most common refractive errors are nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia, and astigmatism. Below, you will find brief explanations of each of these conditions and information on some of the advanced treatments for refractive errors offered by our top ophthalmologists in Salt Lake City. If you have questions, or if you would like to schedule an eye exam, please contact The Eye Institute of Utah today.

Myopia (Nearsightedness)


Myopia, or nearsightedness, is an eye condition that occurs when the cornea is too steep or the eye too long. This means the light that enters the eye can’t focus correctly, causing distant objects to appear blurry.

If you are nearsighted, you may be a candidate for a laser vision correction procedure such as LASIK or PRK. If you have very high levels of myopia, the Visian ICL® implantable contact lens may be a better procedure for you.

Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

hyperopiaHyperopia, or farsightedness, is a condition where near and intermediate objects appear blurry. In farsightedness, the eye is too short, which causes the light to focus past the retina. Procedures such as LASIK and PRK can be great options to correct hyperopia.

Presbyopia (Need for Reading Glasses)

presbyopiaPresbyopia occurs when you lose the ability to see clearly when performing activities such as reading a newspaper, book, or menu. You will notice that presbyopia develops progressively over time, and your reading or near vision will continue to worsen and become blurry. Many people have nicknamed presbyopia the “long-arm” disease because they develop the need to hold reading materials further away. Eventually, this condition may affect your intermediate vision (working at computers) as well. Presbyopia usually starts in your mid-40s, and is a normal age-related process that everyone eventually experiences.

While reading glasses have traditionally been the most common way to address this condition, our practice offers a number of advanced options to treat presbyopia and reduce the need for corrective eyewear. These solutions include multifocal intraocular lenses such as ReSTOR®, TECNIS® and Symfony® lenses to bring back the whole range of near vision. These presbyopia-correcting lenses can be implanted during refractive lens exchange (RLE) surgery or during a Custom Cataract Procedure. Our practice also offers some of the newest and most innovative presbyopia treatments: the Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay and the KAMRA Corneal Inlay.

Learn more about presbyopia.

It’s so nice not having to wear glasses or contacts, I hated them. I had a prescription of a -5.00, my glasses were pretty thick and I wore them for 30 years. I can see better now than I ever have before. I’m glad I chose The Eye Institute of Utah for my vision correction! Thanks again.*
Russel, UT


astigmatismAstigmatism is a common eye condition that is caused by an irregularly-shaped cornea. The cornea should be a spherical shape, but with astigmatism, it is shaped like a football. This can result in blurred vision or double-images at all distances. Previously, people with high amounts of astigmatism were not candidates for laser vision correction. However, with today’s technology, LASIK and PRK can be excellent procedures for people with astigmatism. The precise laser is able to reshape the cornea and restore crisp, clear vision.

Frequently Asked Questions about Refractive Errors  

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about refractive errors. If you have further questions, we encourage you to contact us today and a member of our team will be happy to help.

What are refractive errors?

Refractive errors are what characterizes common vision conditions such as myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism. In order to have the clearest vision possible, the eye must be shaped a certain way to make it possible for light to focus and refract properly onto the retina. When the eye is shaped irregularly, it can make it challenging for the retina to focus light in a way that yields the best possible vision. This can result in a refractive error, which can cause images to look blurry and unfocused at near, far, and/or intermediate distances.

How do I know when it’s time to have treatment for a refractive error?

If you are noticing images at certain distances that appear blurry or otherwise irregular, it’s best to see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Ideally, individuals should have at least one comprehensive eye exam each year to monitor the health of the eyes and vision. If you have been affected by refractive errors for many years and have addressed the problem with corrective eyewear, it’s important to know that there are many state-of-the-art surgical options that can dramatically improve your vision while reducing or even eliminating your dependence on glasses and contact lenses. Our eye care team will be happy to meet with you for an initial consultation and eye examination to identify any potential concerns and talk with you about treatment options.

What are the treatment options for refractive errors?

The field of ophthalmology has advanced greatly over the years, allowing individuals many more options other than standard eyeglasses and contact lenses to improve their vision. Laser vision correction techniques such as LASIK and PRK are some of the most popular treatments available to help patients see clearly at a range of distances. In addition, options such as the Visian ICL®, corneal inlays including Raindrop® and KAMRA, or intraocular lens replacement surgeries can offer patients an alternative to laser procedures that achieve similar results.

At The Eye Institute of Utah, our doctors strive to provide patients with the latest treatments for refractive errors. If you have one of the refractive errors discussed above and would like to learn about possible surgical vision correction options, call us at 801-876-5390 and find out what options are available for you.

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*Individual Results May Vary

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