Eye Care Education

Vision Problems

Learn About Refractive Conditions

There are many different types of vision problems, but four of the most common causes of impaired vision are related to "refractive" errors.

Education Vision Problems

Common Vision Problems

Below we describe these errors in detail and look at how they are generally treated. To find out if you may be suffering from any of these vision problems, book an eye exam at a Vision Source location near you.

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Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a common and relatively easy to treat vision condition that causes your vision to be blurred and unfocused when focusing on objects both up close and far away. The condition is caused because your cornea or lens is irregularly shaped, preventing light from focusing properly on your retina (the part of your eye that transmits visual imagery to your brain).

Astigmatism often occurs in individuals who have other vision conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). Together, these three vision conditions are often referred to as "refractive errors" because they affect how your eyes bend or "refract" the light they come into contact with.

While the specific causes of astigmatism are unknown, research suggests it's most likely hereditary and something that's present from birth. In fact, most people have some degree of astigmatism, but it's when the condition causes objects to become unfocused, or results in eye discomfort and headaches, that it needs to be treated.

The good news is that astigmatism is easily detected and treated with eyeglasses and contact lenses. 

Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

Hyperopia (also known as farsightedness) is a common, easily treatable vision issue affecting millions of Canadians. If you have hyperopia that means you view objects best when they're far away, but have trouble viewing objects up close. In addition to having problems looking at close-up objects, symptoms of uncorrected hyperopia can also include squinting, eyestrain and headaches.

Hyperopia is caused because your eyeball is either too short or your cornea doesn't have the proper curve. As a result, light entering your eye is not focused correctly, causing images to appear blurry when viewed up close.

In the majority of cases, hyperopia starts in early childhood and you're more likely to develop the condition if one or both of your parents also have it. The condition may also worsen as you age, but in general stabilizes as an adult.

Fortunately, hyperopia is easily detected and can be treated with reading glasses and contact lenses. 

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Myopia (also known as nearsightedness) is one of the most common vision issues that millions of Canadians deal with on a daily basis. If you have myopia you see objects best close up, but have trouble viewing objects in the distance. In addition to the inability to see distant objects, symptoms of uncorrected myopia can also include squinting, eyestrain and headaches.

Myopia is caused because the eyeball is too long or because your cornea or lens has a slight curve, throwing off the focusing power of your eyes and causing light to hit at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on the surface of the retina.

In most cases, myopia starts in childhood and you may be more likely to develop the condition if one or both of your parents also had it. It may also worsen as you age, but in general the condition stabilizes as an adult.

Fortunately, myopia is easily detected and can be treated with either contact lenses or eyeglasses. 

Presbyopia (Aging Eyes)

Presbyopia is a common vision condition in which the lens of your eye loses its flexibility, making it difficult for you to focus on objects up close. While for many patients presbyopia seems to appear all of a sudden, in actuality the loss of lens flexibility occurs over a number of years and usually becomes noticeable in your mid-40s as a natural part of the aging process.

Unfortunately, presbyopia can also complicate other common vision conditions, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. If you've noticed that your vision has become blurry when reading or that you've started to experience headaches and eye fatigue while looking at objects up close, it could be the warning signs of presbyopia.

The good news is that presbyopia is fairly easy to detect and can be treated with glasses, bifocals, trifocals and contact lenses. In fact, you may only need to wear your glasses for reading or working on the computer, but you may find that wearing them all the time is more convenient and helps you see more clearly. 

For additional information on eye health or to book a complete eye exam, visit a Vision Source near you.