All About Refractive Errors: Myopia, Hyperopia, & Astigmatism

Issues such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are more common than you may think. They’re commonly known as refractive errors which are the most common vision problem worldwide and can often go undiagnosed. This blog is all about refractive errors so you can tell if it’s time for your next comprehensive eye exam at Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical.

refractive errors

Refractive errors are caused by having a misshapen eye or eyes. They come in different types with all of them affecting your vision in different ways. Common symptoms include blurry vision, headaches, and squinting. You can be diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam and treated with prescription glasses, contact lenses, or LASIK surgery.

What Are Refractive Errors?

A refractive error is a unique vision problem that makes it difficult to see as clearly as you should. They specifically interfere with your vision due to having a misshapen eye or eyes, preventing light from being able to focus on your retina correctly. The retina is vital since it acts as a bridge between the light that enters your eyes and the images that you see.

While this may sound dangerous, refractive errors are actually quite common. In fact, they are the most common type of vision problem worldwide. In the United States alone over 150 million Americans have some type of refractive issue. Unfortunately, many don’t even realize that they have a refractive error and could see more clearly with proper treatment.

To learn how refractive errors can affect your yearly eyewear prescription, click here!


Types of Refractive Errors

Refractive errors come in four main types:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia

Myopia causes objects that are far away to appear blurry. This occurs when the misshapen eye causes light to focus in front of the retina instead of on it. Hyperopia results in the opposite problem. Also known as farsightedness, hyperopia causes up-close objects to appear blurry. This is caused by light being focused behind the retina instead of on it.

Astigmatism is the result of your cornea (the clear front layer of your eye) or lens (which helps your eye focus) being misshapen in some way. This common eye issue can cause your vision to become distorted and blurry. Presbyopia involves the lens losing its ability to correctly focus light on the retina. It’s a natural part of aging that everyone will experience eventually.

Click here to read our ultimate guide to children’s vision and learn how refractive errors can affect your child’s eyesight! 


Refractive Error Symptoms refractive errors treatment

Blurry vision is often the most common complaint about refractive errors. However, there are other symptoms that you should be aware of. 

This includes:

  • Seeing halos or glare around bright lights
  • Headaches
  • Squinting
  • Eye strain

If you have an undiagnosed refractive error then your symptoms may seem normal to you. That’s why it’s so important to get a comprehensive eye exam which allows our optometrists to take a deep look into your eye health.

Diagnosing Refractive Errors – Comprehensive Eye Exams in Knoxville, TN

The best way to diagnose a refractive error is with a comprehensive eye exam. Unlike the vision screenings you may have had in school, these in-depth exams allow Dr. Travis Thompson and Dr. Catherine Abbott to examine the inner structures of your eyes. This allows them to spot eye problems that may be developing or that you may have a higher risk of developing in the future. 

Comprehensive eye exams involve familiar tests such as reading off of charts to test for acuity and having lights flashed in your eyes to check your corneas. However, what truly makes them unique is the dilation of your pupils. This is how our optometrists are able to see into your eye so clearly and examine your overall health.

They say your eyes are the window to the soul and for good reason. Your eyes can indicate how your overall health is doing, making comprehensive eye exams all the more important. 

They allow our optometrists to look for signs of:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disorders

And that’s just to name a few! This is possible due to the fact that comprehensive eye exams give Dr. Thompson and Dr. Abbott a window to see the blood vessels in your eyes. While other methods do exist, they can be uncomfortable for patients, making comprehensive exams much more preferable.

To learn more about comprehensive eye exams in Knoxville, click here!


Refractive Error Treatments in Knoxville

Refractive errors can have a major impact on your vision. Fortunately, there are some simple fixes available to help you see the world around you more clearly. 

This includes:

  • Prescription eyeglasses
  • Prescription contact lenses
  • LASIK surgery

At Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical, we offer a wide variety of prescription eyewear to suit your vision needs as well as your personal style. You can find the most popular eyeglass frames from brands such as Tiffany & Co., Coach, Ray-Ban, and Ralph Lauren. We also offer a wide variety of contact lenses including daily disposable lenses for maximum comfort and safety.

While we don’t offer it in our office, LASIK eye surgery can be a great option for clearer vision. This procedure fixes your cornea to remove any refractive errors as well as the need for corrective eyewear in many cases, at least until you get older.

 Not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK so a consultation with an ophthalmologist is required, but our doctors at Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical will be able to refer you to a local ophthalmologist in Knoxville, TN.

Are you suffering from refractive error symptoms? Contact us today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam!


Having a misshapen eye can result in common vision problems known as refractive errors. They come in different types and they affect your vision in different ways. Along with blurry vision, you may experience headaches and the need to squint in order to see clearly. Refractive errors are diagnosed with comprehensive eye exams and treated with glasses, contacts, or LASIK surgery.

Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical has been serving Knoxville since 2009. Located at 10904 Spring Bluff Way, you can schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (865) 888-0892.

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Thompson was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. His family has lived in the Hardin Valley area since 1998, and he graduated from Karns High School in 2004. Dr. Thompson runs Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical alongside his wife, Dr. Catherine Abbott.

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"Dr. Thompson is super professional, and has some of the best 'bedside manner' that I have ever witnessed from any doctor. His staff was very helpful in assisting me with picking out regular frames and sunglasses. I’d happily recommend Dr. Thompson to anyone looking for a eye doctor."
Cody C.