There is often confusion about certain words and phrases you may hear at the eye doctor’s office. For example, you may have been told you have “refractive error.”
In this post, we’re going to offer an explanation for many common eye care terms you often hear during a comprehensive eye exam in simple, plain English.
What’s a “Refractive Error”? Learn All 4 Types
A refractive error is when the eye cannot accurately focus light on the retina due to the shape of the eye and/or cornea. There are four main refractive errors:
- Astigmatism can cause images to look blurry at near or far distances, and can result in headaches.
- Hyperopia, also known as farsightedness, allows a person to see at distance but not when objects are close up.
- Myopia, or nearsightedness, provides excellent near vision but blurry eyesight at things in the distance.
- Presbyopia, the fourth type, makes it difficult to see up close. It commonly occurs with age.
Seeing 20/20 — What Does “Visual Acuity” Mean?
Some people are not sure what the term visual acuity means. Visual acuity refers to the clarity or sharpness of vision:
- When someone says they have 20/20 vision, it means they can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. However, having 20/20 vision doesn’t necessarily indicate perfect vision — visual acuity only describes the clarity of vision at a specific distance.
- In contrast, if a person has 20/100 vision, it means that they have to be 20 feet away to see what a person with normal vision would be able to see at 100 feet away.
Never Be Afraid to Ask your Eye Doctor
If one of your doctors or technicians uses a word or phrase you don’t understand, please don’t hesitate to ask them to explain it to you. When you’re in a doctor’s office, there are no stupid questions. Remember, at Atlantic Medical Eye Care, we’re here to help!
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