Prescription eyeglasses have been a dependable ally in correcting and improving vision for centuries. But which of the many eye problems can glasses correct? Are there permanent solutions or alternatives to wearing progressive lenses? Let’s discuss.
Vision Problems Corrected by Eyeglasses
Only 35% of the world population has 20/20 vision. For the other 65%, prescription eyewear is a trusted solution for correcting a range of refractive errors, including:
1. Myopia (Nearsightedness)
Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, affects 30% to 40% of adults in the United States and Europe, as well as 80% to 90% of Asian young adults.
With myopia, nearby objects appear clear, while distant objects appear blurry. It occurs when the eyeball is too long, or the cornea’s curvature is too steep, causing light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. Myopia can affect one or both eyes. If nearsightedness occurs in one eye only, the condition is known as simple myopic anisometropia.
Glasses for myopia have concave lenses that diverge light rays, allowing them to focus directly on the retina. These lenses shift the focal point to provide ‘clear distance vision,’ which refers to the ability to see farther objects with improved sharpness and clarity.
2. Hyperopia (Farsightedness)
Hyperopia, more commonly known as farsightedness, affects 10% (around 14 million people) in the United States.
For those with hyperopia, objects from farther away appear clearly, while nearby objects appear blurry. The eyeball might be too short, or the cornea’s curvature is too flat, causing light to focus behind the retina. Similar to myopia, hyperopia can affect both eyes. If farsightedness occurs in one eye only, the condition is known as simple hypermetropic anisometropia.
Corrective glasses for hyperopia have convex lenses to converge light rays, bringing the focal point forward onto the retina. This correction delivers clear close-up vision and helps individuals read, work on computers, or perform other tasks with ease.
People can also be farsighted in one eye and nearsighted in the other, a unique subset of anisometropia called antimetropia. This refractive error is extremely rare, affecting as little as 0.1% of the population.
Corrective eyewear for antimetropia has different zones for near and distance vision, allowing each eye to focus on the appropriate range.
This common refractive error affects 1 in 3 of all people.
Individuals with astigmatism have irregularly shaped corneas or lenses, leading to distorted and blurred vision at various distances.
Eyeglasses for astigmatism feature cylindrical lenses that correct the uneven curvature of each eye’s surface. These lenses enable even focusing of light rays, resulting in clearer, more detailed vision.
What is the difference between astigmatism, myopia, and hyperopia?
While all three of these refractive errors blur or distort vision, they differ in characteristics. To recap side-by-side:
- Astigmatism results from a non-spherical cornea.
- Myopia results from the eye’s length being too large, the corneal focusing power being too high, or both.
- Hyperopia results from the length of the eye being too small, the corneal power being too weak, or both.
Presbyopia is an age-related refractive error. Everyone develops presbyopia, usually beginning at age 45. It makes focusing on near objects challenging due to the gradual loss of the eye’s ability to adjust its focus. Many people have presbyopia in addition to another refractive error.
To combat presbyopia, prescription reading glasses are often necessary. These spectacles have convex lenses designed for close-up activities like reading or knitting.
Vision Problems Eyeglasses Can’t Correct
While prescription eyewear can address the above refractive errors, they are not universal tools for all eye-related issues. Here, we will explore a range of vision problems that eyeglasses alone cannot correct.
1. Color Blindness
Color blindness, also called color vision deficiency (CVD), is a condition where individuals have difficulty distinguishing specific colors or may not perceive colors at all. It occurs due to abnormalities in the photoreceptor cells of the retina, known as color-sensing cones.
Eyeglasses cannot alter the fundamental biology of the cones responsible for color perception, although there are glasses that can make it easier for people to tell colors apart. Still, because there are different CVD types, for some individuals, these glasses will not do anything.
“Color perception requires a complete set of optimally functioning equipment, and glasses will not replace or repair missing or broken mechanisms,” explains Dr. Ivan Schwab, an ophthalmology professor at the University of California, Davis.
2. Blindness or Severe Visual Impairment
Eyeglasses are not a solution for individuals who are blind or have severe loss of vision function. Blindness can result from various factors, including damage to the optic nerve, degenerative eye diseases like retinitis pigmentosa, or congenital conditions. In such cases, alternative assistance methods, such as guide dogs, mobility training, and adaptive technologies, are essential for daily living.
3. Eye Diseases
Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration are examples of eye diseases that prescription glasses cannot correct. These conditions involve structural damage or dysfunction within the eye, and while eyeglasses can improve certain aspects of vision, they cannot halt or reverse the progression of these diseases. Medication or surgical procedures are often necessary to preserve the vision of individuals with these ocular diseases.
Say Goodbye to Your Glasses: Is LASIK Right for You?
While glasses can help with common refractive errors like myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia, surgical intervention like corneal refractive surgery (e.g., LASIK) is an alternative that offers long-lasting correction.
LASIK, or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, has revolutionized the world of vision correction as a highly effective alternative to glasses. This refractive surgical procedure offers individuals the opportunity to reduce or eliminate their dependence on eyeglasses, providing freedom from the hassles of constantly maintaining and wearing corrective eyewear.
Do you want to break free from glasses? LASIK is a transformative and increasingly accessible option for vision correction. Dial 623-474-3937 now to consult a top eye doctor in Sun City, AZ, and determine if you are a suitable candidate for LASIK. Arizona Retinal Specialists is home to leading retina surgeon and ophthalmologist Dr. Gholam Peyman – the inventor of LASIK eye surgery.