Refractive Errors

Uncorrected refractive error is the most common cause of vision impairment and the second leading cause of blindness in the world.

OPC’s Vision for World Sight Day 2020

What are uncorrected refractive errors?

Uncorrected refractive error is the most common cause of vision impairment and the second leading cause of blindness in the world.

It affects 671 million people worldwide

161 million people live with distance vision impairment or blindness

510 million people live with near vision impairment 

Refractive errors are eye disorders caused by irregularity in the shape of the eye. This makes it difficult for the eyes to focus images clearly and visions can become blurred and impaired. Refractive errors include myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia. 


How are refractive errors treated?

  1. Eye exam to determine how badly vision is affected, where the patient reads letters or symbols from a chart.
  2. A diagnosis is made based on the exam results.
  3. Refractive error correction is prescribed, such as glasses, contact lenses, or surgery in some extreme cases. 


Why invest in correcting refractive errors?

These eye disorders are particularly problematic in developing countries, where those affected may not be able to afford vision exams or glasses to help improve their vision. Access to eye care is an additional challenge for those living in rural areas. In the areas where OPC works, the majority of ophthalmologists and optometrists are based in cities, leaving a shortage of trained eye care professionals working in the more rural areas. 

Reducing and correcting refractive errors are an essential part of providing sustainable comprehensive eye care services. Together with its partners and donors, OPC ensures that uncorrected refractive error is addressed in its comprehensive eye care programs throughout Francophone Africa. 


Examples of refractive errors:

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