There are 2 forms of refractive error that are more common than most—myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). These 2 conditions make objects at different distances appear blurry and can be treated with corrective eyeglasses or contacts after a consultation with an optometrist.
But can you experience both of these conditions at the same time?
It is possible to be both nearsighted and farsighted at the same time. This is a condition called anisometropia, where both eyes develop different forms of refractive error, leading to significant vision troubles.
This form of refractive error can even lead to the development of amblyopia (lazy eye), making it essential to receive a proper diagnosis and begin treatment to reduce the long-term effects on your life.
What Is Anisometropia?
Anisometropia is an eye condition where your eyes each develop different refractive errors. This occurs when one eye has a different level of myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism when compared to the other eye—or any combination of these conditions between the 2 eyes. When you have anisometropia, your eyes have an unequal ability to focus.
When healthy, your eyes refract light to reach a focal point on the retina. However, when you have a refractive error, this focal point isn’t located where it needs to be. This can be caused by:
- Myopia, where the eyeball is too long, or the cornea is curved too steeply, leads to this focal point in front of the retina. This leads to difficulty seeing objects the further they are from the eye.
- Hyperopia, where the eyeball is wider than it is long or the cornea is too flat, causing this focal point to be located behind the retina. This leads to difficulty seeing nearby objects clearly but the ease of seeing faraway objects clearly.
- Astigmatism, where the cornea or lens is curved incorrectly, leading to light rays reaching separate focal points in the eye. This causes symptoms similar to myopia or hyperopia, depending on the type of astigmatism experienced.
What Are the Effects of Anisometropia?
When the eyes have 2 conditions that cause refractive errors, it can lead to the brain receiving conflicting visual information, leading to difficulties in building an image of your environment. If one eye sees something in front of you clearly, but the other eye sees it as blurry, it causes the brain to struggle to build a proper image.
This can lead the brain to favor one eye over the other subconsciously. The brain begins to automatically ignore information received by the “worse” eye.
This can lead to a range of symptoms similar to those caused by refractive errors, like:
- Blurry vision
- Eye strain
- Problems with depth perception
How Serious Is Anisometropia?
Anisometropia is a serious condition that can have long-term consequences if left untreated. As the brain begins to suppress the information it receives, it may lead to the “worse” eye becoming blurrier and blurrier. This can lead to the brain completely ignoring this eye, which stops this eye from focusing at all.
If this occurs, it can lead to amblyopia, or lazy eye. Lazy eye occurs when there’s a serious problem with your visual system, causing the eye and brain to stop working together as needed. Over time, the strong eye becomes stronger, while the other eye becomes blurry and weaker.
This makes it essential to visit an optometrist if you or your child begins having difficulty with clear vision or depth perception, as early treatment can help reduce the effects of both anisometropia and lazy eye.
How Is Anisometropia Treated?
Fortunately, this condition can be treated in earlier stages. However, anisometropia affects every person differently, making it important to seek the help of an eye care professional to determine an appropriate way to address this condition.
Typically, this condition is treated through either corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses, each designed to address the refractive error the particular eye is experiencing. However, in some situations, anisometropia isn’t caught until it’s started to cause symptoms of lazy eye.
In this situation, an optometrist may recommend one of the following:
- Filtered lenses to block vision in the stronger eye
- Eye drops designed to blur the stronger eye intentionally
- Using a patch of fabric to cover the stronger eye
By stopping the stronger eye from doing all the work, these forms of treatment force the brain to communicate with the weaker eye. This can help strengthen the visual system connecting the 2 and may counteract the effects of anisometropia.
However, it’s important to continue treatment as recommended—this condition is considered progressive and can lead to long-term vision problems if left untreated.
Where to Get Help for Vision Problems
If you or a loved one are experiencing any form of blurry vision or issues with depth perception, your first step should be to visit an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. This gives a trained, experienced professional a chance to determine if you’re experiencing a condition like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or anisometropia and allow them to recommend appropriate treatment.
Your vision is essential to your everyday life, and our team at Griffin Optometric Group is here to help you with your eyes and vision. To speak with one of our caring professionals today, schedule an appointment with us!