Ocular & Refractive Conditions

Amblyopia (lazy eye)

Amblyopia or “lazy eye” describes weak vision or vision loss in one eye that cannot be fully corrected with lenses.

It usually develops in children before age eight. This is also the key time to treat amblyopia, since results are better the earlier they are implemented. It becomes extremely difficult to treat amblyopia after age eight. Untreated, amblyopia can lead to total blindness in the affected eye.

Amblyopia is more than simply an eye health problem. It involves the “wiring” of the nerve impulses from the eyes to the brain. Treatment typically includes vision therapy, eyeglasses and contact lenses, or a patch. Surgery alone cannot treat amblyopia.


Astigmatism is an irregular curvature of the front surface of the eye that results in blurred vision at all distances.

It is a common refractive error, just like nearsightedness and farsightedness. It is usually a condition from birth that progresses over time. Eyeglasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery are all effective treatments for astigmatism.

Farsightedness (hyperopia)

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a common refractive error. Approximately 25 per cent of the general population may be affected. Farsighted individuals see better in the distance than up close because the eye does not effectively focus light. Farsightedness is very common among elementary school-age children and a frequent cause of reading and learning difficulties.

Refractive errors such as hyperopia are commonly corrected by eyeglasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgery is another possibility.

Nearsightedness (myopia)

Myopia, more popularly known as nearsightedness, is a common refractive error. Approximately a quarter of the general population may be affected. Myopic individuals see better up close than in the distance. This is because the eye improperly focuses too much light, causing blurred vision in the distance.

Refractive errors are commonly corrected by eyeglasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgery and Ortho-Keratology are two other possibilities.


Presbyopia is an inevitable condition in which the ability to focus on close objects decreases over time. Since it is a natural effect of aging, it is extremely commonplace.

In recent years, an estimated four million new cases of presbyopia have been diagnosed. Today’s “baby boomer” generation is the most rapidly growing population segment requiring vision correction.

Symptoms: Headaches, blurred near-distance vision, tearing, stinging, or a need for more light. People with presbyopia often hold reading material at arm’s length.

Treatment: Reading glasses (typically bifocals) or special contact lenses are useful treatments, although the period of adjustment can vary widely. All told, there is a wide range of corrective options to review with your Optometrist.

Prevention: There is no recognized prevention available, although focusing difficulties can be relieved with corrective lenses.

Further questions: For such a common condition, there are many misconceptions about presbyopia. For example, it does not affect a person’s lifestyle, but presbyopia can require frequent prescription changes after age 40.

Strabismus (crossed eyes)

Strabismus or "crossed eyes" is a misalignment of the eyes. One or both eyes may turn in (esotropia), out (exotropia), up (hypertropia) or down (hypotropia). Treatment may include the use of eyeglasses, contact lenses, prisms and/or vision therapy. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed.

All content is provided for education and information, and is no substitute for the advice of your optometrist. This information is provided courtesy of the British Columbia Association of Optometrists (B.C.A.O.). The B.C.A.O. assumes no responsibility or liability arising from any errors or omissions or from the use of any information contained herein.