Refractive Disorders

Refractive disorders, also known as refractive errors, occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina. This typically results in blurred vision, the most common symptom of a refractive disorder.1

The most common types of refractive disorders include: myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, in which the eye doesn’t focus light evenly on the retina, and presbyopia, an age-related condition in which the eye's lens can no longer change shape enough to allow the eye to focus clearly up close.1

In general, refractive disorders can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery that aims to change the shape of the cornea, allowing light rays to focus precisely on the retina for improved vision.2


In many parts of the world, the prevalence of myopia and high myopia has increased dramatically and is continuing to rise. The most dramatic prevalence has been noted in younger people in East Asia, where the condition is already twice as common as in white people of similar ages in other countries. Recent projections indicate that by 2050, 50% of the world will have myopia (a 2-fold increase since 2000) and 10% will have high myopia (a 5-fold increase since 2000).2 It’s also estimated that the condition will continue to affect more children and young adults and could become a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide, as high myopia can lead to vision loss due to myopic macular degeneration and its comorbidities including cataract, retinal detachment, and glaucoma.2

This increased prevalence has been widely attributed to lifestyle changes over the past two decades, including decreased time spent outdoors, an increase in close-work activities and excessive use of near electronic devices, high-pressure educational systems particularly among youngsters in Asian countries, and diet. Genetic predisposition may also play some role.2

While conventional eyeglasses and contact lenses can help to correct blurry vision, there is little evidence that they effectively slow the progression of the disorder.3 Interventions that could slow the progression have the potential to prevent people from developing high myopia and its associated risks if started early enough.2

Santen is currently collaborating with research partners to understand more about juvenile myopia and to investigate pharmaceutical treatments, such as atropine, to slow myopic progression in affected children.


  1. National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute. Facts about refractive errors. Available at: Accessed on January 28, 2019.
  2. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, et al. Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050. Amer Acad Ophthalmol J 2016;123:1036-1042.
  3. Walline JJ, Lindsley K, Vedula SS, et al. Interventions to slow progression of myopia in children. Cochrane Database Sys Rev 2011. Available at: Accessed on January 28, 2019.


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