What Is Anisometropia and What Can You Do About It?
What is Anisometropia?
The definition of anisometropia, more commonly known as vision imbalance, is a condition where your eyes have varying refractive power - i.e. your ability to focus is different in each eye. When you have a different prescription for each eye, you have anisometropia.
Typically caused by unevenly sized or shaped eyes, anisometropia symptoms include asymmetric longsightedness or asymmetric shortsightedness. Anisometropia is genetic, but reasonably uncommon - only around 6% of young people have it (and even then, to varying degrees), however this percentage increases with age.
Types of Anisometropia
There are two types of anisometropia - regular and Antimetropic.
- Regular anisometropia is when there is the same type of refractive error in each eye, just a big difference in the numbers. This can cause the eyes to not work together and fuse the image into one, causing double vision.
- Antimetropic- this is where one eye is hyperopic and one eye is myopic.
‘How do I know if I have anisometropia?’ You may be asking at this point. Anisometropia has a number of (not severe, but noticeable) symptoms. These include:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Diplopia (double vision)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Difficulty with 3D vision, depth perception and loss of balance.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should ask your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. An eye exam will typically include various tests to check the health of your eye and distinguish any diseases or conditions. Even if you do not have any symptoms, an eye screening is recommended for adults at the age of 40 to identify vision change and any signs of various sight impairment.
What causes Anisometropia?
Most people with ‘normal vision’ can experience up to a 5% difference in the refractive power of each eye. However, those with a larger difference (5-20%) will experience uneven vision - anisometropia. Causes include defects in the eye at childbirth as well as uneven size of the two eyes.
Anisometropia after Cataract Surgery
If you’ve undergone cataract surgery, you’re likely to have experienced, or be experiencing, anisometropia. This is due to only one of your eyes’ lenses being corrected at one time. In this period between the first and second surgeries, your lenses will have different refractive power, possibly resulting in some of the symptoms listed above.
Anisometropia Treatment: Eyewear
If you’re asking ‘can anisometropia be corrected?’, you’ll be pleased to hear that it can - without complication. Different refractive powers in each eye can be corrected by simple prescription lenses. While you’d correct short-sightedness in both eyes using prescription lenses which are the same over each eye, anisometropia requires a different kind of lens over each eye.
When deciding which route to take when it comes to eyewear, consider the wide range of options available:
- Prescription glasses with bifocal or progressive addition lenses (PALs) are a common option for treating anisometropia symptoms.
- Bifocal lenses are glasses constructed with two points of focus. The centre and the main part of the spectacle lens contains a prescription for distance vision, while the bottom portion of the lens is made for enhancing near vision, for when you are reading a menu or doing some desk work.
- Progressive lenses are similar to bifocal lenses but they offer a gradual transition between the two prescription lenses, so there is no visible line on your eyeglasses.
- Reading glasses are another option for anisometropia symptoms. You can have these glasses fitted with your unique prescription so you can wear these glasses while you read or work. There are also non prescription reading glasses that you can typically try out and purchase in high-street shops.
Anisometropia Treatment: Contact Lenses
Additionally, there exists a range of contact lenses available to treat anisometropia symptoms. Multifocal contact lenses are available in both gas permeable and soft lens material, depending on your preference, while bifocal contact lenses offer the same visual correction as bifocal glasses.
Another possibility is monovision contact lenses where you use a distance vision lens for one eye and a different contact lens for close-up usage in the other. Obviously, the type you get depends on your type of anisometropia, and your prescription from an optician.
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