Astigmatism is a single word meaning: a distortion of the front of the eye.  People with astigmatism have distorted vision.

Symptoms of astigmatism are related to trying to see clearly with distorted vision – so headaches, blurry vision, sore eyes, red eyes are all common symptoms.

Glasses, contact lenses and in some cases, surgery can all compensate for astigmatism.

Hyperopia is also known as “long-sightedness”. It occurs when the focus of the eye is too long for the length of the eye.

Basically it means that the eye has to “over-focus” or “strain” to see, particularly when looking at something up close.

It is normal for children to have a little hyperopia which will not affect their vision or school work. It is only when it affects their ability to concentrate that it becomes a problem.

Common symptoms of hyperopia are frontal headaches, “eye-strain” and intermittent blurry near vision. Sometimes the strain of seeing can cause the eyes to turn inwards. Initially, this occurs only briefly and then occurs more often if corrective lenses are not prescribed in young children.

Children with excessive hyperopia may find their concentration affected, especially when they are trying to read or use their tablet or phone.

Hyperopia can be treated with glasses, contact lenses and surgery in certain cases.

Myopia or “short-sightedness” occurs when due to a genetic disposition and activation of specific genes, caused by doing prolonged close work, the eyes become too long for their focus.

Myopia (which is now considered a disease) is a huge problem worldwide, especially in genetically susceptible populations (e.g. Asian and Inuit) as they become more westernised.

The main symptom of myopia is blurred distance vision.

It can be treated with compensatory glasses, contact lenses or surgery in certain cases.

Treatment can also involve the use of RGP contact lenses (orthokeratology) and extremely low dose atropine drops (0.01%) to slow the progression of the disease. Spending time outdoors every day has a significant effect on slowing myopic progression.

Presbyopia occurs in middle age (>40 years) when the ability to focus up close (say to read or use the phone or tablet) becomes difficult.

It is due to a loss of elasticity of the lens inside the eye as a result of aging.

Symptoms include blurred near vision, headaches, eye-strain, loss of concentration, and needing extra light to read. It usually doesn’t affect distance vision.

Reading glasses are usually all that’s needed to compensate for presbyopia. Despite many claims to the contrary, there is no scientific evidence that there are any cures for presbyopia.