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Refraction

Could your vision be improved?

Our optometrists can help you better understand your vision, and how to maximise your visual potential. This is done by determining your prescription and prescribing you an individually tailored visual solution for clearer eyesight, be it glasses, contact lenses or other visual aids. The process of determining your prescription is called refraction.

What happens during refraction?

Also known as a vision exam, refraction involves a series of lens choices through which you view a reading chart, comparing what you see. By adjusting the focus of the chart image on your retina, your prescription can be determined to provide you with optimum visual acuity. Sometimes an autorefractor may be used to provide an initial estimate of your prescription. Autorefraction can save time and is useful when examining young children or people who have trouble with eye examinations, but is not necessarily accurate enough to finalise a prescription.

There is an art to refraction - your optometrist will always discuss your answers and their findings with you, based on the results they can determine your amount of myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism, if any.

Sometimes when patients cannot respond verbally, or to determine more complex prescriptions, eye drops are used. These drops temporarily prevent the eyes from changing focus while refraction is performed. Drops are typically not required for refraction as your optometrist is interested in how your eyes respond under normal visual (seeing) conditions.

Myopia or short sightedness is a dominant hereditary trait, which benefitted the carvers of finely detailed cylinder seals in Ancient Mesopotamia, literally keeping the trade in the family.

What we look for

After your refraction exam, your optometrist will have determined your prescription for distance, intermediate (computer) and/or near and will prescribe glasses, contact lenses or other visual aids based on your specific needs. Refraction can also detect deterioration in your vision and tells your optometrist about the health of your eyes - an important aspect of your examination. Your optometrist may also perform tests to check your focussing and how well your eyes work together, which is important for performance of day-to-day tasks.

When to check your prescription

A person’s future prescription is not always predictable, so your optometrist can only advise on the likely progression of your prescription and how regularly you should undergo refraction. You can easily make an appointment to have your prescription checked if you feel your vision is changing, if you would like to look at a different form of correction, or if it has been some time since your last examination.

We recommend that you have an eye test at least every two years, or more frequently if recommended by your optometrist.