Pediatric Refractive Errors

All common types of pediatric refractive error – nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism – can be corrected with glasses.

Pediatric refractive error is the term used to describe a child’s eye that is optically out of focus. There are three common types of refractive errors:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia): This is a vision condition in which only close objects are clear. Objects seen in the distance are blurred.
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia): This is a vision condition in which the image is not properly focused on the retina.
  • Astigmatism: This is a vision condition in which the front surface of the cornea is slightly irregular in shape, resulting in blurred vision at all distances.


Children with a small amount of hyperopia often can see clearly at all distances without glasses. An internal focusing process called accommodation is naturally used to focus images. If a child has a large amount of hyperopia, however, or if one eye is significantly more hyperopic (farsighted) than the other, the child will not be able to focus properly and significant problems such as esotropia (crossed-eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye) can develop without treatment.

Measuring pediatric refractive errors through retinoscopy

The pediatric ophthalmologist can measure pediatric refractive errors during the eye exam by a technique called retinoscopy:

  • The retinoscopy technique does not depend on verbal responses from the child and can be performed in infants.
  • Eyedrops are placed in the eyes prior to the measurement.
  • The eyedrops dilate the pupils and relax accommodation or focus.
  • This allows for a more accurate measurement for glasses.

Treatment of pediatric refractive errors

Glasses are used to correct pediatric refractive errors in children and provide them with clear sharp vision at both distance and near. All significant refractive errors can be corrected with glasses.

At Henry Ford, patients come first.

The Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology is committed to providing our patients with compassionate, personalized care. We feature the most advanced treatments in eye care and are dedicated to vision research – always staying at the forefront of innovation. A leader in Michigan, as well as one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the United States, we treat more than 55,000 patients per year at 12 locations throughout southeast Michigan. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it.

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