What is the Refractive Error?

The function of the eye is to see clearly the objects around us. The inability of the eye to accurately focus the rays of light coming from a distance on the retina is called refractive error. This condition may be either because the eye is too short or long in length, or because the cornea or lens does not have the required refractive power. There are three types of refractive errors:

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Myopia (near-sight):

this is the condition in which the eye is too long and the light is focused in front of the retina. Distant objects are blurred but the near objects are seen clearly. The eye has too much optical power and to correct it the optical power is reduced by either minus glasses or contact lenses, or by surgery.

Hypermetropia (long-sight):

this is the condition in which the eye is too short and the light is focused behind the retina. The eye has less optical power than is needed. When young the eye can use the lens within the eye to compensate, but reading glasses are needed at a relatively early age. Later, distance glasses (plus) are needed as well, such that glasses for distance and near are required.


this is the condition where the eye does not focus the light evenly, usually due to the cornea of the eye being more curved in one direction than the other. It may occur on its own or may be associated with myopia or hypermetropia.

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What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is the normal aging process, where the lens progressively loses its capacity to increase its power for near vision(loss of accommodation). The distance vision may be normal, but the near vision becomes blurred with age greater than about 45 years. This is corrected by wearing reading glasses (plus) for the near work. This condition may occur in itself or may be present alongwith pre-existing myopia, hypermetropia or astigmatism.

What are the ways of treating refractive errors? 

The refractive errors may be treated by either of the following ways:

  • Glasses:

    this is the simplest and most popular way of correcting refractive errors

  • Contact lens:

    this option is cosmetically much better though the maintenance and cleaning of contact lenses may be cumbersome. There is also a slight risk of infection to the cornea if the contact lenses are not cleaned properly before use.

  • Refractive surgeries:

    these are increasingly becoming popular with the advent of more predictable laser treatments.

There are several types of corrective surgical procedures for refractive errors, including,

Myopia (Short-sightedness)

Myopia is a refractive error that occurs when your eye is too long compared to the curvature (focusing power) of your cornea, or when the cornea is more curved, so light focuses short of the retina. This means you cannot see distant objects clearly, such as the numbers on the front of buses. Corneal refractive surgery can correct this by changing the shape of the cornea so that its focusing power is matched to the length of the eye. Laser eye surgery can correct short-sightedness.

Hyperopia (Long-sightedness)

A refractive error that occurs when your eye is too short compared to the curvature (focusing power) of your cornea, or when the cornea is less curved, so light focuses behind the retina. When younger, many hyperopic eyes can self-focus by utilising the ‘zoom’ intended for reading, to compensate for the distance blur. Laser eye surgery can correct long-sightedness.

Astigmatism in India

Astigmatism occurs when your cornea is more oval shaped (like a rugby ball) than a sphere. The result of this refractive error is that light is focused at two different planes inside your eye. Images appear blurred or ghost images can result. Approximately half of all people with myopia or hyperopia have astigmatism as well. Refractive surgery can correct astigmatism, whether it is accompanied with myopia, hyperopia or presents alone.

Presbyopia (aging eyes/reading glasses) in India

Everyone develops the refractive error known as presbyopia during their life. Most people, whether they have previously worn glasses or not, experience the symptoms of presbyopia in their forties. Effectively, the zoom system that allows your eyes to change focus from distance to near becomes weaker. Your ability to read small print (i.e. newspapers) diminishes and you require different lenses for focusing on close or distant objects. Traditionally, people have used reading glasses, bifocals or varifocals, to correct this, but refractive surgery offers a permanent solution to this eye condition.

The Three most common Refractive Errors are:

Refractive Errors Treatment Cost in India 

India is a country where we have surgeons who are specialized eye treatments and that too at very reasonable cost which ranges from USD 4,000 to USD 6,000 which is very less as compared to the cost of refractive treatment in the developed countries like USA where the surgeon will around USD 15,000 for one eye vision correction procedure with an excimer laser to reshape the cornea of the eye.

India is a country where the surgeons at the hospitals under We Care India will use the additional automated technology such as femtosecond laser to create the flap in your cornea to perform bladeless eye treatment which is also very comprehensive and you need not pay anything separately, however, if you go for the same advanced procedure in other developed countries where the surgeon will cost you extra dollars for these advanced procedures.

Will the insurance company cover the cost of refractive treatments in India?

Generally, the insurance companies in India will not cover the refractive treatments; however, in case of athletes and combat fighters sometimes the insurance companies provide the full coverage, for instance.

Apart from insurance, you can opt for other methods to pay for your refractive treatments such as you can pay for your treatment in monthly installments; you can use your credit cards, you can use your savings, etc. For using credit cards you need to check with your insurance provider whether they accept the credit cards or not for the refractive treatments.

Are FSAs and HSAs plans help in reducing the cost of the treatment?

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are the accounts through which you can pay for your refractive treatments in India and this type of plan will allow you to divert pre-tax income from your salary account into a flexible spending account for out-of-pocket health care expenses.

The second option is Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) through which you can pay for your refractive treatment which is tax-free money, but you can use Health Savings Accounts only when you are covered by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with your organization.

According to the research, you can add tax-free contributions to your Health Savings Accounts each pay period with an annual amount limit of USD 3,500 for individual coverage and for the family you can take coverage of USD 7,000. Health Savings Accounts is better than Flexible Spending Accounts as you can unspent money in your HSA at the end of the year and you can use it for the following year or sometime further in the future.

Reasonable and best hospital for Refractive Treatments

India is a country where there are many eye centers and hospitals in which treatments for the refractive eye are performed and it is difficult to answer the differences in the cost of the eye treatments. The cost of the treatment will vary from hospital to hospital but an average cost of refractive treatments in India ranges from USD 5,000 to USD 7,000 for both the eyes.

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