Glow of the Month: Refractive Error

What is Refractive Error?

According to the National Eye Institute, refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye does not bend light correctly, preventing light from focusing on the retina. This results in blurry vision in either adults or young children. Refractive error is the medical term for several common eye conditions.

Different Types of Refractive Errors

There are several types of refractive errors. The most common types are myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (losing sight with age) and astigmatism (caused when the cornea has an asymmetrical curve). Due to young age, the most common types of refractive error in young children are myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

What Are the Symptoms of Refractive Error?

Symptoms of refractive error can include blurry vision, difficulty seeing up close, squinting, and headaches. Children with refractive errors may also exhibit a “glow” in pictures.

What About The Glow?

Refractive errors are common among children and adults alike. Refractive errors can cause a white crescent in the red reflex of the eye, creating a white pupil reflex.   This white reflex is known as Leukocoria, or “The Glow.” This glow can be an indicator of 16 different eye diseases, which vary in severity from lazy eye to retinoblastoma.

While “The Glow” can cause worry in many parents, it is important to note that a glow in the eye may also be an indicator of a condition as treatable as nearsightedness. Early detection is important in all vision conditions, and if corrected promptly, refractive errors do not disrupt the development of vision. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 153 million people live with vision impairments due to uncorrected refractive errors.


Several treatment options exist to ease the symptoms of refractive error. These treatments can include contact lenses and prescription glasses. Depending on the severity of the condition, your physician may require surgery. Refractive surgery recovers the ability of the eye to focus by changing the shape of the cornea.

If your child has any of these symptoms or you notice changes in your child’s vision, call a doctor to schedule an eye exam.

Read about Delilah, who was diagnosed with refractive error at 4 years old.

Are you concerned that your child may be exhibiting “The Glow” and are looking for support from caring parents? Email to connect with our team of parents who are experienced in navigating glow-related disorders.

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