Anisometropia is the condition in which the two eyes have unequal refractive power. Each eye can be nearsighted (myopia), farsighted (hyperopia) or a combination of both, which is called antimetropia. Generally a difference in power of two diopters or more is the accepted threshold to label the condition anisometropia.

Other namespronounce = /ænˌsəmɪˈtrpiə/ ann-EYE-sə-mi-TROH-pee-ə
SpecialtyOphthalmology, optometry 

In certain types of anisometropia, the visual cortex of the brain will not use both eyes together (binocular vision), and will instead suppress the central vision of one of the eyes. If this occurs often enough during the first 10 years of life while the visual cortex is developing, it can result in amblyopia, a condition where even when correcting the refractive error properly, the person's vision in the affected eye is still not correctable to 20/20.

The name is from four Greek components: an- "not," iso- "same," metr- "measure," ops "eye."

An estimated 6% of subjects aged 6 to 18 have anisometropia.



Spectacle correction

For those with large degrees of anisometropia, spectacle correction may cause the person to experience a difference in image magnification between the two eyes (aniseikonia) which could also prevent the development of good binocular vision. This can make it very difficult to wear glasses without symptoms such as headaches and eyestrain. However, the earlier the condition is treated, the easier it is to adjust to glasses.

It is possible for spectacle lenses to be made which can adjust the image sizes presented to the eye to be approximately equal. These are called iseikonic lenses. In practice though, this is rarely ever done.

The formula for iseikonic lenses (without cylinder) is:

where: t = center thickness (in meters) n = refractive index P = front base curve h = vertex distance (in meters) F = back vertex power (essentially, the prescription for the lens)

If the difference between the eyes is up to 3 diopters, iseikonic lenses can compensate. At a difference of 3 diopters the lenses would however be very visibly different - one lens would need to be at least 3mm thicker and have a base curve increased by 7.5 spheres.

Contact lenses

The usual recommendation for those needing iseikonic correction is to wear contact lenses. The effect of vertex distance is removed and the effect of center thickness is also almost removed, meaning there is minimal and likely unnoticeable image size difference. This is a good solution for those who can tolerate contact lenses.

Refractive surgery

Refractive surgery causes only minimal size differences, similar to contact lenses. In a study performed on 53 children who had amblyopia due to anisometropia, surgical correction of the anisometropia followed by strabismus surgery if required led to improved visual acuity and even to stereopsis in many of the children[1] (see: Refractive surgery#Children).


A determination of the prevalence of anisometropia has several difficulties. First of all, the measurement of refractive error may vary from one measurement to the next. Secondly, different criteria have been employed to define anisometropia, and the boundary between anisometropia and isometropia depend on their definition.[2]

Several studies have found that anisometropia occurs more frequently and tends to be more severe for persons with high ametropia, and that this is particularly true for myopes. Anisometropia follows a U-shape distribution according to age: it is frequent in infants aged only a few weeks, is more rare in young children, comparatively more frequent in teenagers and young adults, and more prevalent after presbyopia sets in, progressively increasing into old age.[2]

One study estimated that 6% of those between the ages of 6 and 18 have anisometropia.[3]

Notwithstanding research performed on the biomechanical, structural and optical characteristics of anisometropic eyes, the underlying reasons for anisometropia are still poorly understood.[4]

Anisometropic persons who have strabismus are mostly far-sighted, and almost all of these have (or have had) esotropia.[5] However, there are indications that anisometropia influences the long-term outcome of a surgical correction of an inward squint, and vice versa. More specifically, for patients with esotropia who undergo strabismus surgery, anisometropia may be one of the risk factors for developing consecutive exotropia[6] and poor binocular function may be a risk factor for anisometropia to develop or increase.[7]


  1. William F. Astle; Jamalia Rahmat; April D. Ingram; Peter T. Huang (December 2007). "Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy for anisometropic amblyopia in children: Outcomes at 1 year". Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery. 33 (12): 2028–2034. doi:10.1016/j.jcrs.2007.07.024. PMID 18053899.
  2. Barrett BT, Bradley A, Candy TR (September 2013). "The relationship between anisometropia and amblyopia". Progress in Retinal and Eye Research. 36: 120–58. doi:10.1016/j.preteyeres.2013.05.001. PMC 3773531. PMID 23773832.
  3. Czepita D, Goslawski W, Mojsa A. "Occurrence of anisometropia among students ranging from 6 to 18 years of age." Klin Oczna. 2005;107(4-6):297-9. Polish. PMID 16118943.
  4. Vincent SJ, Collins MJ, Read SA, Carney LG (2014). "Myopic anisometropia: ocular characteristics and aetiological considerations" (PDF). Clinical & Experimental Optometry (Review). 97 (4): 291–307. doi:10.1111/cxo.12171. PMID 24939167.
  5. "When strabismus is present in an anisometropic individual, it is almost always of the convergent type and is generally found in anisohyperopes but not anisomyopes." Barrett BT, Bradley A, Candy TR (September 2013). "The relationship between anisometropia and amblyopia". Progress in Retinal and Eye Research. 36: 120–58. doi:10.1016/j.preteyeres.2013.05.001. PMC 3773531. PMID 23773832.
  6. Yurdakul NS, Ugurlu S (2013). "Analysis of risk factors for consecutive exotropia and review of the literature". Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 50 (5): 268–73. doi:10.3928/01913913-20130430-01. PMID 23641958.
  7. Fujikado T, Morimoto T, Shimojyo H (November 2010). "Development of anisometropia in patients after surgery for esotropia". Japanese Journal of Ophthalmology. 54 (6): 589–93. doi:10.1007/s10384-010-0868-z. PMID 21191721.
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