Medical Definition of Anisometropia

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Anisometropia: The condition in which the two eyes have unequal refractive power. One eye may be myopic (nearsighted) and the other hyperopic (farsighted) or one eye may be markedly stronger than the other.

Anisometropia is a serious concern in newborns and young children because it can lead to amblyopia (impaired vision in one eye). With a major degree of anisometropia, the brain cannot reconcile the difference in images coming from the two eyes. It develops a preference for the image coming from one eye and suppresses the image from the other eye and, in time, the brain loses the ability to "see" the image from the suppressed eye.

Anisometropia is derived from Greek and made up of four parts: an-, -iso-, -metr-, and -opia. Their meaning (in parentheses) is simple. An- (not) + -iso- (equal) + -metr- (measure) + -opia (vision). Literally, the measure of vision is not equal. The refractive power of the two eyes is different. The opposite of anisotropia is isometropia. In isometropia, the refractive power is equal in both eyes.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/25/2017

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