Eye Diseases, Conditions & Problems
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Common Vision Problems
Just as you may receive regular health examinations from a physician, routine eye exams will help diagnose potential early vision problems before they become harder or more complicated to treat. You may need to schedule a visit with your eye doctor if you notice any of the following vision problems:
If you experience the following eye changes, you should schedule an appointment with your optometrist as soon as possible:
• Any sudden, recurrent or severe eye pain
• Hazy or blurred vision
• Bright floating spots, sudden flashes of light, spots or floaters in the eye
• Halos or rainbows around lights
• A sudden oversensitivity to light or glare
• Swollen, red eyes
• Changes in the color of your iris or your pupil
• Itching, burning, or a thick discharge in the eyes
AMBLYOPIA (lazy eye)
Amblyopia occurs early in a child’s life when an unusual visual experience changes the nerve pathways between the retina and the brain. This experience results in a “lazy eye” that eye that wanders inward or outward. Though treatments typically yield the best results before age seven, your doctor may suggest options through early adulthood. These include corrective eyewear, temporary patches or filters to stimulate the weaker eye, eye drops and surgical repair of severely damaged eye muscles.
Astigmatism is a defect in the eye typically resulting from a variation from the standard curvature of the eye’s lens. This deviation will usually prevent light rays from meeting at a common focus, which can cause distorted images. Like nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism is a problem with how the eye focuses light.
Symptoms of astigmatism may be a blurred or distorted vision, as well as migraines after continued focus. Your eye doctor can diagnose astigmatism during routine eye exams. Treatments include corrective eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
Hyperopia, typically referred to as farsightedness, can result when the eye is shorter than normal, the cornea is not fully curved, or the lens is positioned farther back in the eye than it should be. These deviations can cause a problem in the eye’s ability to focus light properly. Normally, those with Hyperopia suffer blurred vision up close, but can also experience eye discomfort and migraine symptoms from long term concentrated focus on near objects.
Farsightedness is diagnosed at standard eye exams where your eye doctor will recommend corrective options, such as eyeglasses, contact lenses or laser treatment.
Opposite to hyperopia, myopia (Nearsightedness) occurs when the eyeball is too long about the focusing power of your eye’s cornea and lens. Light rays then are not focused directly on its surface as they should be, but rather they are concentrated in the front of the retina.
Nearsightedness symptoms can include blurry vision when focusing on distant objects, headaches caused by eyestrain, difficulty seeing at night and while driving. Depending on how severe the diagnosis at your routine eye exam, your eye doctor may suggest corrective glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
Unlike astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness, all of which are related to the shape of the eyeball, presbyopia can result from a gradual rigidity and thickening of the lens inside the eye. Presbyopia is typically experienced as blurred close-range vision. Symptoms may include general fatigue, eyestrain or headaches after close-up focusing. Many with presbyopia have difficulty reading the small print.
Should you be diagnosed with presbyopia, your eye doctor will commonly recommend eyeglasses or contact lenses with bifocal or progressive lenses as corrective options.
STRABISMUS (crossed eyes)
Strabismus is an eye condition that occurs when one eye is misaligned about the direction of the other. This condition can occur inward (esotropia, "crossed eyed), upward (hypertropia) or downward (hypotropia). Strabismus can be caused early in life as a result of problems between nerves that transmit information to eye muscles, and areas of the brain that directs eye movement.
Eye doctors may recommend several corrective options to improve eye alignment and coordination after they have diagnosed a patient with strabismus. These options include prism lenses to reduce the eye turning to view objects, Vision therapy exercises/programs to coordinate the eye and brain better, and eye muscle surgery can alter length and position of the eye to appear straight.
Common Eye Health Problems
But as we age, proteins in the lenses of our eyes may clump up together and start clouding a small area of the lens. This condition is called cataracts, one of the most common eye health problems.
At first, those afflicted with early symptoms of cataracts may experience slightly blurred vision, not dissimilar to looking through a cloudy window or eyeglasses.
Fortunately, new corrective glasses, bifocals, proper lighting or other visual aids can effectively correct such early symptoms when they begin to appear. For advanced cases, cataract surgery will remove your clouded lens and replace it with a plastic intraocular lens. Cataract surgery is so successful for restoring vision to near 20/20 vision that more than 3 million people have cataract surgery each year.
DIABETES AND THE EYES
Diabetes can cause numerous eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataracts, and glaucoma. As a common cause of vision loss and impairment in those with diabetes, retinopathy affects blood vessels in retina tissue that lines the back of the eye. DME is a consequence of diabetic retinopathy that causes swelling in the macula, a particular area of the retina.
Diabetes can cause bleeding from abnormal retinal blood vessels, which may cause the appearance of “floating” spots. The conditions can become permanent without treatment. Fortunately, early action to receive treatment can help reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent. Treatment can include Anti-VEGF injection therapy or laser surgery techniques to minimize abnormal blood vessel growth that diabetes can cause.
Dry eyes typically occur when your eyes do not produce tears properly, or when your tears evaporate too quickly due to factors that affect their consistency. Causes of dry eyes can range greatly; from medications like antihistamines to insufficient vitamins required by the eyes to produce tears.
Because there are many potential causes of dry eye, your eye doctor will need to conduct an exam to relieve the symptoms. Typically, the first line of therapy is to avoid dry conditions and giving your eyes rest after activities requiring you to focus for extended periods of time. The use of over-the-counter artificial tears or gels is also an effective initial therapy option.
Glaucoma is a common eye health problem, which typically causes fluid pressure buildup in the eye that may damage the eye's optic nerve and causes long-term vision loss over time if not treated. Most people living with glaucoma have no early symptoms until they begin to lose peripheral vision, but your eye doctor will routinely check for glaucoma with each eye exam you get. Thus, it is important that those over age 40 maintain a yearly schedule of eye doctor appointments. If you are experiencing halos around lights, eye pain or tunnel vision, it is important to see your eye doctor. Glaucoma can be treated with several approaches depending on the severity of the condition, from prescription eye drops and laser surgery to microsurgery.
Macular degeneration (MD) is a common eye health problem for those after the age of 60, which is characterized by a weakening of tissue at the center of your retina. There are two types of AMD: dry MD and wet MD. Both forms of MD can range in causes from smoking and cardiovascular health issues to obesity and lack of exercise.Early symptoms may include a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your central vision, or that straight lines appear distorted.
While no approved treatment is available to reverse the condition yet, a range of treatment options for macular degeneration is available that can help maintain your vision, which includes laser surgery, drug therapies, as well as implantable devices that magnify images onto the retina.
A detached retina is a medical emergency that occurs when a small part of the retina peels away from support tissue beneath it at the back of the eye. If you are experiencing what may appear as a ring of hairs or floaters, eye shadows or brief flashes of light in your peripheral vision, you should seek medical assistance to diagnose the problem. Patients initially diagnosed with retinal detachment by their eye doctor will typically be referred to an ophthalmologist, who specializes in treatment for the condition. Treatments range from laser surgery and other surgery options which aim to eliminate damaged or diseased tissue that may be the cause of the issue.
SPOTS AND FLOATERS
Eyespots and floaters are a common vision problem typically caused by specks of protein fibers that make up the back of the eye shrink clumping together, which can cast shadows on the retina when light enters the eye. Those over 50 years of age that are experiencing spotty vision, flashes of light or loss of side vision, may want to consult a doctor.
While benign, mild cases may never require treatment, more advanced cases can be treated with a type of surgery, called a vitrectomy. This is typically performed by replacing the affected area, called the vitreous, with a salt solution.