A few of the more common eye conditions are listed below. If you think you are having an eye or visual problem, schedule an appointment today for an evaluation.
Dry Eye Sydrome: Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn't have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.
Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but your optometrist can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable and to prevent your vision from being affected. The primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes.
Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that lead to progressive damage to the nerve that connects the eye to the brain called the optic nerve. People with glaucoma can lose nerve tissue, resulting in vision loss. The optic nerve is a bundle of about 1 million individual nerve fibers that transmits the visual signals from the eye to the brain. In the most common form of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, the fluid pressure inside the eye increases. This increase in pressure may cause progressive damage to the optic nerve and loss of nerve fibers. Advanced glaucoma may even lead to blindness.
Not everyone with high eye pressure will develop glaucoma, and some people with normal eye pressure will develop glaucoma. When the pressure inside a person's eye is too high for a particular optic nerve, whatever that pressure measurement may be, glaucoma will develop.
Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the U.S. It most often occurs in people over age 40, although an infant (congenital) form of glaucoma exists. People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans over the age of 40 and Hispanics over the age of 60 have an increased risk of developing glaucoma. Other risk factors include thinner corneas, chronic eye inflammation and taking medications that increase the pressure in the eyes.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 50. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1.8 million people have AMD and another 7.3 million are at substantial risk for vision loss from AMD. Caucasians are at higher risk for developing AMD than other races. Women also develop AMD at an earlier age than men.
This eye disease occurs when there are changes to the macula, a small portion of the retina that is located on the inside back layer of the eye. AMD is a loss of central vision that can occur in two forms: "dry" (atrophic) and "wet" (exudative). Most people with macular degeneration have the dry form. While there is no specific treatment for dry AMD, studies have shown a potential benefit from vitamin supplements, a Mediterranean diet and cessation of smoking. The less common wet form may respond to intraocular injections of anti-VEGF medications if detected and treated early.
Diabetic retinopathy: A condition that may occur in people who have diabetes. It causes progressive damage to the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes. Diabetes interferes with the body's ability to use and store sugar (glucose). The disease is characterized by too much sugar in the blood, which can cause damage throughout the body, including the eyes.
Over time, diabetes damages small blood vessels throughout the body, including the retina. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when these tiny blood vessels leak blood and other fluids. This causes the retinal tissue to swell, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.
Conjunctivitis: An inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye.
Often called "pink eye," conjunctivitis is a common eye disease, especially in children. It may affect one or both eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis are highly contagious and can easily spread in schools and at home. While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious problem.
A viral or bacterial infection can cause conjunctivitis. It can also develop due to an allergic reaction to air irritants such as pollen and smoke, chlorine in swimming pools, ingredients in cosmetics, or other products that contact the eyes, such as contact lenses. Sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea are less common causes of conjunctivitis.
People with conjunctivitis may experience the following symptoms:
Presbyopia: A vision condition in which the shape of the crystalline lens of your eye changes. These changes make it difficult to focus on close objects. Presbyopia may seem to occur suddenly, but sight reduction occurs over several years. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in the early to mid-40s, but the reduction of your focusing starts as early as childhood. Presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process of the eye. It is not a disease, and it cannot be prevented.
Some signs of presbyopia include holding reading materials at arm's length, blurred vision at normal reading distance and eye fatigue along with headaches when doing close work. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing for presbyopia. To help you compensate for presbyopia, your eye doctor can prescribe reading glasses, multifocal glasses or contact lenses. Presbyopia can complicate other common vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Your doctor will determine the specific lenses to allow you to see clearly and comfortably. You may only need to wear your glasses for close work like reading, but you may find that wearing them all the time is more convenient and helpful.
The effects of presbyopia will continue over your lifetime. Therefore, you may need to periodically change your eyewear to maintain clear and comfortable vision.
Nearsightedness (myopia): A vision condition in which people can see close objects clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred. People with myopia can have difficulty clearly seeing a movie or TV screen, a whiteboard in school or while driving. Myopia occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is too curved. As a result, the light entering the eye isn't focused correctly, and distant objects look blurred.
Myopia affects nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population. While the exact cause of myopia is unknown, there is significant evidence that many people inherit myopia, or at least the tendency to develop myopia. If one or both parents are nearsighted, there is an increased chance their children will be nearsighted.
Farsightedness (hyperopia): A vision condition in which distant objects can be seen clearly, but close ones do not come into proper focus. Farsightedness is due to the eye not bending light properly so it focuses in front of the back of the eye or the cornea has too little curvature. In these cases, your eye can't correctly focus the light that enters.
Common signs of hyperopia include difficulty concentrating and maintaining a clear focus on near objects, eye strain, fatigue and/or headaches after close work, aching or burning eyes, and irritability or nervousness after sustained concentration. Common vision screenings, like the ones done in schools, often don't detect hyperopia. However, a comprehensive optometric examination will include the necessary testing to diagnose hyperopia. If needed, your optometrist can offer treatment options.
In mild cases of farsightedness, your eyes may be able to compensate without corrective lenses. In other cases, your optometrist can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses that alter the way the light enters your eyes, allowing you to clearly see close objects.
Astigmatism: A common vision condition that causes blurred vision. It occurs when the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is irregularly shaped or sometimes because of the curvature of the lens inside the eye.
An irregularly shaped cornea or lens prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, the light-sensitive surface at the back of the eye. As a result, vision becomes blurred at any distance. This can lead to eye discomfort and headaches.
Computer Vision Syndrome (Digital Eye Strain): A group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.
The most common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain are
These symptoms may be caused by: