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Millions of patients are diagnosed with diseases and conditions of the eye every year. Some of which may not display symptoms until there is irreversible damage to the patient’s vision. The outcome of eye disease can range from temporary discomfort to total loss of vision, which is why all eye problems and diseases should be taken seriously and regular eye check-ups are absolutely essential.
The main causes of eye problems can be divided into five groups:
Inflammation of the eye and surrounding structures caused by a bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal infection.
Injuries to the eye and surrounding structures, either as a result of trauma or an object in the eye.
Genetically inherited eye diseases, many of which may only manifest later in life and affect the structures and the functioning of the eye which therefore can impair visual abilities. In some cases, however, children are born with these conditions.
Diseases or conditions, such as migraine or diabetes, which can affect other organs of the body, such as the eyes.
External causes, such as allergies or eye strain due to over-use, or as a side effect of medication.
The three symptoms indicative of eye disease are changes in vision, changes in the
appearance of the eye, or an abnormal sensation or pain in the eye.
Changes in vision can include the following symptoms :
Nearsightedness is caused by an elongation of the eyeball over time, making it difficult to clearly see objects far away.
Farsightedness is caused by the shortening of the eyeball, making it difficult to see objects that are close-by clearly.
Blurry or hazy vision, or loss of specific areas of vision, which can affect one or both eyes and is the most common vision symptom. Any sudden changes in vision should be a cause of concern.
Double vision means a single clear image appears to repeat itself. This could be accompanied by other symptoms like headaches, nausea, a droopy eyelid, and misalignment of the eyes.
Floaters are specks or strands that seem to float across the field of vision. These are shadows cast by cells inside the clear fluid that fills the eye. These are usually harmless,
but should be checked out as they could point to something serious such as retinal
Loss of vision after being able to see before.
Night blindness is the inability to see clearly in the dark or adapting to the dark, especially after coming out of a brightly lit environment.
Impaired depth perception means a person has difficulty distinguishing which of two objects is closer to him/her.
Changes in the appearance of the eye include, but are not restricted to, the following:
Redness or swelling of the eyes, which have a bloodshot appearance.
Watery and itchy eyes, depending on the cause, discharge from the eyes is also possible.
Redness and swelling of the eyelid.
Cloudy appearance of the eye, which occurs due to a build-up of proteins making the lens of the eye appear cloudy. These can be symptomatic of cataracts.
Eyelid twitch. This happens when eyelid muscles spasm involuntarily over a period of time.
Bulging eyes could be a symptom of hyperthyroidism or an autoimmune disorder called Grave’s disease.
Drooping eyelids can be a sign of exhaustion, aging, migraines or a more serious medical problem.
Pain within the eye is called ocular pain, while pain on the surface of the eye is called orbital pain.
Ocular pain can be caused by a scratch or a slight injury to the cornea of the eye or the presence of a foreign object in the eye and often causes redness of the eye. Orbital pain can be sharp or throbbing and may go beyond the surface. This should be a cause for concern if it’s accompanied by vision loss, vomiting, fever, muscle aches, eye-bulging and difficulty in moving the eye in certain directions. Trauma to the eye or the surrounding facial areas can also be the cause of pain.
The treatment of eye diseases are divided into four main categories:
Prescription glasses or contact lenses
Treatment of systemic conditions affecting the eye
In the case of experiencing any discomfort, pain, changes in vision or appearance of the eye, this should prompt an urgent visit to the ophthalmologist.
People will often experience some type of eye disorder during the course of their lives. While the majority of these are minor and don’t require treatment, even minor problems can have significant adverse impacts on your vision, and you should seek the guidance of a licensed medical professional.
We’ve compiled some of the most common eye disorders, their causes, and treatments below. This guide is meant to be educational and not all of the disorders listed below require medical attention, but if you are concerned, you should contact your medical provider immediately.
Eyestrain is a prevalent eye disorder. Most people have experienced this at one time or another. This optical issue can be caused by placing excessive strain on the eyes. It often occurs when reading, viewing a screen or driving for too long. The eyes may begin to feel tired, or a mild burning sensation can occur. Simple rest is often enough to correct this issue. However, if you continue to feel discomfort for a few days, its time to visit your doctor.
Eye redness can often be a minor issue that is caused by the inflammation or irritation of blood vessels near the eye’s surface. This can be caused by an irritant, lack of sleep, or allergies. If the redness in your eyes is linked to some type of traumatic injury, you should see a doctor. Typical treatments for this condition are eye drops to help lubricate the eye, resting your eyes, or taking medication to treat your allergies. Eye redness can also be a warning sign for conjunctivitis, pink eye, or sun damage. These conditions should receive medical treatment from a licensed professional.
Some people find that they have difficulty navigating in darker areas like movie theaters, dark rooms, or driving at night. Several possibilities could lead to night blindness. Some may have been born with this condition, or it could be the result of a degenerative retina. These issues cannot be resolved by a medical professional. However, night blindness can also be caused by nearsightedness, vitamin A deficiency, cataracts, or keratoconus. All of these issues can be corrected by a doctor.
Crossed eyes are not a condition that you can fix by yourself. This issue is seen in the eyes not properly lining up with each other. However, an ophthalmologist may be able to help correct this issue, so it’s worth scheduling an appointment.
Nystagmus is the constant shaking of the eyes of which the patient has no ability to control it. Medical professionals have several options for treatment at their disposal. Sometimes vision therapy is enough to strengthen the muscles and correct the issue. If this doesn’t work, surgery can also correct the problem. Your doctor can discuss your best options with you.
Red and green color blindness is the most common form of colorblindness, although other types may affect your ability to see different color combinations. Color blindness is caused because the eyes lack the appropriate “cones” that help to interpret and differentiate these colors. This makes certain colors appear identical to colorblind individuals. Very severe forms of colorblindness only allow individuals to see shades of gray, but this is very rare.
While there is no current treatment for the correction of color blindness, special contact lenses or eyeglasses can be prescribed to help.
This condition is the inflammation of the uvea. There are several potential causes of uveitis that can be very serious, but uveitis is an umbrella phrase that covers all causes that create inflammation of the middle layer of the eye.
Some of these causes can be compromises of the immune system, like AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, or ulcerative colitis. If you have light sensitivity, blurred vision, eye pain, and eye redness that lasts more than a few days you should see your eye care professional.
Your eyes are a sensitive and critical organ for your health and small injuries or damage to your eyes can have lasting effects. For this reason, if you sense that something is wrong with your eyes, it’s always a good idea to visit your eye care professional. Additionally, make sure to get your regular annual eye exams which can help detect any issues that your eyes may be having and assure that you get the appropriate care more quickly.