Astigmatism is a vision condition that occurs when the front surface of your eye, the cornea, is slightly irregular in shape. This irregular shape prevents light from focusing properly on the back of your eye, the retina. As a result, your vision may be blurred at all distances. People with severe astigmatism will usually have blurred or distorted vision, while those with mild astigmatism may experience headaches, eye strain, fatigue or blurred vision at certain distances. Most people have some degree of astigmatism. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing to diagnose astigmatism and determine the degree. Almost all levels of astigmatism can be optically corrected with properly prescribed and fitted eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. Corneal modification is also a treatment option for some patients.
Color deficiency occurs when your ability to distinguish certain colors and shades is less than normal. The term “color blind” is often used, but usually incorrectly. Only a very small number of people are completely unable to identify any colors. Color deficiency is usually inherited, but can also result from certain diseases, trauma or as a side effect of certain medications. It happens when the color sensitive cone cells in the retina of your eyes do not properly pick u or send correct color signals to the brain. There are two major types of color deficiency. Red-green deficiency is by far the most common and results in the inability to distinguish certain shades of red and green. Blue-yellow deficiency is less common and affects the perception of blue and yellow colors. In very rare cases, color deficiency exists to an extent that no colors can be detected. This person sees all things in shades of black, white and gray. Every child should be checked for color deficiency by at least age five. It is important to detect color deficiency early because color-coded learning materials are used extensively in the primary grades.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent layer covering the surface of the inner eyelid and a portion of the front of the eye. This condition appears in many forms and affects people of all ages. The three main types of conjunctivitis are infectious, allergic and chemical. The infectious form; commonly known as “pink eye” is caused by a contagious virus or bacteria. Your body’s allergies to pollen, cosmetics, animals or fabrics often bring on allergic conjunctivitis. And, irritants like air pollution, noxious fumes and chlorine in swimming pools may produce the chemical form. The common signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis are red eyes, inflamed inner eyelids, water eyes, blurred vision and a sandy or scratchy feeling in the eyes. With the infectious form, there may be a watery or pus-like discharge around the eyelids. To avoid giving infectious conjunctivitis to others, keep your hand away from your eyes; thoroughly wash your hands before and after applying eye medication; do not share towels, washcloths, cosmetics or eye drops with others and seek treatment promptly. Certain form of conjunctivitis can develop into a more serious condition that may harm your eye. Therefore, it’s important to have your condition diagnosed and properly treated quickly.
Diabetes can cause blindness, so people with diabetes need to give special attention to their eyes and vision. Nearly half of all people with diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic eye disease. The most common is diabetic retinopathy, caused by changes in the blood vessels in the retina, the nerve-rich lining at the back of the eye that is essential for seeing. But diabetes can also contribute to glaucoma and cataracts. Each year approximately 25,000 people lose their sight to diabetic eye disease, making diabetes a leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 25-74 years old, according to the American Diabetes Association, National Eye Institute and American Optometric Association. Diabetes-related eye diseases often have no symptoms but early signs can be detected during a dilated eye exam. People with diabetes should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. Early diagnosis and treatment can help in preventing blindness.
Dry Eye The tears your eyes normally produce are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Dry eye occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or produce tears which do not have the proper chemical composition. Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, exposure to environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking or from medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or antidepressants. Dry eye can also be symptomatic of general health problems or can result from chemical or thermal burn to the eye. The most common signs/symptoms include stinging, itchy, scratchy and uncomfortable eyes; and sometimes having a burning feeling or a feeling of something foreign within the eye. You may experience increased dry eye symptoms on awakening. Some people experience an overly wet eye. This is a natural reflex to comfort a dry eye. Dry eye cannot be cured, but your eye’s sensitivity can be lessened and measures taken so your eyes remain healthy. The most frequent treatment is the use of artificial or tear substitutes. For more sever dry eye, ointment can be used, especially at bedtime. In some cases, small plugs may be inserted in the eye’s tear drainage canals to slow outflow and loss of tears.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases, in which internal pressure in your eyes increases, causing damage to the nerve fibers that make up the optic nerve, the structure responsible for communicating visual information from the eye to the brain. This increased pressure occurs when passages that normally allow fluid in the eyes to drain become blocked or clogged causing damage that results in the progressive loss of peripheral vision, followed by limited central vision and potential blindness. One devastating aspect of the most common type of glaucoma is that it develops gradually and painlessly. There are few, if any symptoms, allowing the disease to go unnoticed in the early stages. Although everyone is at risk for glaucoma, some people may be at a higher risk for developing the disease. The elderly, or particularly those above the age of 60, are examples. Ethnicity is also a risk factor. Glaucoma is four times more common in African Americans than in white Americans. Like many other diseases, glaucoma tends to run in families. Finally, individuals with certain medical disorders, like diabetes or nearsightedness, are also at a higher risk for developing glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease that cannot be prevented or cured, and any sight it destroys cannot be restored. However, if diagnosed and treated in the early stages, it can be controlled. That is why an annual eye examination as the best way for you to detect and control glaucoma. If your optometrist detects glaucoma, the necessary precautions can be taken to inhibit the progression of the disease. This may include prescription eye drops, medications, laser treatment or surgery to lower the pressure in the eyes. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, studies have shown that the best way to control the disease and protect vision is through early detection and treatment.
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, occurs when light entering the eye is focused behind the retina either because the eyeball is too short or the cornea has too little curvature. The retina functions similar to film in a camera. If light is not perfectly focused on the retina, vision will be blurred. Distant objects are generally clear but close ones do not come into proper focus. The symptoms of farsightedness are clearer far vision than near, blurred near vision, frontal headaches, eyestrain with near work, symptoms may be part-time, aching or burning eyes, and irritability or nervousness after sustained concentration. Eyeglasses or contact lenses can be prescribed to optically correct farsightedness and enable you to see more clearly.
Degeneration is an eye disease that occurs when there are changes to the macula. The Macula is a small portion of the retina that is located on the inside back layer of the eye. It reduces central vision and makes seeing details for close work, like reading or sewing, difficult or impossible. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among people over age 50. There are two types of age-related macular degeneration. In the dry or atrophic type, the tissue of the macular becomes thin and stops functioning properly. This is thought to occur as part of the aging process and vision loss is usually gradual. Wet or exudative macular degeneration is less common and results when fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula and blur central vision. Vision loss from the wet form can be rapid and severe. Some signs/symptoms of macular degeneration are a gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly, objects appear to be distorted in shape and straight lines appear wavy or crooked, a loss of clear color vision, and a dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision.
Myopia, or Nearsightedness, is a vision condition in which near objects are generally seen clearly, but distant objects are blurred and do not come into proper focus. When your eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, light entering the eye is not focused properly. Hereditary factors often control the growth and development of the eye. However, some evidence supports the theory that nearsightedness may also be caused by the stress of too much close vision work. Eyeglasses or contact lenses can be prescribed to optically correct nearsightedness and enable you to see more clearly. They alter the way the light images are focused in your eyes, but they do not cure nearsightedness. You may only need them for certain activities, like watching television, going to a movie or driving a car.
Presbyopia is a vision condition in which the crystalline lens of your eye loses its flexibility. This results in progressive difficulty in focusing on close objects. Your eye stops growing in your early teens. The lens, however, continues to grow and produce more and more cells. This continued growth eventually causes the lens to harden and lost some of its elasticity and therefore some focusing ability. Some signs/symptoms of presbyopia include the tendency to hold reading material at arm’s length, blurred vision at normal reading distance and eye fatigue along with headaches when attempting to do close work. Unfortunately, Presbyopia cannot be prevented. It is a natural part of the aging process. To compensate for presbyopia, doctors of optometry prescribe reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, progressive addition lenses or contact lenses. Since presbyopia can complicate other common vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, your optometrist will perform other tests to determine the specific lenses that will allow you to see clearly and comfortable for your daily visual needs.
Strabismus, more commonly known as crossed-eyes, is a vision condition in which your eyes are not properly aligned with each other. For a variety of reasons, one or both of your eyes alternately turn in, out, up or down when looking at objects in the distance, up close or both. Coordination of your eyes and their ability to work together as a team develops in early childhood. Failure of your eyes (or more precisely, your eye muscles) to coordinate together properly can lead to crossed-eyes. Excessive eye focusing effort in children who are farsighted can also result in crossed-eyes. Crossed-eyes also have a tendency to be hereditary. Children under six are the ones most affected by crossed-eyes, but it often first appears between birth and age 21 months. It is estimated that up to 6 percent of the population have some type or degree of strabismus. A child will not outgrow crossed-eyes. In fact, the condition may get worse without treatment. Children with crossed-eyes may initially have double vision. This occurs because both eyes are not focusing on the same object. In an attempt to avoid double vision, the brain will eventually disregard the image from one-eye. In time, the ignored eye will become largely unused. This may result in the development of lazy eye (amblyopia). Parents may be the first to notice a slight wandering of one or both of the child’s eyes. A comprehensive vision examination by a doctor of optometry is recommended if that happens. Treatment for crossed-eyes can include eyeglasses (regular or bifocal), prisms, vision therapy, and in some cases, surgery. Crossed-eyes can often be corrected with excellent results if detected and treated early.