It’s virtually impossible to make it through life without experiencing one of these 10 most common conditions. Fortunately, accurate information and regular annual or bi-annual visits to your optometrist are the keys to assessing vision loss or potential eye disease to move forward with the best and most effective treatment.
10 Eye Conditions And Treatment Optometrists Diagnose Daily
Learning more about the eye problems we see in our office daily helps patients make better decisions about their lifestyles and eye care.
Refractive errors (nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatism)
Patients are most likely to call us when they notice blurry vision. In most cases, blurred vision is due to a circumstance called “refractive error,” which refers to the shape of the eye or lens and affects how light focuses at the back of the retina. Refractive errors are the most common eye problems, affecting more than 150 million Americans.
TREATMENT: The positive news is that they are easy to correct using eyeglasses or contact lenses. LASIK or PRK surgeries are also options for qualifying patients.
You can learn more about refractive errors in Nearsighted vs Farsighted: What’s the Difference and …Could Be Astigmatism.
While some people develop cataracts earlier in life due to genetics or as the result of certain health conditions, cataracts are most often the result of age. They occur when the lens develops a cloudy film, and they worsen over time. Cataracts are most common in adults 50 years old or older, although research shows as many as 3% to 5% of adults 40 years old have the beginnings of cataracts. They are most prevalent in the white population and are more common in females than males.
TREATMENT: Cataract surgery is a very successful treatment option. Again, patients in good health are the most likely candidates to benefit from cataract surgery with minimal post-op complications.
Dry eyes are exactly what they sound like; They’re the body’s natural tear/lubrication process is reduced, which leads to the sensation of dry, itchy, irritated, and red eyes. What used to be an occasional dry eye diagnosis is becoming a more routine situation now that children and adults spend extended periods of time looking at screens. So make sure to take lots of visual screen breaks and make an effort to blink more often when you’re working on a screen, to minimize the risk of dry eye.
TREATMENT: Depending on the severity of your dry eye, your optometrist may recommend a range of treatments, ranging from healthy screen use practices, blinking exercises, extra hydration, and specific eye drops.
Glaucoma is another, mostly age-related, eye condition that leads to vision loss. It is caused by elevated pressure in the inner eye that compromises the optic nerve. Unlike other eye conditions that have almost immediate symptoms (vision loss, eye irritation, etc.), glaucoma can progress without any symptoms of all. It’s one of the reasons regular eye checkups are so important, especially after turning 40 or if you have a family history of glaucoma.
TREATMENT: Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be managed and controlled once it’s identified.
Like dry eye, diabetic retinopathy cases are increasing with the rising numbers of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects whole-body systems, including vision. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, which causes damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive retina, patients with diabetes are also at higher risk for cataracts, blurred vision, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.
TREATMENT: Like glaucoma, diabetes-related vision loss is best managed as is to prevent further development, but can rarely be treated (unless cataract or LASIK surgery support vision correction). Healthy lifestyle changes, including eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and maintaining balanced blood sugar levels go a long way towards preventing or reducing its progression.
Eye infections, both bacterial and viral, are very common and highly contagious. We refer to most general eye infections as conjunctivitis, which is largely evidenced via red, watery, itchy or irritated eyes that are goopy.
TREATMENT: Schools and workplaces are likely to send you home if you look like you have an eye infection. So, while most infections clear up on their own over a handful of days or a couple of weeks, your eye doctor can prescribe specialized prescription drops that clear them up within 24 hours.
Macular degeneration is the most common cause of complete vision loss (legal blindness) for adults 50 years and older in the United States. While certain medical conditions cause early macular degeneration, the disease is usually caused by an age-related breakdown in the center of the retina (the macula). As it progresses, patients lose more and more of their central vision.
TREATMENT: Eating a well-rounded diet with lots of greens is one of the best things you can do to prevent the onset of macular degeneration. Your doctor may also recommend taking certain supplements such as vitamins c and e, zinc, copper, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Treatment depends on whether you have dry or wet macular degeneration. Dry is the most common and unable to be treated, although it can be managed to a certain degree. Although vision loss will continue, wet macular degeneration can be treated using certain medications.
Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
Amblyopia is the most common cause of vision impairment in children. More commonly referred to as “lazy eye,” amblyopia is caused by weaker eye muscles in one eye or a communication breakdown between the brain and one/both eyes. Without early treatment, the brain eventually cuts off the feed from “the lazy eye” so that the muscles never strengthen, leading that eye to wander or remain fixed in a set position.
TREATMENT: Early treatment is essential, especially if you want to avoid surgical intervention. Most children’s lazy eyes can be treated using a patch on the stronger eye, forcing the weaker eye to get in shape, along with specialist eye physical therapy exercises.
Floaters and spots eye conditions and treatment
The older you are, the more likely you are to begin seeing floaters, spots, or flashes go across your field of vision. This is nothing to worry about in most cases, but you should always mention them to the optometrist so we cover all the bases. They’re most commonly caused by cloudy or semi-transparent vitreous particles (eye fluid) moving around in your eye, but can also be seen as small particulate matter moving across the eye’s surface as it’s being flushed out.
TREATMENT: Depending on the severity and frequency of floaters and spots, your eye doctor may not recommend anything at all. Or, s/he may recommend a range of treatments such as removing some of the vitreous humor and replacing it with a safe fluid substitute, supporting lifestyle changes or the management of contributing medical conditions, or using laser therapy (which is not the same as LASIK) to break up the particles.
Strabismus (crossed eyes)
Strabismus, or crossed eyes, is similar to a lazy eye because it involves a lack of coordination between the two eyes and the optic nerve. In this case, the issue affects both eyes, which can cause them to struggle to focus on the same point, and the irises may appear looking in two different directions.
TREATMENT: Early treatment is essential for the most effective and permanent fix. Depending on the severity of your child’s strabismus, your optometrist may recommend corrective lenses, eye exercises, or surgical repair.
Seek Early Diagnosis And Treatment Of Common Eye Conditions
Scheduling annual eye exams is the best way to prevent these 10 most common eye conditions or to be proactive about their treatment. Are you or your family overdue? Contact the Atlantic Eye Insitute, and let’s get you on our appointment calendar.