Our eyes are too often overlooked regarding our broader health and well-being. However, your eye health is an integral component of a healthy lifestyle and one you should pay attention to if you’re looking for ways to live a healthier life.
Many people are unaware of common eye diseases and conditions that can impact quality of life. Understanding the numerous eye conditions that can affect you throughout your lifetime is essential to ensuring you’re healthy from head to toe.
But what are common eye conditions and diseases, what symptoms should you look out for, and what are your treatment options? This article will tell you everything there is to know about different eye diseases and the information you should be aware of. Let’s get started!
A cataract is a clouding in your eye’s lens and can affect one or both eyes. Cataracts are the main cause of blindness globally and can develop at any age but are most common in adulthood, with an estimated 17.2% of American adults over 40 having cataracts in one or both eyes.
In the United States, cataracts are the main cause of reversible vision loss. While early symptoms can be hard to detect, there are some signs that you might be suffering from cataracts:
- Cloudy, blurred vision
- Eye sensitivity to bright lights
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Glare or halo around lights, especially at nighttime
- Regular changes to your eyeglass prescription
- Faded colors
While cataracts might be cause for concern, there are treatment methods that can help you overcome this condition. If your cataracts are severe, your doctor might recommend cataract surgery to solve the issue. This surgery is highly safe and effective, with 9 out of 10 people seeing better after receiving the surgery. During the cataract procedure, your doctor will extract the clouded lens in your eye or eyes and replace it with an artificial lens.
Glaucoma is a condition that occurs because of a higher-than-normal pressure in your eye. This condition damages your eye’s optic nerve because of the high pressure in your eye and is most common in adults. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults and is often hereditary.
There are two main types of this condition: open-angle and closed-angle. Open-angle glaucoma is an eye condition that slowly progresses over time, meaning that many people with this condition are unaware they have it until it’s further along in their lives. Closed-angle glaucoma develops more rapidly and can lead to fast vision loss if not addressed. Because of the slow nature of open-angle glaucoma, regular eye exams are essential for early preventative treatment. Some symptoms of glaucoma include:
- Red eyes
- Eye pain or pressure
- Halos or rings around lights
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low or blurred, wavy vision
- Tunnel vision
- Blind spots
Though glaucoma cannot be cured, there are several treatment options to mitigate damage and help you manage the condition. Laser therapy, eye drops, and surgery are all potential options to handle glaucoma and restore your eye health.
3. Diabetic Retinopathy
Individuals with diabetes might struggle with complications like diabetic retinopathy. This condition typically affects both eyes and occurs due to sustained damage to your retina’s blood vessels resulting from unmanaged glucose levels in your blood.
Like some other eye diseases, many people with diabetic retinopathy are unaware that they have the disease until it’s further along in its development and symptoms occur. Because it’s hard to detect initially, eye exams for your eye health are vital to address diabetic retinopathy.
While early stages of diabetic retinopathy don’t typically have any symptoms, later stages certainly do:
- Dark, floating spots or streaks in your eyes
- Faded colors or color blindness
- Blurred vision
- Poor vision at night
- Difficulty reading
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 4.1 million and 899,000 Americans are impacted by retinopathy and vision-threatening retinopathy, respectively. Treatment in the later stages of diabetic retinopathy is essential and might include the following:
- Eye injections with medicines known as anti-VEGF drugs to slow down or reverse the effects of diabetic retinopathy
- Laser treatments to lower the swelling in your retina and stop blood vessels from leaking
- Eye surgery, known as a vitrectomy
4. Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a condition that typically occurs with age and harms central vision. This eye disease causes damage to your macula and is the primary cause of partial or total vision loss for people over 60. While the condition can’t cause complete blindness, it can make daily tasks more difficult, causing you to lose central vision.
Macular degeneration has two forms: wet and dry AMD. Wet AMD is less common and typically causes rapid vision loss. It is a late-stage process that happens when abnormal blood vessels develop in your eyes and cause damage to the macula in your retina. Dry AMD is more common and occurs when your macula gets thinner as you age, gradually causing vision loss.
The symptoms of AMD aren’t usually noticeable until the condition has progressed and include the following:
- Blurriness in central vision
- Trouble seeing in low-lighting
- Straight lines appearing wave or crooked
- Dark spots in the center of your field of vision
- Dimmed or faded colors
- Blank spots
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatments are available to slow this condition’s progress and prevent significant vision loss. In the intermediate or later stages of AMD, your doctor might recommend supplements like certain vitamins and minerals to stop the rapid progression of the condition. Wet macular degeneration is sometimes treated with intraocular injections.
5. Dry Eye
Dry eye is a highly common condition that occurs when your eyes can’t produce enough tears to stay wet or when your tears don’t work as expected. It causes significant discomfort in your eyes and can potentially cause vision problems. When your eyes aren’t properly lubricated, you might experience some of the following symptoms:
- Scratchy feeling or the sense that something is in your eye
- Red eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
- Stinging or burning in the eyes
There are a few treatment options for dry eye. Your doctor might recommend over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears to supply your eyes with the moisture they need to eliminate discomfort. If you’re struggling with a more severe dry eye, your doctor might suggest prescription medications to help your eyes produce more tears. Depending on the condition’s root cause, your doctor might recommend surgery or tear duct plugs to treat the condition.
Another treatment option for dry eyes involves standard lifestyle changes to boost your health and well-being. Avoid smoking, get enough sleep, drink lots of water, and limit your screen time when possible – these small changes can make a big difference in your dry eye symptoms.
6. Refractive Errors
Refractive eye errors include common problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or distorted vision at different distances (astigmatism). Refractive errors are the most common eye problem in the United States, with over 150 million Americans struggling with refractive errors. This vision problem makes it difficult for the individual to see clearly and occurs when your eye’s shape prevents light from focusing on your retina correctly.
Symptoms of refractive errors include the following:
- Blurry vision
- Glares or halos around bright lights
- Eye strain
- Double vision
- Hazy vision
- Difficulty focusing when reading or viewing a screen
Because of how common refractive errors are, your doctor should be extremely well-versed in treating this condition. People with refractive errors often receive treatment through prescription glasses or contacts. Depending on your case, you might consider some types of surgery, like laser eye surgery, to address refractive errors. Talk to your doctor about the best path for you.
Amblyopia is a common cause of vision problems for children, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the condition affects 2-3% of the population of the United States. Also known as a lazy eye, amblyopia occurs when there’s a disconnect between how your brain and eye work together. Because one eye doesn’t function properly, individuals with amblyopia must rely on vision from one eye – and over time, your brain relies more and more on the stronger eye, causing worsened vision in the weaker one.
Amblyopia is a noticeable condition that your doctor can identify, and if you notice vision problems with your child, it’s important to have them tested for the condition. Common signs of amblyopia include squinting and shutting one eye.
There are treatments available for amblyopia, though options are somewhat limited. Individuals with the condition can consider wearing an eye patch over the stronger side to make the brain use the weaker side to process visual information. Your doctor might also recommend using special eye drops in your stronger eye, as these drops can temporarily blur vision in your stronger eye and force your brain to use the weaker eye.
Protect Your Eye Health With Newsom Eye
Regular eye exams are vital to protect your eye health and monitor the development of potential eye conditions or diseases. The professionals at Newsom Eye can help you by offering the best eye care available to treat any eye diseases and address your concerns. Contact us today to schedule your eye doctor appointment and take charge of your eye health with Newsom Eye.