Amblyopia (lazy eye)Amblyopia, commonly called lazy eye, occurs when one eye develops differently than the other eye, causing one eye to be weaker than the other. Sometimes a difference in focusing ability causes one eye to be used more often. Other times, the eyes are misaligned, causing one eye to “shut off” to avoid double vision. Regardless of the cause, the result is a weakened, or amblyopic eye.
SymptomsIt’s hard to spot amblyopia. Sometimes a child will noticeably favor one eye over the other. Another possible symptom is the child frequently bumping into things on one side. The best way to tell if your child has lazy eye is through a complete exam around six months and three years. Early diagnosis can prevent amblyopia from leading to more serious problems such as loss of the ability to see three dimensions or functional blindness in the amblyopic eye.
TreatmentMost of the time amblyopia can’t be entirely corrected. The amblyopic eye will always be a bit weaker than the other. However, with treatment, vision in the amblyopic eye can be improved to some extent. Treatment involves encouraging the weak eye to develop. This is done using eye patches, vision therapy, glasses, and usually a combination of the three. The strong eye may be patched to encourage the weak eye to develop. Vision therapy can help to correct improper use of the eyes. If a focusing error is at the root of the problem, then glasses may reduce the error. Most of the time the amblyopic eye will always require glasses. American Optometric Association : Amblyopia
AstigmatismSometimes the cornea is irregularly shaped, causing the eye to focus an object on two different areas of the retina. This is known as astigmatism. For the cornea to bend light correctly, it should be dome-shaped, like a basketball. Astigmatic corneas are shaped more like a football. This causes a distorted view when looking at objects which are close-up and far away. The cause of astigmatism is unknown. Astigmatism is often associated with myopia or hyperopia, and usually occurs from birth. It may be hereditary, or it may be caused by factors such as pressure on the cornea, incorrect posture, or increased use of the eyes for “near work.” Mild astigmatism usually doesn’t need to be corrected. Eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery can correct moderate to high degrees of astigmatism.
Computer Vision SyndromeComputer Vision Syndrome (CVS) affects 75% of computer users. It is a series of symptoms related to extended periods of computer usage. Don’t worry, there is no cause for panic, measures can be taken to relieve it.
SymptomsCVS can appear as a variety of symptoms such as: headaches, eye strain, neck and back aches, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, double vision, and irritated eyes.
Risk FactorsAny computer user can develop CVS. Your vision, your computer, and the environment where you use your computer are all factors which can lead to CVS. American Optometric Association : Computer Vision Syndrome
EmmetropiaWhen an eye’s optical power is perfectly matched to its length, the eye is said to be emmetropic. Emmetropia is the medical term for 20/20 vision needing no corrective lenses, contact lenses, or reading glasses. It occurs because the optical power of the eye can perfectly focus an image to the retina, giving them “perfect” vision. The opposite of emmetropia is ametropia. With ametropia, the focal point of the eye is some distance in front of or behind the retina.
Hyperopia (farsightedness)Hyperopia is more commonly known as farsightedness. As the name suggests, people with farsightedness are able to focus on objects that are further away, but have difficulty focusing on objects which are very close. This is because the eyeball is shorter than normal, which prevents the crystalline lens in the eye from focusing correctly on the retina. About 25% of the population are afflicted with hyperopia. Hyperopia can lead to chronic glaucoma, a more serious condition, later in life. A family history of hyperopia is a risk factor for developing hyperopia. Often babies are born with hyperopia but they can usually outgrow the condition as the eye develops into the correct shape. Hyperopia can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. There are also new surgical procedures that can correct hyperopia.
Myopia (nearsightedness)Myopia is the medical term for what most people call nearsightedness. It is a condition where you can see objects clearly only when they are closer, but when objects are further away you can’t focus on them. Myopia usually develops in early childhood, though it sometimes develops in early adulthood. In rare cases, myopia can lead to more serious conditions such as retinal detachment. Myopia is considered a genetic disorder. If your parents are nearsighted, you are at greater risk of also being nearsighted. Another risk factor is ‘near work’ – work involving fine detail or focusing on close objects. Myopia can be accommodated and sometimes corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Sometimes myopia continues to gradually worsen throughout life, a condition known as myopic creep. Myopia can also be corrected by LASIK surgery.
PresbyopiaAs a people get older, usually when they hit their mid to late 40s, a condition called presbyopia can set in. Presbyopia is the inability to focus on objects near the eye. One usually notices that it is harder to read or use the computer. Bifocals or reading glasses are a way to remedy. Presbyopia is a natural consequence of the aging process. There is no cure, though researchers are constantly looking for one. Even if someone has never had vision problems before, they can still develop presbyopia. It may seem to occur suddenly, but actually occurs over a long period of time. Symptoms include having to hold things at arm’s length to see them clearly, eye strain, fatigue, and headaches from near work.
BlepharitisThere are two types of blepharitis: Seborrheic and Staph. Seborrheic blepharitis is often part of an overall skin condition called seborrhea, which may also affect the scalp, chest, back and the area behind the ears. The second form of blepharitis – staph blepharitis – is a more common condition, caused by bacteria, that begins in childhood and may continue through adulthood.
CausesHormones, nutrition, general physical condition, and even stress may contribute to seborrheic blepharitis. Build-ups of naturally occurring bacteria contribute to staph blepharitis.
SymptomsBlepharitis could be described as dandruff of the eyelids. Seborrheic blepharitis causes redness of the eyelids, flaking and scaling of the eyelashes, and greasy, waxy scales. Staph blepharitis also causes redness of the eyelid margins and flaking of the lashes, and can cause loss of eyelashes, eyelid scarring, and red eye.
TreatmentEyelid scrubs with baby shampoo or a specially formulated cleaner can reduce the symptoms of blepharitis. Application of hot packs to the eyes daily can also help. Staph blepharitis may also require antibiotic drops or ointments. The use of artificial tears is often helpful to relieve associated discomfort or dryness. American Optometric Association: Blepharitis
CataractsA cataract is a cloudiness that occurs in the lens inside of the eye. The lens is made mostly of water and protein arranged to let light through. When the protein clumps, light is blocked and the lens appears cloudy.Cataracts are not a disease; we will all develop cataracts as we get older.
SymptomsA person with cataracts may notice faded colors, problems with light (such as halos, or headlights that seem too bright), or poor night vision.
TreatmentYour eye doctor can detect the presence of cataracts during a thorough eye exam, including a microscopic examination of the inside of the eye. When vision is impaired to a point where it interferes with daily activities, surgery may be indicated. Surgery is done on an out-patient basis and involves a very small incision, through which the cloudy substance of the lens is removed and replaced with an intra-ocular lens implant (IOL). With today’s technology and surgical techniques most patients find their vision after surgery to be very clear at distance, without the use of glasses. American Optometric Association : Cataracts
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)Conjunctivitis, is a redness of the eye. It is often accompanied by discharge and itching or a foreign body sensation.
CausesPink eye is most often a viral infection, but may also be caused by bacteria or an allergic reaction. Viral and bacterial pink eye can be highly contagious.
Prevention & TreatmentTo avoid spreading conjunctivitis, wash your hands often, don’t touch the infected area with your hands, don’t share wash cloths or towels, and avoid using makeup which may become contaminated. A child with pink eye should be kept from school for a few days. Sometimes your doctor will need to prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments to treat conjunctivitis. American Optometric Association : Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
Diabetic RetinopathyDiabetic retinopathy is a condition associated with diabetes. High levels of blood sugar can damage tiny blood vessels in the eye, causing poor circulation. This can cause small leaks in the vessels, and swelling of the retinal nerve layer. Eventually new vessels, which are very fragile, may form to replace the damaged vessels. The new vessels can burst, creating a hemorrhage, and resulting in blurred vision or even blindness.
SymptomsSymptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
- Blurred or darkened vision
- Sudden loss of vision