Vision Conditions

Amblyopia (lazy eye)

amblyopia 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.

Symptoms

It’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.

Treatment

Most 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

Astigmatism

stigSometimes 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 Syndrome

Computer 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.

Symptoms

CVS 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 Factors

Any 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

Emmetropia

When 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)

hyperHyperopia 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)

myoMyopia 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.

Presbyopia

over40As 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.

Blepharitis

There 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.

Causes

Hormones, nutrition, general physical condition, and even stress may contribute to seborrheic blepharitis. Build-ups of naturally occurring bacteria contribute to staph blepharitis.

Symptoms

Blepharitis 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.

Treatment

Eyelid 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

Cataracts

A 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.

Symptoms

A person with cataracts may notice faded colors, problems with light (such as halos, or headlights that seem too bright), or poor night vision.

Treatment

Your 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 Conjunctivitis, is a redness of the eye. It is often accompanied by discharge and itching or a foreign body sensation.

Causes

Pink 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 & Treatment

To 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 Retinopathy

Diabetic 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.

Symptoms

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
  • Blurred or darkened vision
  • Sudden loss of vision

Risk Factors & Treatment

It is critical for all diabetic patients to have a thorough eye health examination at least every year. When diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed early, medical management, including laser treatment and other surgeries, can be more effective in preserving vision. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetic patients also have a higher risk of developing cataracts at a younger age, and of having glaucoma. If you have diabetes, make sure you control your blood sugar level. This will reduce your risk of getting diabetic eye disease and other complications involving the heart, kidneys, and other organs. American Optometric Association : Diabetic Retinopathy

Dry Eye Syndrome

If your eyes are often itchy or dry, you may have dry eye syndrome, which affects almost 10 million Americans. Dry eye syndrome is caused by a lack of, or poor quality of, tears. Tears lubricate the outer layers of the eye, called the cornea and conjunctiva. If the tears are not composed of a proper balance of mucous, water, and oil, the eye becomes irritated.

Symptoms

Dry eye syndrome leads to a number of symptoms, including itching, irritation, burning, excessive tearing, redness, blurred vision that improves with blinking, and discomfort after long periods of watching television, driving, using a computer, or reading.

Risk Factors

There are many environmental factors that can contribute to dry eye syndrome. These include dry, hot, or windy climates, high altitudes, air-conditioned rooms, and cigarette smoke. Contact lens wearers, people with drier skin, and the elderly are more likely to develop dry eye syndrome. You may also be more at risk if you take certain medications, have a thyroid condition, a vitamin-A deficiency, Parkinson’s or Sjorgen’s disease, or if you are a woman going through menopause. American Optometric Association: Dry Eye

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is generally caused by too much fluid pressure inside the eye. Fluid in the eye helps to nourish and cleanse the inside of the eye by constantly flowing in and out. When too much fluid is produced or the fluid is prevented from flowing out, the intraocular pressure increases and damages the optic nerve. This causes a gradual loss in peripheral vision.

Symptoms

Open angle glaucoma is often called the “Sneak Thief of Sight” because it has no symptoms until the disease is in advanced stages. With advanced glaucoma patients develop tunnel vision, where their peripheral field of vision decreases. Glaucoma can eventually cause blindness.

Risk Factors & Treatment

Heredity seems to be a risk factor. Also, you may be at greater risk if you are over 45, of African descent, very near-sighted, or diabetic. Finally, if you have used steroids or cortisone for a long period of time, or if you have suffered an eye injury in the past, you have a greater chance of developing glaucoma. Treatment may include prescription eye drops, laser treatment, and other surgeries. The goal of treatment is to reduce the pressure, thereby limiting damage to the optic nerve, and preserving vision. American Optometric Association : Glaucoma

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease which affects a small area of the retina known as the macula. The macula is the central area of the retina that allows us to see the fine detail of whatever we look at directly. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula is damaged.

“Wet” vs. “Dry”

Most often, macular degeneration is accompanied by the formation of yellow deposits called “drusen” under the macula, which dry out or thin the macula. This is called “dry” macular degeneration. In less common cases, abnormal blood vessels develop under the macula and leak fluid. This is called “wet” macular degeneration.

Causes

A number of uncontrollable factors contribute to macular degeneration, including age, sex, eye color, farsightedness, and race. Risk factors you can control include smoking, high blood pressure, exposure to harmful sunlight, and diet.

Symptoms

It is difficult for patients to detect dry macular degeneration in its early stages. The most common symptom is blurred vision. Wet macular degeneration progresses much faster than dry.  Symptoms include blurred vision and distortion or a dark spot in central vision. Both forms of macular degeneration can cause severe visual impairment.

Treatment

Treatment for dry, or atrophic macular degeneration includes cessation of smoking, control of high blood pressure and nutritional therapy. The most recent development in the treatment of wet macular degeneration is Photo Dynamic Therapy, which involves injecting a dye, Verteporforin, into the bloodstream and then applying a special, cool laser to the affected retinal area. When successful, this stops the leaking of blood while limiting damage to the sensitive retina above it. American Optometric Association: Macular Degeneration

Retinal Detachment

The part of the eye which collects light and transmits the images to the optic nerve and brain is the retina. It lines the inner back wall of the eye. When separated from the back wall, it is known as retinal detachment.

Symptoms

A retinal detachment may cause a sudden defect in your vision. It may just cause a blind spot too small to notice, or it may cause a noticeable shadow which obscures your vision. A sudden increase in “floaters,” which look like small particles or fine threads, may also be noticed. Finally, flashes of light may be associated with retinal detachment.

Risk Factors

Most retinal detachments are not caused by any specific injury or event, but eye injuries, tumors, and cataract surgery can cause the retina to detach. Very near-sighted individuals and the elderly are at greater risk for spontaneous detachment. Also, diabetic retinopathy, a condition associated with diabetes, can cause bleeding which can lead to retinal detachment.