Common Eye Problems

Of the five senses, sight is the one that people fear losing the most. There are many things that you can do to protect your sight and your eye health. Simply knowing about precautions and the common signs and symptoms of problems are the first steps to ensuring healthy eyes that function well your entire life.

Common Eye Problems Include:

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye which affects your vision. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all people in the United States either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Cataracts usually develop slowly. New glasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses can help at first. Surgery is an option that involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight may help to delay cataracts.

Common symptoms are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Colors that seem faded
  • Glare or not being able to see well at night
  • Double vision
  • Frequent prescription changes in your eye wear

Glaucoma

Glaucoma damages the eye's optic nerve. It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States and usually happens when the fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, damaging the optic nerve. Often there are initially no symptoms, but a comprehensive eye exam can detect it. Early treatment can help protect your eyes against vision loss. Treatments usually include prescription eye drops and/or surgery. People at risk should get eye exams at least every two years.

They include:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • People over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

Retinal Disorders

The retina is a layer of tissue in the back of your eye that senses light and sends images to your brain. In the center of this nerve tissue is the macula. It provides the sharp, central vision needed for reading, driving, and seeing fine detail. Retinal disorders affect this vital tissue that can affect your vision, and some can be serious enough to cause blindness.

Examples are

  • Retinal detachment - a medical emergency, when the retina is pulled away from the back of the eye
  • Macular pucker - scare tissue on the macula
  • Macular hole - a small break in the macula that usually happens to people over age 60
  • Floaters - cowers or specks in your field of vision

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is also known as "pink eye." It can cause swelling, itching, burning, discharge, redness of the protective membrane that lines the eyelids and covers exposed areas of the white of the eye. Pink eye usually does not affect vision. Infectious pink eye can easily spread from one person to another. The infection will clear in most cases without medical care, but bacterial pink eye needs treatment with antibiotic eye drops or ointment.

Causes include:

  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Allergies
  • Substances that cause irritation
  • Contact lens products, eye drops, or eye ointments