Other Eye Conditions
Commonly referred to as nearsightedness, myopia makes it difficult to see objects that are far away. This happens when either the cornea is too rounded or the eye is too long, which prevents the light from being sharply focused on the back of the eye (retina). It commonly develops around age 10-12 and usually stops changing around age 30. Myopia can be treated with glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery.
Commonly referred to as farsightedness, hyperopia is a condition that occurs mainly due to the length of the eye being too short to focus light at short distances. This can cause patients to tire or get headaches more easily when reading or working up close. Hyperopia can be present at birth and get worse as a child grows, requiring glasses to be worn full-time. Hyperopia can be treated with glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery.
Astigmatism occurs from having an irregular or unevenly shaped cornea, and it can cause blurring of vision at all distances. Light passing through the irregular cornea becomes distorted and cannot focus sharply on the back of the eye (retina). This often results in headaches or sore, tired eyes. In most cases, astigmatism develops at an early age but does not tend to deteriorate with age. Astigmatism is most commonly corrected with glasses, but contact lenses or laser surgery can be an option.
As eyes age, your natural lens becomes less flexible, which makes it increasingly difficult to focus on close-up objects. This is called presbyopia. It typically becomes noticeable after the age of 40 and may begin with difficulty to read fine print. Reading glasses are typically prescribed and can help relieve the headaches and tired eyes associated with presbyopia.
Your retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina is pulled from its normal position, permanent vision loss can occur if not promptly treated. Symptoms of retinal detachment can include a sudden increase in the number of “floaters” (specks) and/or light flashes in your field of vision, as well as the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision. Retinal detachment is a medical emergency, and anyone experiencing these symptoms should see an eye care professional as soon as possible.
Retinal detachment can occur at any age but is more likely to occur in someone who has had an eye injury, is extremely nearsighted or has another eye disease or disorder such as retinoschisis, uveitis, degenerative myopia or lattice degeneration.
“Floaters” are little cobwebs or specks that float about in your field of vision. They occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of your eye and helps maintain your eye’s round shape, begins to shrink. As the vitreous shrinks, it can become stringy, and the strands cast tiny shadows on the retina, which appear as floaters.
These small, dark shapes can look like spots, thread-like strands or squiggly lines. They move as your eye moves but continue to drift after your eye has stopped moving. In most cases, floaters are merely an annoyance that comes with aging. They can be distracting at first but often settle out of your line of sight so that a person does not notice them anymore.
While normally just a sign of aging, floaters can also be a sign of more serious conditions such as infection, inflammation (uveitis), hemorrhaging, retinal tears or eye injury. For most people, floaters are simply annoying, but if vision is significantly affected, a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy may be needed to remove the floaters from the eye.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Also known as Keratitis Sicca, dry eye syndrome is a common condition that affects approximately 60 million Americans. The cause is not always clear, but it seems to occur when there is a deficiency in one of the three layers that make up your tear film. Symptoms usually include itchy, burning eyes, redness or tearing.
Certain other diseases or medications can be associated with dry eye, such as rheumatoid arthritis and antihistamines. Dry eye syndrome can usually be diagnosed by patient history alone, but an eye exam will confirm it. Treatments for dry eye can range from artificial tears to punctal plugs that are inserted into the tear ducts. These tiny plugs can be inserted with little or no discomfort and can easily be removed if the patient experiences too many tears.
Blepharitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids. Because it tends to recur, it can be difficult to manage. Anterior blepharitis affects the outside front of the eyelid and is most commonly caused by bacteria or scalp dandruff. Posterior blepharitis affects the inner eyelid and is caused by problems with the oil glands in this part of the eyelid. Two skin disorders can cause this: acne rosacea, which leads to red, inflamed skin and scalp dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis).
Symptoms of either form of blepharitis include a foreign object or burning sensation, excessive tearing, itching, sensitivity to light, red and swollen eyelids, redness of the eye, blurred vision, frothy tears, dry eye or crusting of the eyelids upon waking. Because blepharitis rarely goes away completely, most patients must maintain an eyelid hygiene routine for life. If blepharitis is severe, your eye care professional may also prescribe antibiotics or steroid eye drops.
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