Prevent common eye problems by getting out ahead of them! Just like any other complex organ, there always seems to be something new that can go wrong, and the eyes are no exception. Excellent eye care can make quite the impact in your life: your day-to-day activities, your ability to be mobile, and even your self-esteem levels. Keeping your eyes healthy starts with preventing problems before they’ve started with at least an annual eye exam. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), “delay in eye exams may result in permanent vision loss and disability.” Common eye problems can be avoided when you empower yourself with knowledge of warning signs, symptoms and risk factors.
Healthline and the AOA created a list of about 60 of the most common eye problems a person can have. Notice how I said, “of the most common.” There are even more than 60 problems you can have with your eyes, but no need to fret. Optometrists are trained to treat your eyes according to your specific needs. If you don’t have regularly-scheduled visits with your doctor, we recommend that you set up an appointment today.
We have provided a few facts of some common eye problems that are out there. Read on to learn more about them:
Computer Vision Syndrome
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Dry Eye Syndrome
Eye Floaters & Spots
Definition: Also known as “Digital Eye Strain”, this can be caused by prolonged screen use. It has become more frequent in the last 10 years with the development of technology. Symptoms include headaches, dry eyes (from lack of blinking), eye strain and blurred vision.
Prevention: The AOA recommends taking breaks every 20 minutes to view something 20 feet away for 20 seconds so that the eyes can refocus (called the 20-20-20 Rule). Proper lighting, anti-glare screens, and viewing screens at a comfortable distance can help with prevention.
Risk Factors: Environment
Definition: Objects close-by are seen clearly, while objects at a distance are blurred. The light that hits the eye is unable to focus due to too much curvature of the cornea (or because of a longer eyeball).
Prevention/Treatment: Myopia is usually detected using a vision chart. It can be treated with corrective lenses, eyeglasses, laser or refractive surgical procedures, vision therapy, and corneal refractive therapy (CRT). An optometrist is your best resource for diagnosing and treating Myopia. Wearing glasses does not make Myopia worse, and wearing weaker glasses will not force your eyes to improve over time. (It will just give you a headache.)
Risk Factors: Genetics and environment.
Definition: Distant objects can be seen, whereas close objects are out of focus. Light that hits the eye is unable to focus due to too little curvature of the cornea (or because of a shorter eyeball).
Prevention: Farsightedness is harder to detect than nearsightedness. Usually an optometrist must diagnose and treat you. Some forms of farsightedness (usually mild cases) can compensate just fine without corrective lenses, whereas other forms will need special treatment. Farsightedness is usually inherited, and there are no known specific preventative measures for it.
Risk Factors: Genetics and environment.
Definition: Your conjunctiva is the transparent, thin layer of tissue that lines the inner part of your eyelid and the part that covers the whites of your eyes. Conjunctivitis occurs when this layer becomes inflamed and infected, causing the eyelid to swell and the eye to turn pink (hence the nickname “Pink Eye”.)
Prevention/Treatment: In many cases (especially children), a viral or bacterial infection causes conjunctivitis and it is highly contagious. It can also be caused by allergic reactions to allergens in the environment or chemicals such as air pollution or chlorine. Do not share eye products with other people, especially makeup. Washing hands often and not touching your eyes can help prevent bacterial strains of conjunctivitis from spreading. Treatment for this usually includes antibiotic eye drops, ointments, or removing the irritant (if it is allergen-caused). Medicines cannot cure conjunctivitis.
Risk Factors: Environment
Definition: There are insufficient tears to lubricate the eyes, and in many cases this happens with age.
Prevention/Treatment: Artificial tears can help relieve immediate discomfort. Your optometrist, however, can also prescribe stronger prescriptions that can help your eyes naturally produce more tears. Some doctors suggest taking Omega-3 fatty acid supplements on your own, as some patients see a decrease in symptoms with these.
Risk Factors: Age, gender, environmental and medical conditions. Medication use (such as persistent use of antihistamines) can cause dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries (like LASIK) and prolonged contact lens use can also be contributing factors to dry-eye sufferers as well.
Definition: Small, semi-transparent or cloudy particles that float around in the fluid that fills the eye. When these particles pass through your field of vision, you may see them as shadows or blurs moving around. The particles are in the actual fluid that fills your eyes, so they will move as your eyes move.
Prevention/Treatment: Some eye floaters can be caused by eye injuries or eye diseases. Some are also caused by proteins that are present in the eyes as well. The best way to prevent eye floaters (if any) is to avoid eye injuries.
Risk Factors: Eye floaters can be indications of other eye diseases, so it is best to be seen by an optometrist regularly.
Definition: Eyelid inflammation that causes redness, irritation and itchiness. Blepharitis is not contagious and can affect people of all ages. It is usually caused by bacteria or current skin conditions (such as dandruff).
Prevention: The best prevention is to keep your eyes and the surrounding area clean every day. If blepharitis is caused by bacteria, an antibiotic may be prescribed to the patient. Using artificial tears, limiting eye makeup during inflammation, and holding off on wearing contact lenses can help clear up blepharitis faster.
Risk Factors: Environment and skin conditions.
Definition: Damage to the ocular nerve, usually caused by eye disorders that lead to progressive eye damage over time. Nerve tissues in the eyes deteriorate over time leading to a loss in vision.
Prevention/Treatment: The actual cause of glaucoma itself is unknown. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease must have extra caution with their eye health, as they have a higher risk for glaucoma. Preventing injuries to the eyes will also help to avoid a buildup of eye pressure. Glaucoma is treated with medication and surgery (such as laser surgery), but unfortunately there is no cure.
Risk Factors: Family history of glaucoma, race, age, medical conditions, physical eye injuries, and inherited eye anatomy. African Americans have more cases of glaucoma than other race. In some cases, prolonged corticosteroid use (hydrocortisone, cortisone and prednisone) can also increase your chances of glaucoma.
Although these are just a few common eye symptoms, you can find more resources for your specific eye inquiries and questions through the American Optometric Association or other reputable sources (such as your optometrist).
The good news is that many of these common eye problems (if not all) can be prevented or kept under control once a problem has been detected. Many patients only call their eye doctor when a problem has occurred, but we highly recommend scheduling with your doctor well in advance of having a problem. Some common eye problems can be indicators of deeper, underlying health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure, which, with the right treatment, can be managed or even eradicated. The key is scheduling regular in-office visits with a professional who can check your eyes often and make sure you are on track for healthy eyes. Haven’t scheduled a doctor visit yet? You know your body better than anybody else. Conducting your own, frequent self-exams will help you detect changes in your vision quicker than anyone else could in between your doctor visits. If you haven’t already, remember to make your optometrist appointment today. Give us a call today at our Leetsdale & Monaco location: (720) 782-2190, or our Evans & Federal Location: (720) 782-2190.