Common Eye Conditions And How They Affect Your Sight

Blurred vision or loss of vision can be caused by any of a number of common eye conditions. Many people wrongly assume blurred vision is a result of age (and it can be), and avoid getting their eyes checked or seeking treatment. Many common eye conditions leading to poor vision, such as cataracts, can be treated and vision can be restored when the condition is diagnosed early.

If you experience blurred vision or vision loss, it may be due to any of these common eye conditions:

Astigmatism – Astigmatism is a common eye condition in which the cornea and lens of the eye is unevenly curved. An equally curved eye will properly refract light, allowing clear vision, but an irregular shaped cornea or lens can affect vision. Symptoms of astigmatism include blurry vision, eye straining, headaches and squinting to see clearly.

Mild to moderate astigmatism is most commonly treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses. In some more serious cases, LASIK eye surgery can treat astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. Reshaping of the cornea will improve how the eye focuses light rays on the retina.

Cataracts – Despite common belief, a cataract is not a growth or film over the eye. It is the clouding over of the focusing lens of the eye, which is located behind the pupil. Symptoms of cataracts include: blurred vision; difficulty seeing street signs, curbs, freeway exits and traffic lights; seeing halos or glare around lights; difficulty seeing TV, movies or faces; difficulty reading and more.

Cataracts can be treated with cataract surgery. To restore vision that has been lost or impaired by a cataract, the cloudy lens must be removed and a clear plastic implant lens replaces the cloudy lens.

Floaters and flashes – Many people experience floaters, which appear as black specks in their line of vision. The back of the eye is filled with a gel-like substance called vitreous. As we age, the vitreous liquefies, but pieces of gel may be left floating around. Floaters are not dangerous, but a sudden onset of floaters or a large number of
them may be a sign of a more severe retinal condition.

Movement of the vitreous gel in the eye can also cause a flash of light to appear in vision. Like floaters, flashes caused by movement in vitreous gel are not dangerous; however, they may also be a sign of a hole or tear in the retina.

If you experience floaters or flashes, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to have your eyes examined to rule out more serious conditions.

Glaucoma – A buildup of pressure due to an abnormal flow of fluid in the eye results in glaucoma. When pressure rises inside the eye, it could result in damage to optic nerves and permanent blindness.

There is no treatment to restore vision loss due to glaucoma, so treatment of the condition is crucial in an effort to avoid vision loss. Eye drops and other medication can be used to manage pressure within the eye. In severe cases, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty can be performed to open drainage holes in the eye, allowing the fluid to move more freely.

Macular degeneration – The macula is the central part of the retina and is responsible for sharp central vision. Degeneration of the macula can result in blurred vision or loss in central vision and can affect ability to read, drive and see clearly. With macular degeneration total blindness rarely occurs, as side vision is unaffected, but ability to see straight ahead can be lost.

Treatment for macular degeneration depends on the type of degeneration. Treatment options range from nutritional supplements to laser treatment.

Refractive errors – The most common eye conditions resulting in poor vision and a need for vision correction are refractive errors. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are all types of refractive errors.

Nearsightedness (also called myopia) occurs when an eye is too long and light rays are
bent into a point of focus that is in front of the retina. As a result, an individual will be able to see clearly up close, but will strain to see and read at a distance.

Farsightedness (also called hyperopia) occurs when an eye is too short. Light is not
focused by the time it reaches the retina. As a result, an individual will be able to see clearly at a distance, but will strain to see and read up close.

Refractive errors can be treated with contact lenses or eyeglasses. In this case, artificial lenses are shaped to the necessary degree to compensate for refractive errors. LASIK surgery can also correct refractive errors by changing the shape of the cornea so that they eye will properly refract light into a point of focus on the retina.

If you experience any problems with your vision, do not delay getting treatment. Have your eyes examined regularly to ensure early diagnosis of any eye conditions. Many times vision loss or blindness can be prevented, but once vision loss occurs, it is more difficult to restore. Contact Key-Whitman today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

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