There are countless different eye diseases that can affect us. Some will resolve themselves, while others will require professional intervention to alleviate our symptoms. Many are mild, and yet some could have a permanent effect on the health of our eyes or our long-term vision. As our most valuable sense, our eyesight is something that we should prioritize protecting. One of the best ways of doing this is by understanding more about what causes some eye diseases to develop and knowing the signs so that we can seek professional help promptly.
Here are some of the most common eye diseases, their symptoms, and their causes.
Also known as pink eye, this condition is characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin, clear tissue covering the whites of our eyes and lining the insides of our eyelids. Conjunctivitis can be extremely contagious and is especially common in children. Fortunately, with treatment, it is rarely serious.
Viruses, particularly that which causes the common cold
Irritants like shampoo, dirt, and smoke
Eyes that look red/pink
Thick, sticky mucus from the eyes
Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw
Slightly blurred vision
Some types of conjunctivitis can be treated with eye drops or other medications, and keeping the eyes clean is essential. However, some varieties must be left to clear up of their own accord.
Dry eyes are extremely common and occur when there is a problem with your tear film. Tear film is made from oil, water, and proteins and covers the surface of the eyes to keep them moist and able to move comfortably. People with dry eyes usually find that there isn’t enough oil in their tear film or that the tear film drains too quickly.
Being over the age of 50
Spending a lot of time looking at screens
Wearing contact lenses
Spending time in dry, dusty, or artificially heated/cooled environments
Taking certain medications, including some antidepressants and blood pressure drugs
Suffering from blepharitis or autoimmune conditions
Eyes that feel dry and stiff
Itchiness, grittiness, or soreness
Sensitivity to light
Eyes that are more watery than normal
There are many different treatments that can help with dry eyes, from eyedrops and heated compresses to laser treatment and surgery.
Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye develops cloudy patches. Over time, these patches grow in size, becoming large enough to obscure your vision. They are most commonly associated with older people but can occur at any age.
It’s not always clear why some people develop cataracts and others don’t, but you could be at greater risk if you:
Are age 50+
Have a family history of cataracts
Suffer from diabetes
Drink too much alcohol
Have used steroids long-term
Have suffered an eye injury in the past
Vision that is blurred or misted
Colors look faded
You find lights too bright
It’s hard to see in low light
Unfortunately, the only way to treat cataracts is through surgery. This involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial alternative. Cataract surgery is very common and extremely safe.
Glaucoma is a common eye condition where pressure building within the eye causes damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that can cause permanent damage to your vision. There are two main types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma develops very slowly over many years, while acute, closed-angle glaucoma happens suddenly.
In most cases, glaucoma is caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye. This is open-angle glaucoma. However, if the natural drainage in the eye suddenly becomes blocked, glaucoma can develop and cause damage to your vision extremely quickly.
You are more likely to suffer from glaucoma if:
You are over the age of 50
You are of African, Caribbean, or Asian origin
You have a family history of glaucoma
You have other medical conditions, such as diabetes
Most of the time, glaucoma develops very slowly, and this makes symptoms virtually impossible to spot. Instead, open-angle glaucoma is usually detected at routine eye exams. If you develop acute glaucoma, you may notice symptoms that include:
Severe eye pain
Nausea and vomiting
Acute glaucoma is an eye emergency and if you experience any signs of the condition, you must seek an appointment with your eye doctor immediately. There are treatments that can help to lower your eye pressure and preserve your vision. Any vision that is already lost as a result of glaucoma is unable to be restored.
If you would like more information about symptoms & causes of eye diseases, contact Smoot Eye Care in Bedford, IN at (812) 675-4199 to speak with our expert eye care team or schedule an appointment.