The Most Common Eye Conditions: Understanding Vision Health
Eyes are delicate and susceptible to various eye disorders and diseases. These problems could impact vision and temporarily or permanently alter the ways we experience the world around us. To give you an insight into some of the most common eye conditions in the world, Ophthalmology24 will summarize them, along with their causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment options.
Table of Content:
Common Eye Conditions: Symptoms & Treatment
Recognizing the symptoms of common eye problems and understanding their appropriate treatments is essential for sustaining visual well-being:
1. Refractive Errors
Refractive errors are the most common eye conditions. In fact, millions of people around the world have some type of refractive error. They occur when the shape of the eye makes the light not focus directly on the retina, leading to unclear or blurry vision.
Hereditary refractive errors are caused by an abnormality in the eye's shape, which passes down from parents to children. However, refractive errors can also develop in time as a natural result of aging or injury to the eye.
There is currently no medical proof or scientific evidence that blue light and modern digital screens cause refractive errors. So for now, ophthalmologists agree this is just an eye health myth.
In most cases, it is easy to correct refractive errors with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery such as LASIK.
The common types of refractive errors include:
Myopia occurs when the eye is too long or the cornea is too steep, causing distant objects to appear blurry, while close objects remain clear.
Hyperopia occurs when the eye is too short or the cornea is too flat, causing close objects to appear blurry, while distant objects remain clear.
Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens is irregularly shaped, causing blurred or distorted vision at any distance.
Cataracts are one of the common eye conditions that affect the lens of the eye, causing it to become cloudy and affecting vision.
In addition to aging, other factors such as genetics, diabetes, trauma, and medication side effects can also contribute to developing this eye problem.
Cataract symptoms include blurry vision, sensitivity to light, difficulty seeing at night, and seeing halos around lights.
It is possible to treat cataracts surgically. The surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and then replacing it with an artificial lens instead. Most importantly, cataract surgery is safe and effective. The procedure vastly improves vision and enhances the quality of life.
3. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss among elders and older adults. It occurs when the macula (the central part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision) becomes damaged.
AMD can cause blurry vision or distortion, dark or empty areas in the central visual field, and difficulty with tasks that require central vision, such as reading or face recognition. There are generally two types of Age-related macular degeneration - wet (or neovascular) AMD and dry AMD.
Although there is no cure for dry age-related macular degeneration, early detection, lifestyle changes, and supplements may slow its progression and preserve vision. For wet AMD, there is an available treatment option with injections of a special medicament in the eye (anti-VEGF).
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve, transmitting visual signals from the eye to the brain.
It is often associated with increased intraocular pressure, although some forms of glaucoma occur with normal or even low intraocular pressure.
According to WHO (World Health Organisation), glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide.
Glaucoma, a.k.a the "silent thief of sight", usually progresses slowly and painlessly, and vision loss may not be noticeable until the later stages.
Regular eye exams are crucial for early diagnosis and managing glaucoma. Effective treatment options include medications (eyedrops), laser therapy, and surgery.
RELATED: How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy?
5. Diabetic Retinopathy
Chronic exposure to high blood sugar levels may seriously damage the retinal blood vessels. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. When the blood vessels of the retina leak, swell, or close, that usually leads to vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is the number 1 leading cause of blindness among adults with diabetes. That makes it one of the common eye conditions that require regular vision screening for people in the risk group (diabetics).
Managing diabetes through blood sugar control, diabetic eye exams, and timely treatment can prevent or delay the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy treatment relies on medications and laser therapy. In advanced cases, patients may need to undergo a vitrectomy (a surgical procedure to remove blood and scar tissue from the retina).
6. Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is also one of the common eye conditions. Dry eye naturally occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. Leading to dryness, redness, discomfort, and blurry vision.
The cause of dry eye syndrome relays various factors, for example - aging, hormonal changes, environmental factors, certain medications, and underlying health conditions.
Management of dry eyes involves using artificial tears, avoiding triggers such as dry or windy environments, taking breaks during prolonged screen time, and taking good care of overall health.
Oftentimes, mild cases of dry eyes resolve by taking a good rest or using eye drops and medications. In some severe cases, though, your eye doctor might recommend other procedures and treatments like punctal plugs.
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is a conjunctiva inflammation. This is one of the most common eye conditions which cause pain and discomfort but do not have a direct damaging effect on your eyesight.
Pink eye causes may be bacterial or viral infections, allergies, or irritants. The symptoms to look out for are tissue and eye redness, itching, tearing, discharge, and discomfort.
The best way to protect yourself from getting pink eye is to put personal hygiene first. Don't touch your eye with unclean hands, and avoid: allergy triggers, dirty water, and dirty pillows and sheets.
Treatment for conjunctivitis depends on the underlying cause. It may include antibiotics or antiviral medications for infections, artificial tears, and cool compresses. Consult an eye doctor to find the best treatment.
If you like this quick read about the most common eye conditions and you find it helpful, let us know in the comments. Drop a line about your experience with these eye problems or suggest other topics you want us to cover!
Check out more of our medical blogs about eye health.
All medical facts are checked by Atanas Bogoev M.D.