Beginning about age 40, when reading at closer distances begins to become a struggle, or having an elderly parent lose vision, people become concerned about eye health. But the truth is that vision and eye health are a lifelong concern. For those lucky enough to have two sighted eyes, the vision in each eye is precious. And many of the common diseases and injuries involving the eye can cause permanent and irreversible vision loss. Those who have only one functioning eye have to be even more cautious.
Some of the common conditions that affect eye health and can cause vision difficulties include:
The retina is the inner lining of the eye, and contains the rods and cones responsible for seeing color and light. Conditions that cause damage to the retina can result in severe vision loss, because the retina serves as the "film" to the "camera" of the eye.
- Diabetic Retinopathy - Damage to the tiny retinal blood vessels results in leakage of blood and possible scarring of the retina.
- Macular Degeneration - Thinning and drusen of the retina (Dry Macular Degeneration) and Bleeding from "neovascular" blood vessels (Wet Macular Degeneration) can cause permanent vision loss.
- Retinal Detachment - Can occur spontaneously or after trauma, if untreated, results in severe vision loss.
- Retinal Artery and Vein Occlusions - Blockage of incoming or exiting vessels results in bleeding, swelling, and possible stroke of the retina.
- Macular Pucker - Also known as macular gliosis, is a wrinkle that can cause mild or severe vision loss. May require surgery.
Formerly believed to be only a problem with high pressure inside the eye, glaucoma is now known to be a disease of the optic nerve in the back of the eye, which sometimes is associated with elevated eye pressure.
- Primary Open Angle Glaucoma - The most common form of glaucoma, with a wide opening between the iris and cornea. Treated with eyedrops, laser or surgery.
- Pseudoexfoliative Glaucoma - Patients with pseudoexfoliation secrete a white glycoprotein in one or both eyes that can cause elevated eye pressure and weakening of the zonular ligaments that hold the eye's natural lens in position.
- Pigmentary Glaucoma - Caused by Pigmentary Dispersion Syndrome, in which the iris bows backward, scraping against the zonular ligaments and shedding pigment particules inside the eye which may block the eye's drain and raise eye pressure.
- Narrow Angle Glaucoma - Common in the East and other parts of the world, there is a narrow space between the iris and lens. May require laser or surgical correction as a first line treatment.
Opacification of the clear lens of the internal eye, which may cloud vision over the course of days or years.
- Age-Related Cataracts - The most common form of cataracts, usually occurs in age 60 or older.
- Traumatic Cataracts - May result from blunt or sharp trauma to the eye and can progress within days.
- Inflammatory Cataracts - Associated with anterior uveitis or steroid eyedrop therapy, can progress rapidly.
- Diabetic Cataracts - Typically a "posterior subscapsular" form of cataract, can progress within weeks.
- Advantages to Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery
The cornea is the nearly invisible clear front surface of the eye. If it becomes swollen or there is scarring, the cornea loses clarity and vision declines.
- Keratoconus - Irregular distortion of the cornea occurring during teenage years or adulthood, felt to be due to weakening of the collagen matrix that causes thinning and blurred vision. Can be slowed with collagen cross-linking therapy.
- Corneal Scars - Scrapes, cuts, metallic foreign bodies, corneal infections and other injuries frequently leave corneal scars. If these scars are in the middle of the cornea overlying the pupil, they can reduce vision.
- Shingles Infections of Cornea - Herpes zoster is the recurrence of the Chicken Pox virus that never leaves the body. When it grows back on the nerves that provide sensation to the cornea, it can cause swelling, pain and scarring. Antiviral therapy must be given. Zoster immunization injections are now recommended for people 50 years and older.
- Pterygium - A growth of white, fibrous tissue over the inner corner of the eye, due to exposure of sun and wind, and possibly dry eye. If painful or affecting vision, a pterygium can be surgically removed.
- Corneal Abrasion - A superficial scratch of the eye. Typically heals within hours or days, but because of the lack of blood vessels on the cornea, the healing may be incomplete (corneal erosions) or become infected.
- Bacterial Corneal Infection - Generally associated with a break in the surface epithelial cells, bacterial infections are an eye emergency, requiring frequent use of potent antibiotic therapy.
- Deficient saltwater layer
- Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
- Sjogren's Disease
- Blue Light Exposure
- Eyeglass Correction of Vision
- Contact Lens Correction of Vision
- Refractive Surgery Correction of Vision