Blurred Vision Problems
Refractive Error is when light coming into the eye does not focus properly on the retina (back wall of the eye). Types of refractive error are hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism (light being split into multiple focus points). Refractive error is created by the cornea (front curvature of the eye) being too steep or too flat to focus light properly on the retina. Eyeglasses and contact lenses correct refractive error by refocusing light on the retina properly. Laser Eye Surgery corrects refractive error by reshaping the cornea.
Accommodative Disorders is a group of problems that describe the eyes inability to properly adjust focus. Every time a person looks near or far away, they use a muscle in the eye to refocus. This muscle responds like other muscles in the body, and it can fatigue, cramp, and be inflexible. When the muscle does not flex and relax properly, a person can experience blurred vision, delayed focusing, and eyestrain. Accommodative disorders can be treated with corrective eyewear and/or eye exercises (vision therapy).
Presbyopia is loss of adjustable focus due to aging. As a person gets older, they gradually lose the ability to focus at close range. This occurs because the lens, inside the eye, cannot continue to stretch and change shape. Although the amount of focusing diminishes with every year older a person gets, most people do not notice the problem until they reach their late thirties or early forties when their reserves are disappearing. When presbyopia begins to occur, a person will have to hold things further to see, need more light to see, experience delayed refocusing, and get eyestrain or headaches when doing desk work. Presbyopia can be corrected with reading glasses, bifocals, progressive lenses, and multi-focal contact lenses.
Vergence Disorders is a group of problems that describe the eyes inability to remain properly aligned. Every time a person looks in a different direction or at a different distance, eye muscles have to realign the eyes and keep images from both eyes superimposed in the brain. If eye muscles are weak and work inefficiently, a person will experience blurred vision, double vision, eyestrain, headaches, loss of place while reading, floating or moving words while reading, labored or slow reading, reading mistakes, poor concentration with desk work, reduced depth perception, and misjudgments of speed. Vergence disorders are treated with lenses, prisms, and eye exercises (vision therapy).
Tracking Disorders is a group of problems that describe the eyes in ability to move accurately when following a moving object or while reading. In order for eyes to move and stay on target properly, eye muscles controlling those movements need to be highly coordinated. When a person is unable to coordinate their eye movements, they may see blurry, lose their place while reading, misread words, have reduced reading speed, and make misjudgments while playing sports. Tracking disorders can be treated with corrective eyewear and eye exercises (vision therapy).
External Eye Health Problems
Dry Eye is a condition where the eyes do not stay wet. Either tears are evaporating off the eye too quickly or tear gland production is reduced. When a person has dry eye, the eyes may sting or burn, get red, feel gritty, and have cycles of watering or excessive tearing. The condition worsens with exposure to wind, heat, air conditioning, sunlight/radiation, and chemically polluted air. Dry eye can be the result of abnormal body physiology, aging, exposure to the elements, use of certain medications (antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, hormones), poor hygiene, and contact lens use. An eye examination can determine the severity and cause of the dry eye, and the best way to treat it. Treatment includes better hygiene, environmental changes, protective eyewear, artificial tears, nutritional supplements, medication, and surgery.
An Eye Allergy is a condition where the eyes get irritated from exposure to air borne particles from plants, animals, dust, or chemicals. When suffering from an eye allergy, a person can have red, itchy, sticky, and/or watery eyes. An eye examination can determine the severity and cause of the allergy and the best way to treat it. Treatment for eye allergy includes better hygiene, environmental changes, nutritional supplements, and medication.
An Eye Infection is a condition where the eye gets irritated from exposure to excessive bacteria. When suffering from an eye infection, a person can have redness, pain, light sensitivity, mucous discharge, swelling, and blurred vision. Those suffering an eye infection should seek immediate medical attention to avoid permanent eye damage and/or vision loss. Treatment for an eye infection may include both topical and oral medication. Severe cases may include hospitalization.
A Stye is a condition where a gland in the eyelid gets blocked and infected with bacteria. When suffering from a stye, a person can have a red and painful bump in the eyelid. It is similar to having a pimple; only it is bigger, more painful, and deeper under the skin. Styes should not be treated by squeezing them. This can cause them to get worse. Proper treatment includes hot packs, lid massage, and medication. Untreated styes can spread and lead to a severe infection of the entire eyelid and eye socket requiring hospitalization. To avoid complications, styes should be treated by a doctor as early as possible.
Blepharitis is a condition where the eyelids become irritated from poor lid hygiene or exposure excessive bacteria. When suffering from blepharitis, the margins of the eyelids have redness, swelling, crusty lashes, scaly skin, and itchiness. It certain individuals this can be a long term condition due to unusual body chemistry. Blepharitis is best treated with lid scrubs, hot packs, and in more severe cases medication. Patients should consult with their eye doctor for the proper healthcare regimen.
A Pinquecula is a condition where a bump forms on the white of the eye, usually at the three and nine o’clock positions, adjacent to the colored part (iris). The bump forms on the eye from exposure to the elements: dry air, radiation from the sun, and pollution. They generally occur on people who spend a lot of time outdoors without protection. As the eye heals from repeated irritation, new skin layers on top of old skin forming the bump. Pinqueculas are best treated by keeping the eyes moist with artificial tears, sunglasses, and staying away from pollution. In the beginning stages, there is just redness without the bump. In the late stages, the bump grows over the front of the eye (pterygium) and can interfere with vision. Advance cases require surgical removal. Mild flare-ups can be treated anti-inflammatory medication.
Internal Eye Health Problems
Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure inside the eye is usually elevated and over time causes optic nerve damage. Glaucoma, when undetected and untreated, causes blindness. During an eye examination, both eye pressure and optic nerve damage can be evaluated. Glaucoma can be treated with pressure lowering medication or surgery.
A Cataract is a condition where the lens inside the eye is clouded. As a cataract advances, it gradually blocks vision. A person with cataracts describes their vision as a film over their eye. Cataracts occur primarily due to aging, but also occur due to exposure to sunlight, certain health conditions, medication, and injury. The only treatment for cataracts is surgery. When surgery is performed, vision is restored by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a plastic prescription lens implant.
Macular Degeneration is a condition where the center of the retina (macula) is damaged due to the aging process. Essentially, pigmentation cells in the retina decay and are unable to detect light. As a result, a person with macular degeneration cannot see centrally. This makes it difficult to see faces and to read. Since, peripheral vision is not damaged, mobility is not a problem. Treatment for macular degeneration is limited to vitamin therapy to slow the aging process, and various laser procedures used to prevent blood vessels from leaking fluid into the retina. Patients with Macular Degeneration need magnifiers and special telescopic aids to improve their low vision.
Hypertensive Retinopathy is a condition where the optic nerve and retina become damaged from having elevated blood pressure (hypertension). When a person has high blood pressure that is not well controlled, blood vessels in the eye undergo structural changes which cause bleeding. If severe enough, this will cause optic nerve damage and vision loss. Since high blood pressure can damage the eyes permanently, early detection is crucial. At minimum, individuals with known high blood pressure should have a dilated retinal exam every year. Retinal photography is also recommended to better document and monitor any changes that may be occurring.
Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition where the optic nerve and retina become damaged from having elevated blood sugar levels (diabetes). When a person has blood sugar that is not well controlled, blood vessels in the eye undergo structural changes which cause bleeding. If severe enough, this will cause optic nerve damage and vision loss. Since diabetes can damage the eyes permanently, early detection is crucial. At minimum, individuals with known diabetes should have a dilated retinal exam every year. Retinal photography is also recommended to better document and monitor any changes that may be occurring.