Common Vision Conditions and Diseases
Myopia – Myopia is the medical term for what most people call nearsightedness. With this condition you can see objects clearly only when they are closer, but when objects are further away you cannot focus on them. Myopia usually develops in childhood though it can sometimes develop in early adulthood. Myopia does have some genetic tendencies, so if your parents are nearsighted you are at a greater risk for also being nearsighted. Severe myopia can sometimes be associated with more serious condition such as retinal detachment.
Myopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Sometimes Myopia can gradually worsen throughout life. It can also be corrected by LASIK surgery.
Hyperopia – Hyperopia is more commonly known as farsightedness. People with farsightedness are more able to focus on objects that are further away, but with higher levels of farsightedness, even that is difficult. They also can have difficulty focusing on objects which are very close, and this becomes worse as a person gets older. A family history of hyperopia is a risk factor for developing hyperopia. Often babies are born with hyperopia, but they can usually out-grow the condition as the eye develops into the correct shape.
Hyperopia is corrected with glasses or contact lenses. There are also surgical options for hyperopia.
Presbyopia – As people get older, usually around their mid to late 40s, presbyopia can develop. Presbyopia is a natural consequence of the aging process; it is the inability to focus on objects near the eye. People will often notice that it is harder to read or to use the computer. People will usually start to hold reading matierials farther away than normal, and suffer from eye strain, fatigue, and headaches while reading. Even if you have never had vision problems before, you can still develop presbyopia.
Presbyopia is treated with glasses or contact lenses.
Astigmatism – Sometimes the cornea is irregularly shaped, causing the eye to focus an object on two different areas of the retina. This is known as astigmatism. For the cornea to bend light correctly, it should be dome shaped, like a basketball, for people with an astigmatism, their corneas are shaped more like a football. This causes a distorted view when looking at objects. The cause is unknown, but is often associated with myopia and hyperopia and usually occurs from birth. It may be hereditary or it may be caused by factors such as pressure on the cornea.
Mild astigmatism does not require treatment, but for more severe cases astigmatism is treated with glasses or contact lenses. Lasik surgery can also correct for astigmatism.
Amblyopia – Amblyopia is most times referred to as “lazy eye.” The brain and eyes have to work together to produce clear vision. If the brain favors one eye, usually due to poor vision in the other eye, the weaker eye tends to wander inward or outward. Eventually, the brain may ignore the signals received from the weaker eye. Lazy eye is the leading cause of decreased vision among children, and is fairly common, affecting about two to three of every 100 children.
Symptoms are: an eye that wanders inward or outward, eyes that may not appear to work together, and poor depth perception. Left untreated, lazy eye can cause permanent vision loss. In fact, lazy eye is the most common cause of single-eye vision impairment in young and middle-aged adults.
Milder cases of amblyopia can be treated with glasses. With more severe cases, treatment can consist of patching the stronger eye, eyedrops, or even surgery.
Computer Vision Syndrome – Computer vision syndrome (CVS) affects three out of four computer users. It is a series of symptoms related to extended periods of computer usage. Computer vision syndrome can appear as a variety of symptoms. Headaches, eyestrain, neck and backaches, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, double vision, excessive watering and dry or irritated eyes are all possible symptoms. Anyone who uses a computer can develop CVS. Your vision, your computer and the environment where you work are all factors, which can lead to CVS.
Computer vision syndrome is treated with glasses. A light tint and an anti-glare coating help reduce eye-strain associated with computer use.
Conjunctivitis – There are three common types of conjunctivitis: allergic, bacterial, and viral.
1) Allergic conjunctivitis is an allergic reaction of the eyes. Common allergens are pollen, dust, pet dander, smoke, mold, and air pollution. There are over 22 million people in the United States that suffer from allergy eyes. Symptoms include itching, watering, redness, burning, and sensitivity to light. There are several eye drops your doctor can prescribe that can help alleviate your symptoms. It is very important for you to see your optometrist to determine whether it truly is allergies or a more serious problem.
2) Bacterial conjunctivitis is more commonly known as pink eye. The symptoms tend to be the same as allergic conjunctivitis. The main difference is that pink eye is often characterized by a discharge from the eye. The eyes will frequently be matted shut when first awaking in the morning. This type of conjunctivitis is highly contagious. . If you are a contact lens wearer, it is best to dispose of the contaminated contact lens and start with a fresh lens once the infection is gone. In order to clear the infection, you need to see your optometrist to be prescribed an eyedrop.
3) Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, therefore there is no specific treatment for it. However, sometimes you will be prescribed an antibiotic to prevent bacteria from taking hold in the eye tissues inflamed by the virus. The symptoms of a viral conjunctivitis tend to be the same as allergic conjunctivitis. This type generally does not present any type of discharge, although it can. Viral conjunctivitis, like bacterial, is also contagious.
Only a doctor can diagnose which type of conjuctivitis you are suffering from. It is important if you have any of the above symptoms to call your optometrist so that they can diagnose the disease and begin the appropriate treatment immediately.
Dry eye syndrome – Dry eye syndrome is corneal and conjuntival dryness due to deficient tear production. The tears your eyes normally produce are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears. Dry eyes can result from the normal aging process, exposure to environmental conditions, less frequent blinking, or from medications.
The most common symptoms are stinging, itchy, scratchy and uncomfortable eyes. Sometimes it feels as if something is in your eye. When your eyes are dry the irritation to that will sometimes temporarily produce more tears as a natural reflex to comfort the eye. This will result in excessive watering – even though the eyes are really dry on a baseline level. Dry eyes are the most common reason seen for excess watering.
The most frequent treatment for dry eyes is the use of artificial tears, or for more severe dry eyes ointments can be used. More permanent treatment for dry eye syndrome is the insertion of punctal plugs, small silicone plugs inserted into your puncti. Dr Guenthner specializes in the treatment of dry eye syndrome and the use of punctal plugs to relieve symptoms of dry eye.
Stye – A stye is an infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes. While they produce no lasting damage, styes can be quite painful. The first signs of a stye are tenderness, pain and redness in the affected area. Later symptoms include itching, swelling, watering of the eye, sensitivity to light and discomfort when blinking. A yellowish bump develops in the affected area. Styes can be triggered by stress or poor nutrition. Using the same razor near the eyes that you use to shave your mustache can also spread bacteria and lead to styes or other eye infections.
While most styes will drain on their own, this process can be accelerated by the application of a hot or warm compress or by pulling out the eyelash. While a stye is technically a pimple and can be popped, we do not recommend this due to the close proximity to the eye. With treatment, styes will normally resolve within one week.
Glaucoma – Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, affecting millions of Americans. The loss of sight from glaucoma is usually preventable if you seek treatment early enough. Glaucoma is a disease generally, but not always, characterized by increased intraocular pressure that results in damage to the optic nerve and the retinal nerve fibers. The higher the pressure in your eye, the greater the chance of damage to the optic nerve. When nerve fibers are damaged, blind spots in your vision start to develop. These blind spots are sometimes not noticed until much damage has already been done to the optic nerve. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results.
Early detection is the key to preventing blindness caused by glaucoma. Symptoms of glaucoma include tunnel vision, loss of peripheral vision, blurred vision, severe eye pain, headache, rainbow halos around lights, nausea, and vomiting. If you have any of these symptoms, call our office immediately, glaucoma needs to be treated immediately to prevent blindness.
Diabetic Retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that results from damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, however, diabetic retinopathy can result in blindness. Diabetic retinopathy can develop in anyone who has type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes, and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy. To protect your vision, take prevention seriously. Start by carefully controlling your blood sugar level and scheduling yearly eye exams.
The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are spots or dark strings floating in your vision, blurred or fluctuating vision, dark or empty areas in your vision, poor night vision, impaired color vision, and vision loss. Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty, or hazy.
The best treatment is to prevent the development of diabetic retinopathy. It is important to control your blood sugar to lower your risk. If you do develop diabetic retinopathy, it can be treated by laser treatement or surgery.
Cataracts – A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye, the part of the eye that is responsible for focusing light and producing clear images. The lens works a lot like a camera, focusing light onto the retina. The lens also allows you to see clearly both up close and far away. Although cataracts can result from many different conditions, the most frequent cause is the natural aging process. Cataracts vary from extremely small areas of cloudiness to large opaque areas that cause a noticeable loss of vision. Other causes may include, injury, chronic eye disease, and diabetes. Cataracts can take a few months to several years to develop.
When a cataract forms, light cannot enter the eyes as easily and your vision becomes blurry. The cataract may start out small, and at first have little or no effect on your vision. As the cataract develops symptoms include: trouble driving at night due to glare and halos from oncoming headlights, colors appear faded and dull, haze over vision, cloudy vision, normal lighting appearing too bright or too dim.
Cataracts are treated with surgery. Annual visits to your optometrist are imporant to monitor the growth of your cataracts and determine when surgery is needed.
Macular Degeneration – Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness for people age 55 and older. There are an estimated 10 million Americans living with this incurable eye disease. Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the macula. This area is the area of the eye that records the images that we see and sends them from the optic nerve to the brain. The macula is responsible for central vision and controls our ability to see fine detail, recognize faces, and our ability to drive a car.
Symptoms include: a gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly, objects appear to be distorted in shape and straight lines appear wavy or crooked, a loss of clear vision, a dark area appearing in the center of vision. If you experience any of these symptoms you should call our office immediately and schedule an appointment with the doctor.
Currently there is no treatment for “dry” macular degeneration. If you develop “wet” macular degeneration, it is important that it is discovered early. Immediate laser treatment is necessary in attempt to save your vision. There is no treatment for Dry Macular Degeneration, although certain vitamin and mineral supplements have been shown to slow its progression.