9 Common Eye Problems

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    Spotting Eye Problems Early
    Eye problems often hide in plain sight, damaging your delicate visual system before you notice any symptoms. Regular eye exams can help your eye doctor spot common eye conditions and treat them before you lose vision. Here are some of the problems they look for—and the therapies that relieve them.

  • Glasses and Contacts
    1. Refractive Errors
    Nearsighted, farsighted, or both, these vision-blurring disorders affect more Americans than any other eye problem. They occur when the shape of the eye interferes with the focus of light on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Heredity plays a major role in these vision problems. The loss of focus that comes with aging—presbyopia—also falls into this category. Glasses, contacts, or laser surgery could improve vision for 11 million people nationwide.

  • Mature man having eye exam
    2. Age-Related Macular Degeneration
    Over time, cells in your macula—a small, critical area of your retina responsible for sharp vision—can break down, causing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Blurriness and dark spots may appear in the center of your vision. In one type of AMD, called wet AMD, new blood vessels grow under the macula. This makes straight lines appear wavy. Supplements, medications, or laser treatment can slow AMD’s progress and preserve your remaining sight.

  • At the Optician
    3. Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
    Also called “lazy eye,” amblyopia is the most common vision problem in children. Amblyopia is a healthy eye that cannot see. Communication problems between the brain and the eyes reduce vision in just one eye. This can occur because of the eye’s position or because one eye has a more severe refractive error than the other. Patches or eye drops can temporarily weaken the strong eye, restoring balanced vision. Because of how the visual system develops, amblyopia should be treated during childhood.

  • Eye exam
    4. Glaucoma
    A normal eye continually produces and leaks out a small amount of fluid each day. For reasons doctors don’t understand, most people with glaucoma develop a blockage in this drainage system. Pressure builds up in the eye, damaging the optic nerve that carries signals between the retina and brain. Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness. Complete eye exams can catch it early and eye drops or other treatments protect your sight.

  • Female eyes
    5. Diabetic Retinopathy
    Your retinas contain many tiny blood vessels. If your blood sugar stays high over time, these vessels swell and weaken, interfering with your vision. You might not notice this at first—that’s why everyone with diabetes should have a complete eye exam every year. As retinopathy develops, you might see spots, flashing lights, or lose part or all of your vision.

  • young adult male rubbing eye
    6. Eye Allergies
    Allergies occur when the tissues in your eyes react to something in the air around you. Pollen, mold and dust often trigger this response. It makes your eyes produce a substance called histamine, which causes redness, swelling, itching, teariness and burning. Avoiding allergens—for instance, by checking pollen counts before heading outside—and using special eye drops can ease your symptoms.

  • Mature male patient consulting with optometrist
    7. Cataracts
    Like the lens of a camera, your eye’s lens focuses your vision. Clumps of protein called cataracts can cloud your lenses, blurring the images that reach your brain. Most cataracts occur with aging. But they can also develop after eye surgery, as a result of eye injuries, or even before birth. If cataracts interfere with your daily life, you can have surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial one.

  • Your Blood Vessels
    8. Pink Eye
    Pink, itchy eyes are the hallmark sign of this common infection. More accurately called conjunctivitis, it affects the conjunctiva, the thin, clear tissue that lines your eyelid and the whites of your eyes. Viruses, bacteria, allergens and irritants, such as smog, can cause pink eye. Viral and bacterial pink eye spread quickly from person to person. Sometimes, the infection clears up over time. For severe cases caused by bacteria, you may need antibiotic eye drops.

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    9. Dry Eye
    With each blink, lubricating tears spread over the surface of your eye. But for a variety of reasons, some people don’t produce enough tears or their tears evaporate too quickly. Dry eyes can also manifest as part of a larger medical condition like rheumatoid arthritis. Mild cases cause irritation and difficulty using a computer or reading. Eventually, inflammation of the eye can lead to pain, ulcers or scars on the cornea. Lubricating eye drops, medications, and changes to your lifestyle—such as avoiding contact lenses—can help.

9 Common Eye Problems

About The Author

  1. Common eye disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html
  2. Eye allergy treatment. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/allergies-treatment
  3. Eye health tips. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basic_information/eye_health_tips.htm
  4. Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute. https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts
  5. Facts About Amblyopia. National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute. https://nei.nih.gov/health/amblyopia/amblyopia_guide
  6. Facts About Cataract. National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute. https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts
  7. Facts About Dry Eye. National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute. https://nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye
  8. Facts About Glaucoma. National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute. https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts
  9. Facts About Refractive Errors. National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute. https://nei.nih.gov/health/errors/errors
  10. Macular Degeneration Treatment: How is AMD Treated? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-treatment
  11. Pink Eye: Usually Mild and Easy to Treat. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/features/conjunctivitis/
  12. Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your eyes healthy. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/prevent-diabetes-problems/Pages/k...
  13. Refractive Errors. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/refractiveerrors.html
  14. What Are Eye Allergies? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/allergies
  15. What Is Dry Eye? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-dry-eye


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Last Review Date: 2018 Apr 15
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