Common Vision Problems
Common eye problems are often neglected as they generally start manifesting through mild symptoms, such as eye pain, headaches or blurred vision that don’t trigger severe problems at first. But without adequate treatment, these issues may lead to very serious complications including blindness, so knowing how the common vision problems appear, what are the risk factors and how are they handled is surely important for protecting your eyes.
According to the National Institutes of Health, over 80,000 Americans lost their sight after suffering from glaucoma and over 20 million people in the United States are affected by dry eye. Over 4 million Americans aged 40 and older suffer from diabetic retinopathy and over 2 million suffer from glaucoma, half of them without even being aware of their problem.
These are definitely worrying facts, highlighting the danger behind the most common eye problems affecting youths and adults alike. So let’s take a look at each of the conditions included in this list and see how you can recognize them.
This eye problem manifests through the inflammation of the conjunctiva, layer of tissue lining the inner surface of eyelids and covering the sclera – the white part of the ocular globes. Affecting either one or both eyes, this condition is quite common among kids but appears in adults as well, being often referred to as “pink eye”.
Symptoms associated with conjunctivitis are itching, excessive tearing, a burning sensation and a gritty feeling in the affected eye, swollen eyelids and discharge. The inflamed conjunctiva triggers an increased sensitivity to light as well, so it’s quite a disturbing problem if no treatment is applied.
There are three different types of conjunctivitis, varying depending on the trigger: infectious, caused by viruses or bacteria, allergic and chemical. Infectious conjunctivitis can occur due to streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria naturally living inside your respiratory tract or on your skin. At the same time, the bacterial form of this ailment can be triggered by a poor hygiene, heavy makeup products, by physical contact or insects.
Viral conjunctivitis is caused by viruses responsible for the occurrence of common cold, which are easily transmitted through cough and sneezing. Once reaching inside the body, they spread along the mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract, lungs and along the conjunctiva as well.
Allergic conjunctivitis are common eye problems especially for people dealing with seasonal allergies, while the chemical form of this ailment is caused by exposure to irritants like air pollution, noxious chemicals and chlorine present in swimming pools.
Read more about eye infections and conjunctivitis.
This inflammatory condition affects the eyelids, making them itchy and irritated and triggering the formation of small, dandruff-like scales along the eyelashes. Just like conjunctivitis, this problem can be caused by bacteria but it can also be a consequence of certain skin problems, such as acne or dandruff. Although not contagious and not listed among the most threatening eye problems, blepharitis is very disturbing and uncomfortable.
When your body doesn’t produce sufficient tears for lubricating the eyes properly, unpleasant symptoms such as itching, blurring, redness and pain occur. Tears are absolutely essential for ensuring a clear vision and maintaining the health of the cornea, as they remove all the foreign matters in the eye and keep the surfaces of the globes perfectly smooth and clean, significantly reducing the risk of infection. Left untreated, common eye problems such as dry eyes may lead to complications like cornea damage, decrease of visual acuity and vision loss.
The opposite of dry eyes, excessive tearing may also indicate a serious problem such as a blocked tear duct or an infection, both requiring immediate help from a professional. People dealing with excessive tearing are hypersensitive to light, temperature changes and wind, accusing pain and discomfort whenever they come in contact with these factors. Sometimes the problem can be easily solved by simply protecting the eyes with sunglasses but in other cases medical treatment is required.
Glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy
This group of eye disorders is more present in people with diabetes, although healthy people may also develop the mentioned ailments. In glaucoma, fluid builds up inside the eye, causing am increased intraocular pressure which leads consequently to headaches, blurry vision, watery eyes, pain and partial loss of sight.
Cataracts appears when the lens gets opaque due to an inadequate diet or to imbalances such as those present in diabetes, but it can also be triggered by ocular trauma and inflammation, surgery, prolonged exposure to light and ultraviolet rays, smoking and frequent use of steroids. Being given that the lens is responsible for focusing and seeing images clearly, its opacification causes serious problems thus it should be a reason of concern.
Last, diabetic retinopathy occurs in people dealing with this autoimmune disorder and it causes an altered blood flow to the retina, as the blood vessels network supplying the retinal tissue with blood gets damaged. The progressive damage of the retina leads to blurred vision, to dark or empty spots appearing in the center of the visual field when looking at something, to floaters and swelling, this last symptom being very dangerous as it may lead to blindness.
Other common eye problems include myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia and strabismus, all of them caused by anatomical abnormalities of the cornea or pathological conditions of muscles surrounding the ocular globes.