Click to Expand +
Hyperopia, or far-sightedness, causes light to be focused behind the retina. It is more difficult seeing up close than far away for those with far-sightedness. However, distance can become blurry as well if the prescription is significant. Hyperopia can be corrected by glasses, contact lenses, or, in some cases, laser surgery.
To contrast, myopia, or near sightedness, causes light to be focused in front of the retina. Those with myopia have a more difficult time seeing things in the distance than close up. Myopia can be corrected by glasses, contact lenses, or, in some cases, laser surgery.
Astigmatism is the inability of the eyes to bend light evenly through the cornea. The front surface of the eye is shaped more like a football instead of a sphere, like a basketball. Essentially, an astigmatic eye has two prescriptions. Those with astigmatism may experience shadows, and in extreme cases, even double vision. Astigmatism can be corrected by glasses, special contact lenses or, in some cases, laser surgery.
Presbyopia (or “old eyes”) often occurs around the age of 40. Some notice that at this age, reading becomes more blurry, especially in dim light. In addition, some may notice that arms need to be a little bit longer. Prescription glasses will help make near vision easier.
Keratoconus is a progressive weakening and bulging of the cornea that often begins in teenaged years to early 20s. Symptoms include fluctuating vision, increased glare, and continual dissatisfaction with glasses. Keratoconus can be treated with soft or hard contact lenses in the early stages. The best way to slow progression of the disease is through a procedure known as cross-linking, in which UV light is used to strengthen the bonds within the cornea.
One of the most common causes of decreased vision in children. The brain essentially shuts off the eye that is turned or that does not see as well, and as a result, vision does not develop properly. Children will not complain about their bad eye, as their brain has adapted to only use the vision out of the good eye. The eye may not develop vision to its fullest potential if this difference is not discovered and treated before the age of 8. Consequently, in rare cases, if both eyes are left untreated, it can prevent the ability to obtain a driver’s licence!
Strabismus refers to an eye that is turned in or out. Most commonly, it is first discovered in infants. The eye can become lazy and never develop adequate vision if left untreated. The lazy eye can sometimes be treated with glasses but will need surgery in more severe cases. Strabismus can also develop later on in life, sometimes due to a blood problem, aneurysm or even a tumor. Any sudden onset of double vision should be seen by an eye care professional as soon as possible.
The macula is the part of the eye responsible for central vision. Any condition that damages this tissue can decrease vision. Macular degeneration can present in two forms; wet and dry. In the dry or early stages, small deposits known as drusen, collect in the macular area and disrupt the integrity of tissue. There is no cure for dry AMD, but studies have shown there are several approaches to slow the progression of the disease. In wet AMD, blood collects behind the macula and causes rapid vision loss. The only way to treat the wet stage is to have an injection in the eye.
Glaucoma causes progressive decay of the optic nerve, the nerve that connects the eye with the brain. At the beginning the loss of side vision is gradual, but it may progress to just tunnel vision if left untreated. Glaucoma is often linked to high pressures in the eyes. Fortunately, the pressures in the eyes can be lowered by taking prescription eye drops or through surgical procedures. Because glaucoma is progressive and irreversible, routine eye exams are important for early detection and prevention.
When blood sugars stay elevated for an extended period of time, small blood vessels in the back of the eye become prone to bleeds. When these vessels leak, vision can become compromised. Significant bleeding must be treated with laser, or in some cases, injections. The eyes are the only organ in the body that allows us to see these small blood vessels. For that reason, yearly eye tests are crucial for people with diabetes. This helps to ensure eye health is stable as well as provide family doctors with an update on the appearance of small blood vessels.
Although it is often not as obvious as diabetic bleeding, high blood pressure can sometimes be detected with careful examination of the retina, the tissue at the back of the eye. Those with high blood pressure may show abnormal blood vessels in the retina. In more extreme cases, high blood pressure can lead to large bleeds in the back of the eye.
A retinal detachment is a sight-threatening medical emergency. In this condition, the retina rips apart from the tissue below (much like ripping off wallpaper). Symptoms include, sudden lightning bolts flashing, dark spots floating, or a curtain or veil blocking some vision. Anyone experiencing one or more of these symptoms should have their eyes checked immediately by an eye care professional. Delayed treatment may result in permanent vision loss.
Sometimes white circles may develop around the cornea. This can be an indication of high cholesterol levels and often warrants updated blood work. This is just another example of how our eyes can tell us so much about our general health!