Blindness is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to us. Yet, we all tend to take our eyes for granted.
The 4 most common causes of vision loss are treatable eye diseases. Don’t wait until blurry vision reminds you that it is time to get your eyes checked. Regular checkups are vital for detecting problems early and getting treatment.
There are several ways that your eyes can tell you that something is wrong. Read on to find out when and why you should visit an eye specialist as soon as possible.
Important parts of the eye
Your eyes are amazing and complex organs. However, you don’t need to know their intricate workings to take good care of them. Still, it helps to know the basics so you can identify any problems early on.
The eye is made up of the following:
- Cornea – clear tissue right in the front of the eye
- Pupil – dark hole in the middle of the eye
- Iris – colored circular shaped section around the pupil
- Lens – the small clear disk inside the eye which focuses light onto the back of the eye
- Retina – lining at the back of the eye
- Optical Nerve – transmits messages from the retina to the brain
- Macula – an area of the retina which is responsible for focusing on fine details
- Vitreous – Clear, jelly-like substance which fills the center of the eye
Injury or damage to any of these parts will affect your vision. It could also lead to permanent loss of sight unless it is taken care of quickly.
Read on for 10 warning signs that something is amiss with your eyes. If you notice any of the following symptoms, consult an eye specialist without delay.
Blurring and focusing problems
Blurry vision or difficulty in focusing on objects can be a symptom of various health issues.
Not all of these are eye-related. However, it’s a good idea to start your investigation at an eye specialist. This especially important if you suddenly develop blurred vision, if it comes and goes, or if it is limited to one eye.
These symptoms can be caused by the following eye-related problems:
Age-related degeneration of the Maculus occurs gradually and is a normal sign of aging.
Over time, the Macula loses its ability to focus properly. You may notice that you are struggling to read. You may also not be able to see as far as you once could as you age.
An eye specialist will be able to prescribe spectacles or contact lenses to relieve the blurriness and prevent further damage.
Astigmatism is usually also associated with age. It is caused by an irregularly shaped cornea. Glass, contact lenses or refractive eye surgery can prevent this condition from worsening.
Cataracts are a painless clouding of the lens and usually associated with age. They may also be caused by diabetes, trauma to the eye, excessive UV light exposure and some medications.
Regular check-ups with an eye specialist will ensure that these are picked up early. They can be treated with eyeglasses or magnifying lenses.
Surgery is a popular option and involves replacing the faulty lens with an artificial one. Cataract surgery is usually free of complications. Still, you should discuss any possible drawbacks with your eye specialist first.
Glaucoma occurs in a variety of guises and is a very serious eye disease. It is caused by increased pressure within the eye which affects the optic nerve and leads to loss of vision.
There are two main types of Glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most commonplace type of glaucoma.
It is painless, and your eye specialist will routinely check your eye pressure during an optical examination in order to detect it early.
Angle-closure glaucoma occurs suddenly and results in pain and redness in the eye.
By the time glaucoma starts to affect your vision it is usually too late to correct it. It is estimated that up to 4 million people in the US may have glaucoma and be unaware of it.
If it is detected early enough, Glaucoma can be halted by means of eye drops, laser treatment or surgery.
If you have a family history of glaucoma or are of African-American descent, your chances of developing this condition are greater.
It is imperative that you stay up to date with your eye examinations in these instances.
This condition is accompanied by a conical-shaped bulge in the front of the eye. It is caused by weakness in the structure of the cornea. Over time, this leads to pressure on the eye and makes it difficult for the eye to focus.
Keratoconus is usually corrected with rigid contact lenses or a cornea transplant.
Visual disturbances may take the form of obstructed vision, floaters or flashes of light.
Floaters appear as floating spots in your field of vision and are caused by condensation on the surface of the eye. They are usually caused by aging and are harmless and untreatable. In fact, they ususally fade over time.
If you experience pain at the same time, get your eyes checked, as they can indicate a larger problem.
Sudden flashes of light followed by floaters can be a sign of retinal detachment or retinal tear.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek help from your eye specialist as soon as possible. Urgent treatment is important to minimize loss of vision in these instances.
Retinal detachment or tear
Retinal detachment happens when the tissue at the back of the eye separates from its underlying structures.
This is usually a painless occurrence. Still, it can cause the appearance of a curtain being drawn over the eye. It may also cause flashing lights or floaters. In more serious case, the retina may tear.
Nearsighted adults aged from 25 to 50 and elderly patients after a cataract operation are at the highest risk of this condition.
Laser surgery is the only treatment for retinal detachment.
If you suffer from headaches frequently, it could be that your eyes are trying to tell you something.
Changes in vision often progress gradually — so you may not notice them at first.
Reoccurring headaches can be a sure sign that you are straining your eyes trying to focus. A visit to your eye specialist could reveal the cause of your headaches.
Eye pain, fatigue or strain
Everybody suffers from painful, fatigued or strained eyes from time to time. This is especially true after a late night, during allergy season, or thanks to colds and flu.
However, ongoing eye pain can be a sign of bigger issues, especially if you find it painful to move your eyes.
These symptoms could mean that you have an eye infection or be an early warning sign of vision change.
If your eyes often feel tired after driving or reading, it’s probably time for spectacles. So, go and see an eye specialist before the problem worsens.
Symptoms of an eye infection could be any discharge from the eye, swelling of the eyelids, itchiness, redness or a pink tinge to the whites of your eyes.
Some of these infections can be highly contagious. So, see an eye specialist as soon as possible to prevent affecting other members of your family.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Pink eye is caused by bacterial or viral infection and causes a thick yellow discharge from the eye. When you first wake in the morning, you may even find it difficult to open your eyes thanks to this material sticking your eyelashes together.
Typically, the eyes will be red and inflamed. You should see your eye specialist or doctor who will prescribe an antibiotic ointment or drops to relieve the symptoms.
Inflammation of the outer or inner eyelid accompanied by burning, itching and flaky skin at the base of the lashes is known as blepharitis.
This is usually caused by blocked oil glands at the base of the eyelids.
Frequent cleaning with a mixture of water and baby shampoo usually resolves the issue quickly. Still, see your eye specialist to ensure that more intensive treatment in the form of antibiotics or steroids is not needed.
Chalazion (Eyelid Cyst)
A cyst in one a gland of the eyelid can become clogged and cause swelling and pain.
These are usually treated with warm compresses. However, if they cause changes in vision or recur frequently, they may be removed surgically.
Excessive watering of the eyes is usually caused by an overproduction of tears. It can cause sticky, sore eyes and blurred vision. Your optometrist should be able to assist with a solution.
A white area in the cornea is a sign of a small ulcer in this area of the eye, usually caused by infection.
People who wear contact lenses are at higher risk of these ulcers as fungus and bacteria can become trapped between the eye and the lens.
If your eyes are extremely painful and red, you could have a corneal ulcer.
Your eye specialist can prescribe antibiotics and pain medication to help eliminate the infection.
Squinting in one or both eyes can be corrected with eyeglasses. If squinting is accompanied by an eye turn (lazy eye) is a sure sign that you need to see your eye specialist. Especially in children, these conditions can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.
Crossed eyes is a permanent condition where the eyes look inward towards the nose or track differently.
Strabismus is treated by using an eye patch on the stronger eye, exercises, and even surgery.
healthy eyes should be light sensitive to a degree. Still, if you find your eyes are suddenly more sensitive to light than usual, you should get an eye examination. This will help you to check for infection or an eye disorder, such as uveitis.
Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye which houses the veins and arteries which support the eye.
Apart from light sensitivity, uveitis of the eye usually involves redness, irritation, blurred, spotted vision, and pain. Uveitis is most often caused by trauma to the eye, infection and rheumatologic diseases elsewhere in the body.
Visit your eye specialist who can prescribe anti-inflammatory or antibiotic drops to provide relief.
Persistent redness in your eyes or red vein-like shapes in your eyes, you could be developing retinopathy.
Those who suffer from diabetes often experience problems with their blood vessels. The blood vessels in the retina can also be affected by this disease.
Non-proliferative retinopathy is a mild form of bleeding in the retina which causes leakage of blood or serum and is known as a wet retina.
Proliferative retinopathy occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow on the retina. Then, they blend into the vitreous in the center of the eye and cause visual impairment.
Laser treatment or surgery are the only options for these conditions.
This may seem like a long shot, but fatigue can be caused by the constant struggle to focus.
In a similar way that your eyes can cause headaches, they may also cause you to feel fatigued easily.
If you have eliminated all other causes for chronic fatigue, pay your eye specialist a visit. They may be able to shed some light on the matter.
If you haven’t been to see your eye specialist in years
Two of the most common visual problems that people experience are near-sightedness and far-sightedness.
Near-sightedness (myopia) makes it difficult to see objects that are far away. It is caused by the cornea having too much curvature.
Far-sightedness is the opposite and caused by an abnormally flat cornea.
Both of these are usually caused by genetics or age. They may be successfully managed by visiting your specialist regularly. By ensuring that your eyeglasses are the correct strength for your eyes, you can slow down the deterioration of your eyes.
Laser surgery is very successful in treating both of these conditions.
Always use eye protection when necessary to prevent injury.
Sunglasses can help to prevent UV rays from damaging your eyes.
By far the best way to protect your precious eyesight is to get your eyes checked at least once every two years up to the age of 60, and every year after that.
If you notice anything untoward with your eyesight, get in touch with an eye specialiststraight away. We are here to help.