By the age of 40, 1.3 million people are diagnosed as legally blind. Nearly three million have “low vision” by age 40. For many, these vision disturbances are preventable by treating underlying conditions.
Do you have a visual disturbance? Are you struggling with retaining focus, missing things others don’t, or eye discomfort? You should probably see a specialist, even if you think you have perfect vision.
Vision problems can appear even without any family history.
This is a primary driver of visual disturbances across the globe. Eyestrain is on the rise, namely digital eyestrain. This is a form of eye strain that comes specifically from looking at screens for long hours.
Smartphones, tablets, and computer screens all emit large amounts of artificial blue light. This density of blue light far exceeds the levels found in natural light. This is bad because blue light penetrates the deepest into the back of the retina.
The result is eyes feeling tired, dry, irritated, and blurry vision. The remedy is simple, expose your eyes to less blue light. Special glasses, night mode settings, and frequent eye breaks.
Start by taking 20-second breaks every 20 minutes to focus at a distance of at least 20 feet away. This method helps because staring at screens close up strains the eye muscles while looking into the distance relaxes them.
You might actually experience red eyes when your eyes are strained. This is the result of inflamed blood vessels in your sclera (white part of the eyes). A lack of sleep, allergies, and alcohol can all affect the tiny blood vessels and cause them to expand enough to become visible.
There are different degrees of redness, as well. An injury to the eye and its surroundings can cause a different type of redness. Other common causes include conjunctivitis, dry/cold weather, and too much sun exposure.
Usually, non-prescription eye drops are enough to help clear up red eyes.
Vision problems often make their presence known in low-light conditions. At night, it is often difficult for drivers with vision problems to see clearly. Night blindness is a blanket term that can include a variety of problems.
Nearsightedness, trouble focusing on objects, cataracts, and eye fatigue all contribute to difficulty seeing at night. For some, they may have a congenital disease that surgery can’t treat. We’ll cover some of those rare diseases later.
People often associate lazy eye with an eyelid that rests halfway closed. Lazy eye that affects your vision is known as amblyopia. This is an eye development issue where one eye has weaker eye muscles than the other.
The result is a lag or delay in response. Thankfully, lazy eye is rarely found in both eyes. Surgery and therapy are needed with younger children. Permanent vision disturbances can be avoided when treated early.
Corrective lenses are prescribed as an alternative to the eyepatch method, forcing the patient to use their lazy eye.
Kids will play games and make fun of how it looks to cross their own eyes. Parents will warn that if they keep doing it their eyes will stay that way. While that isn’t true, “cross eyes” is a real condition.
When you can’t focus on objects sitting still, without vision shaking, you could have strabismus. If the eyes constantly shift and jiggle on their own, you have nystagmus. Treatment ranges from surgery to physical therapy to strengthen the eye’s muscles.
People who are colorblind don’t necessarily see in black and white. Colorblindness is the inability to tell the differences between reds and greens. In more advanced stages, people who are colorblind may only see shades of grey.
It’s also common to develop colorblindness from other diseases or possible drug interactions. Colorblindness is also more common in men than in women. The only treatments available are corrective lenses or stopping the underlying cause.
Gene therapy treatments are also working towards curing colorblindness.
A group of eye diseases can cause inflammation of uvea, known as uveitis. This is a layer inside the eye that contains a large concentration of blood vessels. Depending on the disease, the patient could suffer permanent vision loss or complete eye loss.
Rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, and ulcerative colitis can all cause uveitis. The most common signs of uveitis are eye fatigue, redness, pain, itchiness, and blurred vision.
Nearsighted vision is the most common form of vision loss. Also known as farsightedness, your eyes lose the ability to focus on objects up close. The lenses start to lose elasticity as we get older.
By 40 years old, you may start to struggle to read the text in books or on your phone without zooming in. Presbyopia is not only common, it easy and cheap to correct. You can go with glasses, contacts, or LASIK eye surgery.
Have you ever stared up at the sky on a clear day? If you pay close attention you will see little white dots floating around. Everyone has them, they’re our white blood cells passing in front of the retina.
It becomes a problem when these little specs turn into big specs that you can see in any well-lit environment. These floaters could indicate an eye condition called retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is when the retina begins to pull away from its base.
This detachment is accompanied by flashes of light, floating specs, or shadows alongside your peripheral vision. Corrective surgery is needed as soon as possible to prevent permanent alterations to vision.
Your eyes can dry from prolonged periods of use, but may also indicate a tear deficiency. If your eyes can’t produce enough tears under normal conditions, your eyes will start to burn and affect your vision. Chronic dryness may even lead to vision loss if left untreated.
Luckily, it’s not hard to treat most cases of dry eyes. You can offset the degree of dryness by buying a humidifier. If that doesn’t work, you can administer eye drops throughout the day.
You can take a dry eye test to determine whether you need treatment. A doctor can correct the problem by plugging tear ducts to reduce drainage. Lipiflow is a treatment that is used to safely correct these duct issues.
You can take over-the-counter meds, such as testosterone creams and fish oil supplements to improve eye health. Strong medications may get prescribed by your doctor, like Cyclosporine or Lifitegrast.
When your eyes are never dry, but always watery, you may have something wrong with your tear ducts. Tearing is the body’s natural response to foreign elements, too. Your environment may contain particles, allergens, or too much light, triggering tear production.
Infections may also produce excess tears if you normally don’t tear up so much. Antibiotics or surgery to correct blocked tear ducts are the two most common treatments.
Nearly 25 million people are diagnosed with cataracts in America. Cataracts are basically spots on the eye lens that blur vision. They scatter light, which creates tell-tale signs you should see an ophthalmologist.
Some people see them in the form of excess glare or halos around lights at night. The distortions don’t start out as obvious at first. Cataracts develop gradually and can go unnoticed for years without seeing an eye doctor.
Cataract surgery is fairly routine and has a high success rate for restoring vision.
About three million people suffer from an eye condition called open-angle glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease that involves increased pressure in the eye. When the pressure gets too high, it can damage the delicate optic nerve inside the eye.
Open-angle glaucoma is a naturally-occurring form that happens when the eye’s inner fluid canals become clogged. Other forms of glaucoma can happen due to trauma to the eye, cardiovascular issues, and other inflammatory diseases of the eye.
A thin layer that lines the back of your eye makes up the retina. This sensitive group of optical tissue is vulnerable to a number of disorders that interrupt normal visual acuity. The three main types are as follows:
- Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – focuses primarily on the macula.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – a disorder caused by damage to blood vessels from diabetes.
- Retinal detachment – as previously mentioned, this happens when the retinal tissues separate from its foundational layer.
All of these conditions are treatable and preventable with the help of early diagnosis.
One of the most common eye diseases is “pink eye” or conjunctivitis. Kids often get pink eye from all the touching and rubbing of their eyes they do with dirty hands.
Conjunctivitis appears when the sclera gets inflamed. It’s usually caused by foreign particles, irritants, allergies, or bacterial infection. Another common scenario where conjunctivitis appears is during fishing.
The cornea is at the very forefront of our vision. It’s the window to the retina. When the cornea gets infected or injured, it can result in a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.
Your eyes may get red, watery, burn, or become blurry or obscured. Corneal diseases can vary on the severity and could get treated with glasses, medicated solutions, or corrective surgery.
Outside of the eyeball itself, there are issues concerning the eyelid. If it fails to protect the eye’s surface, you could experience any number of the conditions we’ve covered. Eyelids are responsible for moistening, protecting, and shielding eyes from UV light.
Eyelids that aren’t providing proper coverage may produce problems in the form of pain, inflammation, irritation, dryness, and light sensitivity. Eyelids may also spasm or prove difficult to open and close. This might come from infection or underlying conditions.
Loss of vision is normal when you get into your senior years. As we mentioned previously, farsightedness often happens in your 40s and older. Getting glasses or contacts is the likely choice.
LASIK is a great alternative if you don’t like glasses or want a more permanent solution. Those who already wear glasses, you should look at getting a stronger prescription if you’re experiencing more visual disturbances. If you experience any of these symptoms we’ve covered, you should get an eye exam ASAP.
Vision changes can happen drastically and require emergency care if you’re not proactive. Temporary loss of vision should also increase the urgency to see a medical professional immediately. Don’t take any risks, even if you think its due to something you did, i.e. cram into the early morning.
Caution With Contact Lenses
Take care when signing up for contact lenses. They can become a great alternative for those not wanting to wear glasses. Contacts require diligent cleaning and careful handling.
If your contacts get dirty or dry, they can cause damage to your eyes. Remember to wash your hands in between every handling. Never use anything other than the prescription solution to wet them.
Only certain eye drops are appropriate for contact lens users. Also, don’t sleep with your contacts in, even if they’re technically safe. You increase the likelihood of foreign particles getting in your eyes.
Investigating Vision Disturbances
It’s hard to tell sometimes whether you’re seeing things or you’re having vision problems. Vision disturbances can fly under the radar for a long time until you notice a pattern. This is why it is so important to have regular eye exams.
It’s important for you to stay in the know when it comes to your eyes. Give yourself the peace of mind today by requesting an appointment with us. Get that clean bill of health and stay proactive on any pressing concerns regarding your vision at Magruder Eye Institute.