Common Eye Diseases Explained

Here are some of the most common eye diseases that we routinely check for at your yearly exam:


1) Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that may or may not be associated with high pressure inside of the eye.

The optic nerve is the critical component in sending information from the eyes to the brain. If this nerve tissue suffers damage, that signal can be lost, which can over time lead to blindness.

Glaucoma usually affects your peripheral vision first and is a very slow moving disease. It is painless, and therefore, most people do not know they have it unless a very drastic amount of vision loss presents itself.

Fortunately, glaucoma is a very treatable disease if detected early. Common treatment usually involves the use of eye drops to lower eye pressure. Sometimes, different types of surgery may be required to control the pressure if drops are not working well enough.

2) Cataract

Cataract is usually an age-related condition that causes changes in vision. The natural lens inside the eye becomes cloudy.

Common symptoms include:

  • blurry vision
  • glare
  • sensitivity to light
  • dimming or dulling of colors
  • what seems like a film over the eyes

When cataracts become severe enough, glasses or changing your prescription may not help. At that time, surgery will be required to improve the vision and remove the cataract.

Cataract surgery is a relatively painless and very commonly performed procedure in which a cataract surgeon removes the natural lens inside the eye, and replaces it with a clear implantable lens.

3) Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease that causes loss of central vision. Changes develop in the back of the eye, retinal cells begin to deteriorate, and this results in blurry or wavy vision.

Unfortunately, glasses or contacts cannot help this condition.

The cause of macular degeneration is not completely understood.

Some of the most common risk factors include:

  • Age
  • family history
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to sunlight or UV rays

There is no cure for macular degeneration; however, there are certain things that might help reduce risk and slow progression of the disease. This includes:

  • protecting the eyes from the sun and ultraviolet light with sunglasses
  • avoiding smoking
  • changes in diet and use of some vitamins

Some nutritional supplements containing antioxidants as well as lutein and zeaxanthin have demonstrated some ability in reducing the progression of the disease. Please ask your eye doctor which vitamins are best to use.

4) Floaters

Floaters are a very common condition and most people describe them as grey strands, circles, dots, cobwebs, or squiggly lines that move across the field of vision.

Most people tend to notice floaters on white backgrounds or blue skies.

They are usually age-related and occur naturally when the vitreous, which is a gel-like substance in the back of the eye, stretches and begins to form clumps.

Floaters usually pose no threat to vision; however, sometimes floaters can be a sign of a very serious eye condition like a retinal tear or detachment. If you ever notice a lot of new floaters, or you begin seeing them more frequently, especially if accompanied by flashes of lights, and loss of vision, you should contact your eye doctor immediately.

There is unfortunately not much that can be done for floaters; however, they usually tend to improve over time as you begin to get used to them and most people will notice them less frequently over time.

Prevention and early detection is the best way to maintain healthy eyes and vision which is why a yearly eye examination is so important regardless of whether or not you need or wear glasses or contact lenses.



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