An eye condition is a blanket term that refers to a host of diseases relating to the function and health of the eye. At Snyder Optometry, we proactively provide basic disease information to help people with eye problems better understand their condition. Below we describe some of the more common types of eye diseases and how they are generally treated. For more information, or to schedule an examination for yourself or a family member, please call us at (626) 282-8493.
Most cataracts develop with old age or can occur from injury, where trauma has affected the lens tissue. Some cataracts are genetic in nature but can also be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes or a past eye surgeries. Long-term use of steroid medications can also cause cataracts to develop.
The lens, where cataracts form, is positioned behind the colored part of your eye (iris). The lens focuses light that passes into your eye, producing clear, sharp images on the retina — the light-sensitive membrane on the back inside wall of your eyeball that functions like the film of a camera. The cataract scatters the light as it passes through the lens, preventing a sharply defined image from reaching your retina. As a result, your vision becomes clouded and blurred.
Diabetic retinopathy is a serious sight-threatening condition occurring in persons with diabetes, which causes progressive damage to the retina. Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar, which can cause many health problems. Over time, diabetes affects the circulatory system of the retina.
The damage caused by diabetic retinopathy causes swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include seeing spots or floaters in your field of vision, blurred vision, a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision, and difficulty seeing well at night.
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic and typically progressive condition. Depending on its cause and severity, it may not be completely curable. But in most cases, dry eyes can be managed successfully, usually resulting in noticeably greater eye comfort and sometimes sharper vision as well.
Successful treatment of dry eyes requires that you are willing to follow your doctor’s recommendations and that you use the products he or she recommends consistently and as frequently as directed. For mild cases of dry eyes commonly caused by computer use, reading, schoolwork and other situations, the best dry eye treatment may simply be frequent use of artificial tears or other lubricating eye drops. If the condition is more severe special medicated eye drops might be used, as well as puntcal plugs which help keep a proper tear film over the cornea providing increased comfort and vision.
Some people may see flashes of light in front of one of their eyes, like small sparkles, lightening or fireworks. These tend to be in the extreme corners of your vision, come and go, and don’t obscure any part of your vision. The flashes don’t last for a defined length of time, and they are noticed more if transitioning from a light to a dark environment. They may persist for several months.
Flashes can occur when the gel in your eye becomes more liquid and “tugs” on the retina or may occur if you receive a hit in the eye. However, constant flashes may indicate a retinal tear or detachment and may be accompanied by a shadow at the edge of your vision. If this happens you should consult your optometrist straight away.
Eye floaters are small, semi-transparent spots in your vision. They may appear as dark specks, strings or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes, and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly.
Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside your eyes becomes more liquid. Microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on your retina, which appear to you as floaters. If you notice a sudden increase in eye floaters, contact an eye specialist immediately — especially if you also see light flashes or lose your peripheral vision. These can be symptoms of an emergency that requires prompt attention.
Glaucoma is a disease that is often associated with elevated intraocular pressure, in which damage to the eye’s optic nerve can lead to loss of vision and even blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world.
Glaucoma usually causes no symptoms early in its course, at which time it can only be diagnosed by regular eye examinations (screenings with the frequency of examination based on age and the presence of other risk factors). Several painless tests that determine the intraocular pressure, the status of the optic nerve and drainage angle, and visual fields are used to diagnose the presence of glaucoma and monitor its progression.
The retina is the tissue layer located in the back of your eye. This layer transforms light into nerve signals that are then sent to the brain for interpretation. When your blood pressure is too high, the retina’s blood vessel walls may thicken. This may cause your blood vessels to become narrow, which then restricts blood from reaching the retina.
You probably won’t have any symptoms until the condition has progressed extensively. Possible signs and symptoms include: reduced vision, eye swelling, bursting of a blood vessel, double-vision accompanied by headaches. At Snyder Optometry, we can successfully diagnose hypertensive retinopathy.
Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans – more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. Currently, Macular Degeneration is considered an incurable eye disease.
Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.
Like all allergies, ocular allergies (allergic conjunctivitis) starts when the immune system identifies an otherwise harmless substance as an allergen. This causes your immune system to overreact and produce antibodies that travel and trigger a chemical reaction which cause an allergic reaction. In this case, allergic reactions include eyes that water, itch, hurt or become red or swollen.
Indoor allergens such as dust mites and pet dander can also cause eye allergies year-round. If you suffer from this type of allergy, you may notice your symptoms worsen around dust or pets. Eye allergy symptoms can be very annoying yet they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. However, red, itchy, burning and puffy eyes can be caused also by infections and other conditions that can threaten eyesight.
If you have a question regarding a condition affecting your eyesight or want an expert opinion for a family member, we are ready to help you. Please contact Snyder Optometry today at (626)282-8493.