Many different eye diseases can affect our vision, the health of our eyes, and even our quality of life. Some are more likely to affect us than others. Knowing what they are, how to spot them, and when to seek professional help can make all the difference to your long-term eye health.
Here’s what you need to know about four of the most common eye diseases, how they are diagnosed and the treatments that may be available.
Macular degeneration or AMD stands for age-related macular degeneration, is estimated to affect around 1.8 million Americans, with the vast majority of them being over the age of 40. Macular degeneration occurs when the cells of the macula, which is responsible for our central vision, start to deteriorate. The condition is broadly separated into two types, but the most common is known as dry AMD, which develops slowly over several years.
Symptoms of dry AMD include blurred central vision, formation of blind spots, difficulty seeing in low light conditions, and objects appearing smaller than their actual size. Dry AMD is usually detected at routine eye exams. This is because it can be diagnosed by examining the back of your eyes.
Unfortunately, there’s no current treatment for dry AMD, but experts recommend using vision aids such as brighter lightbulbs, magnifying glasses, and prescription lenses to help improve your vision. If you develop ‘wet’ AMD, which occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow into the eye and leak fluid into the macula, and cause scarring, you may be offered eye injections or photodynamic therapy to prevent further damage to your vision.
Cataracts are another extremely common condition and it’s estimated that more than 24.4 million people in the United States over the age of 40 have been affected by it. Cataracts occur when changes to the lens of the eye cause the proteins within it to clump together can cause patches that obscure your vision. Cataracts get progressively worse unless treated.
Common symptoms of cataracts include blurred/cloudy vision, difficulty seeing in low light, light sensitivity, colors appearing faded, and feeling as though you are looking through frosted glass. The symptoms will continue to get worse until treatment is sought.
In the early stages of cataracts, a new prescription, magnifying lenses, and brighter lighting can help. However, ultimately people with the condition find that they need surgery to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial alternative, called an IOL.
Around 3 million Americans are thought to suffer from glaucoma, a condition that is the second leading cause of vision loss worldwide. Glaucoma occurs when excess pressure inside the eyes causes damage to the optic nerve, affecting patient vision. There are two types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma develops slowly over months and years, with the only real symptom being peripheral vision loss until the condition has advanced. Acute glaucoma is much rarer, and caused by the sudden increase in pressure, has much more significant symptoms including severe eye pain, sudden visual disturbances, tunnel vision, and vision loss.
There are lots of different treatments can that be used to help lower intraocular eye pressure and get glaucoma under control, including eye drops, oral medications, traditional surgery, and laser surgery. Your eye doctor will be able to recommend the right course of action to help treat your glaucoma.
Dry eye will affect most people at some stage of their lifetime and occurs when the tear film that usually keeps our eyes hydrated and lubricated is compromised. It could be that the eyes aren’t making enough tear film, the quality of the tear film is lacking making them ineffective, or the tear film is draining too quickly. It’s not always known why some people develop dry eyes and others don’t.
Aside from the eyes feeling dry, other symptoms include redness, burning/itching, sensitivity to light, mucus production around the eyes, blurred vision, and difficulty wearing contact lenses.
Fortunately, there is a wide range of treatments that can help to counteract the effects of dry eyes. Initially, you’ll probably start with eye drops and warm compresses to help prompt tear film production. However, you might also be offered prescription medications, devices to create tear film, or even surgery to help.
For more advice on common eye conditions and their treatments, visit Eyecare Center of Martin in Martin, Tennessee. Call 731-587-3555 to schedule an appointment today.