Top Causes of Eye Problems
Most people have eye problems at one time or another. Some are minor and will go away on their own, or are easy to treat at home. Others need a specialist’s care.
Whether your vision isn’t what it used to be, or never was that great, there are things you can do to get your eye health back on track.
See if any of these common problems sound familiar. And always check with a doctor if your symptoms are really bad or don’t clear up within a few days.
Anyone who reads for hours, works at a computer, or drives long distances knows about this one. It happens when you overuse your eyes. They get tired and need to rest, just like any other part of your body.
If your eyes feel strained, give them some time off. If they’re still weary after a few days, check with your doctor to make sure it isn’t another problem.
Your eyes look bloodshot. Why?
Their surface is covered in blood vessels that expand when they’re irritated or infected. That gives your eyes the red look.
Eyestrain can do it, and so can a late night, a lack of sleep, or allergies. If an injury is the cause, get it checked by your doctor.
Red eyes could be a symptom of another eye condition, like conjunctivitis (pinkeye) or sun damage from not wearing shades over the years. If over-the-counter eye drops and rest don’t clear it up, see your doctor.
Is it hard to see at night, especially while driving? Is it tough to find your way around in dark places, such as movie theaters?
That sounds like night blindness. It’s a symptom, not a problem in its own right. Nearsightedness, cataracts, keratoconus, and a lack of vitamin A all cause a type of night blindness that doctors can fix.
Some people are born with this problem, or it might develop from a degenerative disease involving the retina, and that usually can’t be treated. If you have it, you’ll need to be extra careful in areas of low light.
Lazy eye, or amblyopia, happens when one eye doesn’t develop properly. Vision is weaker in that eye, and it tends to move “lazily” around while the other eye stays put. It’s found in infants, children, and adults, and rarely affects both eyes. Treatment needs to be sought immediately for infants and children.
Lifelong vision problems can be avoided if a lazy eye is detected and treated during early childhood. Treatment includes corrective glasses or contact lenses and using a patch or other strategies to make a child use the lazy eye.
Cross Eyes (Strabismus) and Nystagmus
If your eyes aren’t lined up with each other when you look at something, you could have strabismus. You might also hear it called crossed eyes or walleye.
This problem won’t go away on its own. Sometimes you can go to vision therapy with an eye doctor to help strengthen the weak eye muscles. Often, you’ll likely need to get an ophthalmologist, or eye surgeon specialist, to correct it surgically.You’ll need to get an ophthalmologist, or eye specialist, to correct it.
With nystagmus, the eye moves or “jiggles” all the time on its own.
There are many treatments, including vision therapy to make your eyes stronger. Surgery is also an option. Your doctor will examine your eyes to see which treatment might work best for you.
Why Are Eye Medications Needed?
The most common therapeutic uses for eye medications include glaucoma, eye infections, allergy and inflammation (redness) of the eye. Eye drops are also used for diagnostic purposes to dilate (enlarge) the pupils or to dye the ocular surface for eye examinations. Additionally, there are anesthetic eye drops to numb the eye. These are used for some diagnostic tests or for removing foreign objects from the cornea (the clear protective outer coat of the eye).
What Is the Proper Use of Eye Medications?
The proper way to use eye drops or ointments is:
- Wash your hands.
- Shake the container.
- Tilt your head back and look up.
- Gently pull your lower lid away from the eye, forming a pouch (see illustration A).
- Into the pouch place one drop or 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ointment. Do not touch the eye or eyelid with the container or dropper.
- For drops: For five minutes, do one of these methods. Either close your eye, or with your eye open press your finger against the inner corner of your eyelid and the side of your nose (see illustration B). This prevents the medication from entering the tear duct and draining away.
- For ointment: Simply close your eye. Your vision may be blurred for several minutes.
- Repeat with the other eye if needed.
- Replace the cap or dropper on the bottle or tube; tighten.
It takes five minutes for most of an eye drop to be absorbed into the eye. Wait at least five minutes before instilling a second drop or between applying other eye medications.
In most cases, dry eyes are merely a cosmetic concern. It’s fine to treat minor irritation, exhaustion, and occasional redness with eye drops.
People should note that anti-redness drops won’t treat underlying problems. People will probably have to keep using them if the cause is not dealt with.
Over-the-counter eye lubricating drops may treat and prevent minor dry eye, but prescription remedies tend to work better.
When to see a doctor
People don’t need to see a doctor every time their eyes are red. However, anyone who experiences any of the following symptoms will need medical treatment:
- Redness and blurry vision
- Redness and intense pain and itching
- Green or yellow discharge from the eyes
- Difficulty seeing
- Feelings of pressure in the eyes
- Chronically dry, itchy eyes
- Seasonal eye redness that might be allergies
Glasses and contact lenses
Lenses have been used for over 800 years to help improve eyesight. Initially, people used single eyeglasses, but this developed into a double frame containing lenses worn in front of both eyes simultaneously. Left and right lenses can differ according to the wearer’s requirements. Bifocals, trifocals and glasses with adjustable focus followed.
And then in the latter part of the twentieth century, the use of contact lenses became widespread, especially with the advent of the first soft contact lenses in 1971, according to the timeline on the site of GP contact lenses. Contact lenses are small plastic discs worn in the eye. These are shaped to correct eyesight problems.
Both glasses and contact lenses help to bend light rays and focus an image more sharply on your retina, improving your eyesight, by enabling your brain to receive a clearer picture of what you are observing.
Laser Surgery Can Improve Vision Problems
Laser vision surgery is a popular treatment for vision problems. It reduces or eliminates the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Laser procedures can help correct refractive errors. These are problems caused by an imperfectly shaped eyeball or cornea. The cornea is the clear part on the front of the eye that bends and focuses light. Refractive errors cause light from an object to be imprecisely focused on the retina of the eye. This causes a blurred image. Refractive errors often occur in otherwise healthy eyes.
These are the 4 basic types of refractive errors:
Nearsightedness (myopia). Close objects appear sharp, but those in the distance are blurred. The eyeball is longer than normal from front to back or the cornea is curved too much. Images focus in front of the retina instead of on it.
Farsightedness (hyperopia). Distant objects can be seen clearly, but objects up close are blurred. The eyeball is shorter than normal or the cornea is too flat. Images focus behind the retina.
Astigmatism. Objects are blurred at any distance. The cornea, lens, or both are shaped so that images aren’t focused sharply on the retina.
Presbyopia or aging eye. The eye loses its ability to change focus because of the natural aging process. This often occurs between ages 40 and 50. Refractive surgery can’t correct this problem. It can make distance vision clearer. But it may make near vision worse.