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Common Eye Disorders: Things To Know

Written by Dr. Kirilyuk Inna Anatolyivna on Fri, 11 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • The human eye is not a perfect sphere, it is a slightly asymmetrical globe, about an inch in diameter.
  • Reading for long hours, working at a computer, or driving for a very long distance can trigger eye strain.
  • Allergies, eyestrain, lack of sleep, or staying up too late can cause red eyes.
  • Being sensitive to light, wind, or temperature changes can cause the release of excess tears from your tear ducts.
  • Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve (the nerve that sends images to the brain) 
  • Diabetic retinopathy is caused as a result of the damage to the blood vessels in your retina caused by diabetes.
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A pink eye during the monsoons, an eye infection due to the storm, and dry eyes during exam season are some common instances of eye ailments that might arise during our daily life. 

Most people come across an eye problem once in a while. Some of these eye ailments may be minor and go away on their own or with the use of home remedies. However, some eye problems can be more serious and require the keen look of a healthcare professional. 

Whether your eye health hasn't been that great, to begin with, or it has recently started to degenerate, you can always do something to make it better. 

In this blog, we will learn all about the various common eye disorders that affect people of all ages and also how to proceed with their treatment. 

But before we dive into the sea of eye disorders, we need to get the basics of eye health right. 

Are you aware of the structure of the human eye? Don't worry if you aren't, keep reading to find out all about the structure and function of the human eye, common eye disorders, common symptoms, lines of treatment, disease prevention, and so on.

Common eye disorders in people of all age groups

1. Eye strain

Reading for long hours, working at a computer, or driving for a very long distance can trigger the sensation of overusing your eye muscles. 

This can manifest in the form of tiredness, headaches, eye pain, and blurred vision. This happens when the eyes are constantly used and haven't had proper rest. 

Just like any other part of your body, the eye muscles need to relax. If your eyes feel strained, give them some time off. You can try a cool ice pack for the eyes or indulge in eye exercises. 

If your eyes are still weary after a few days, Talk to your healthcare provider, get your eyes checked and make sure there isn't a problem.

2. Dry eyes

When your eyes are unable to make enough lubricant in the form of tears, there is a chance of eye dryness. Dry eyes can lead to a burning, stinging, or prickling sensation. 

Using doctor-recommended eye drops and nutritional supplements with fish oil and omega-3 can help. 

If your dry eye problem feels chronic, talk to your doctor about Lipiflow, a procedure that uses heat and pressure to treat dry eyes, or medications like cyclosporine eye drops or lifitegrast to stimulate tear production.

Here's how you can take care of your dry eyes

3. Red eyes

The eye surface is full of blood vessels that expand when they're irritated or infected. This makes your eyes look red. Allergies, eyestrain, lack of sleep, or staying up too late can cause red eyes.

Red eyes could be a symptom of another allergic eye condition, sun damage, or eye injury.  If over-the-counter eye drops don't help, it is essential to see your doctor. 

4. Eye floaters

We all know the white, tiny spots, lines, or specks floating at the side of your vision. 

Most people see them after a prolonged sun or light exposure. Floaters are usually normal, but they sometimes can signify a more serious eye problem, like retinal detachment. 

If you notice a sudden change in the type or number of these white spots or flashes or a dark curtain appears before your vision visit your eye doctor as soon as possible.

5. Excess tearing

Being sensitive to light, wind, or temperature changes can cause the release of excess tears from your tear ducts. 

Protecting your eyes from the sun, wind, and dust can help prevent this problem.

Wearing sunglasses can prove to be helpful. If your eyes are tearing up constantly it may signal a more serious problem, like an eye infection or a blocked tear duct. Seek treatment from your eye doctor if the issue persists.

6. Eyelid problems

Eyelids protect your eye, maintain moisture in the eye by spreading tears, and regulate the amount of light that gets in.

Pain, inflamed outer edges, constant blinking, itching, irritation, tearing, and sensitivity to light are common symptoms of eyelid problems. Treatment includes cleaning, medication, or surgery.

Common vision-related refractive errors of the eye

1. Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Also known as nearsightedness is a condition in which the person can see objects that are near closely, but has difficulty seeing far away objects. 

It is not safe for a myopic person to drive or cross the street alone as it might be difficult for them to judge their surroundings. Myopia can occur in humans of all ages.

Myopia is a common vision disorder and can be corrected using eyeglasses, contact lenses, or eye surgery. Once proper aid is given, a myopic person can lead a normal life.

2. Hypermetropia (Farsightedness)

Farsightedness is a condition in which a person has no problem viewing objects that are far away but has trouble seeing nearby things, eg. reading a book would be difficult for someone with hypermetropia. 

A farsighted eye cannot refract light properly which leads to the formation of an incomplete image on the retina and causes trouble seeing faraway objects.

Farsightedness affects people of all ages and gets more common with age.  Hypermetropia is a common vision disorder and can be corrected using eyeglasses, contact lenses, or eye surgery. 

3. Presbyopia

After a certain age, you lose the ability to see close objects and small print despite good distance vision. This is because of a condition called presbyopia.

Senior citizens and older adults above the age of 40 may have trouble reading due to this. Reading glasses, contact lenses, LASIK, which is laser eye surgery, and other procedures can be used to restore good reading vision.

4. Amblyopia (Lazy eye)

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, happens when one eye doesn't develop effectively. 

Vision is weaker in that eye, and it tends to move around rather slowly while the other eye stays put. It's found in infants, children, and adults, and rarely affects both eyes. 

Starting treatment immediately for infants and children can be helpful. Lifelong vision problems can be avoided if a lazy eye is detected and treated during early childhood. Treatment includes corrective glasses, contact lenses, and using a patch to make a child use the lazy eye.

5. Strabismus (Cross-eyes)

Strabismus also known as cross-eyes is a vision disorder in which the movements of both eyes do not align with each other. 

That is if one eye is focusing in one direction, the other focuses in a different direction. 

Normally, the six eye muscles control the eye movements in both eyes, However, in strabismus, the eye muscles are unable to control and maintain the ocular alignment. 

Strabismus can be categorized by the direction of the turned or misaligned eye:

  • Inward turning (esotropia)
  • Outward turning (exotropia)
  • Upward turning (hypertropia)
  • Downward turning (hypotropia) 

6. Nystagmus (Uncontrolled eye movement)

Nystagmus is a condition in which the eyes make rapid, continuous, repetitive, and uncontrolled eye movements such as:

  • Up and down (vertical nystagmus)
  • Side to side (horizontal nystagmus) or 
  • In a circle (rotary nystagmus)

These uncontrolled eye movements can cause trouble balancing and judging one's surroundings. 

Both strabismus and nystagmus affect babies and even older adults. It is possible to treat both these vision disorders with the help of eyeglasses, orthoptics (eye exercises), contact lenses, or eye surgery.

Common eye diseases that require medical treatment

1. Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudy lens. Several age-related factors can lead to the formation of cataracts and thus the clouding of the lens. This cloudiness can hinder one's sight. 

Cataracts usually form slowly and can affect both of any one eye.

Many times cataracts stay small and don't affect your sight. However, if they do progress and affect your vision, surgery almost always works to bring it back.

2. Night blindness

Night BlindnessNight blindness or Nyctalopia is the inability to see clearly in low light or the dark. 

People with this disorder might have a problem adapting to a low-light environment after being in a bright environment. Night blindness can hint at other underlying eye conditions.

Night blindness is treatable and can even be prevented with the help of vitamin A-rich foods such as carrots, cantaloupes, butternut squash, spinach, and eggs. 

3. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve (the nerve that sends images to the brain). 

The rising intraocular pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve. If the damage persists, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or complete blindness within a couple of years. 

With treatment, it is possible to control the intraocular pressure in the eye and reverse the vision loss due to glaucoma. Treatment options include eye drops, oral medications, microsurgery, and laser eye surgery.

4. Colourblindness

The Ishihara TestWhen you can't see certain colors, or can't tell the difference between reds and greens you may be colorblind. 

It happens when the cone cells in the eye are absent or don't work. 

Most colorblind people are born with it but it is possible to acquire it late in life due to certain diseases. 

Take the Ishihara Test. There's no treatment if you're born with it, but special contacts and glasses can help some people tell the difference between certain colors. 

5. Retinal disorders

The retina is a thin lining comprising millions of light-sensitive cells on the back of your eye that collect images and pass them on to your brain. 

Damage to the retina can prevent this transmission and lead to vision problems. There are different types of retinal disorders:

  • Age-related macular degeneration: It is the breakdown or degeneration of a part of the retina called the macula.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: It is caused as a result of the damage to the blood vessels in your retina caused by diabetes.
  • Retinal detachment: Occurs due to the separation of the retina from the layers underneath.

These conditions require your doctor's opinion and a defined medical treatment. It's important to get an early diagnosis and have these conditions treated.

6. Corneal disease

The cornea is the transparent dome-shaped window in the front of our eye. 

The damage caused to the cornea by an infection, injury, or exposure to toxins leads to corneal disease. The signs of the corneal disease include watery eyes, red eyes, pain, and reduced vision.

Seeing your doctor and discussing your treatment options can help you overcome this vision disorder. 

7. Conjunctivitis

ConjunctivitisDuring a conjunctivitis infection, the tissue lining the back of your eyelids and covering your sclera gets inflamed leading to irritation, redness, itching, burning, tearing, discharge, or a feeling that something is in your eye. 

This can give the appearance of pink eye. Anyone from a child to an older adult can fall prey to this infection. 

Causes include infection due to bacteria, viruses, or allergens like chemicals and irritants. Conjunctivitis is easily treatable with your doctor's prescribed medications and eye drops.

These above-mentioned eye disorders are common and are usually treatable. Being aware and mindful of these vision disorders can improve your chances of getting treatment sooner. 

Conclusion

The human eye is a delicate and sensitive organ with intricate parts. 

An inflammation, damage, or infection to any of its parts can cause discomfort in the eye. This can lead to trouble viewing. Various causative agents like viruses, bacteria, allergens, etc. can cause eye disorders. Some common vision disorders are a result of refractive errors in the eye. 

Being aware of these common eye disorders, and understanding their causative agents and treatment options can help in early diagnosis and better treatment. 

It is essential to talk to your healthcare provider or your ophthalmologist if you experience any eye-related discomfort.

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Dr. Kirilyuk Inna Anatolyivna

She is graduated from Vinnytsia National Medical University, in 2008.
2008-2010 resident, family practice.
2010-2015 General practitioner, family practice doctor.

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  2. Mohammed TS, et al. Adv Med. 2021 Jul 5;2021:5557761.
  3. National Research Council (US) Committee on Vision. Procedures for Testing Color Vision: Report of Working Group 41. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1981. CHAPTER 3, COLOR VISION TESTS. Available from: NIH