Globally, an estimated 285million people are visually impaired (WHO, 2010). Of this number, 39million are blind while 246million have low vision. 80% of all visual impairments can be avoided or cured.
A regular eye examination is therefore important, particularly in detecting progressive eye conditions that could lead to blindness.
Some eye conditions are congenital while others develop or worsen as people get older. Information in this article (though not elaborate) is a helpful guide of some common eye and vision disorders. Do you have problems with your eyes? Then see the Optometrist for diagnosis and treatment.
SOME COMMON EYE DISORDERS
AMBLYOPIA (OR LAZY EYE): Involuntary loss of vision in a weaker eye when the brain does not properly acknowledge the information it receives from that eye. It is common in infants and children. Vision loss can be reversed with therapy if the contributing eye problem is corrected during childhood. READ MORE
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION: Affects people over 50 years with a decrease or loss of central vision which is necessary for reading and close work. It occurs in 2 forms-dry and wet forms. The wet form requires immediate treatment to avoid loss of central vision. READ MORE
CATARACT: A dense, cloudy, opacity of the lens. It prevents light passing through the lens to the retina where images are processed causing visual impairment. LEARN MORE ABOUT CAUSES & TREATMENT
CONJUNCTIVITIS: Inflammation of the conjunctiva (the moist, transparent membrane that covers the eyeball and inner eyelid) on exposure to chemicals, irritants, injury or infection, thereby, giving the eye a red or pink color. LEARN THE CAUSES/TREATMENT
COLOR BLINDNESS/DEFICIENCY: This is most commonly a disorder of the light-sensitive photoreceptor cells (cones and rods) of the retina. Each photoreceptor produces pigments that respond to specific colors of light. Color vision is affected if those pigments are absent, defective, or if they respond to the wrong wavelength. LEARN MORE
CORNEAL DISEASES: Diseases, infections, injury and exposure to toxic agents can damage the cornea causing eye redness, watery eyes, pain, reduced vision or a halo effect. READ MORE
DRY EYES: Occurs when the tear glands cannot make enough tears or produce poor quality tears. It can be uncomfortable causing burning sensation and itching. FIND MORE INFORMATION
DOUBLE VISION: Can be caused by many different eye problems such as cornea irregularities, etc. It can also be a sign of a health problem in another part of the body, such as a stroke or brain tumor.
EYELID PROBLEMS: The eyelids protect the eye, distribute tears and limit the amount of light entering the eye. Problems include drooping, blinking spasms or inflamed outer edges of the eyelids. Common symptoms include pain, itching, tearing and sensitivity to light. Eyelids muscle spasm is usually minor but could become chronic in some cases or can accompany serious brain and nerve disorder. READ MORE
EYE STRAIN: Eye discomfort due to uncorrected refractive error. Common symptoms of this vision problem include a headache s, brow-aches, eye fatigue and/or a pulling sensation. May occur while performing a distant or near activity. Prolonged focusing can lead to eyestrain, such as working on the computer for hours.
EYE INJURY: Is trauma to the eye. Any significant injury to the eye should be evaluated by a doctor particularly if there is redness or pain that lasts for more than 15 to 20 minutes. MORE INFORMATION
FOREIGN BODY IN THE EYES: Anything that enters the eye from outside the body and doesn’t belong there. It causes immediate symptoms but may or may not be serious, depending on the object and location. LEARN MORE
FLOATERS: Tiny spots or specks that float across the field of vision. Are often considered normal, but can sometimes indicate a more serious eye problem. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if there is a noticeable increase in the type and number of floating bodies.
GLAUCOMA: Is a group of diseases that progressively damage the optic nerve which carries visual information to the brain and can lead to blindness. As the nerve cells die, vision is slowly lost, usually beginning in the periphery. Often, the vision loss is unnoticeable until a significant amount of nerve damage has occurred. GET MORE FACTS ABOUT RISK FACTORS AND TREATMENT OPTIONS
LOW VISION: This means “less than normal vision” and not blindness. It is residual, but potentially usable vision that can often be improved with optical and sometimes non-optical devices. The level of remaining sight is different for each individual, depending on the cause of low vision. READ MORE ABOUT CAUSES OF LOW VISION AND MANAGEMENT OPTIONS
NIGHT BLINDNESS: Is difficulty seeing in dim light because of deterioration of the rods (photoreceptors for dim illumination). It may be linked to liver disorder, vitamin A deficiency, inherited diseases of the retina, such as retinitis pigmentosa, etc. FIND OUT MORE
OCULAR EMERGENCIES: This involves experiencing symptoms such as a change in vision or eye pain that require immediate medical attention. See your eye doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms/warning signs: any loss of vision, particularly if sudden or in one eye; sudden onset of light flashes; a shadow (gray) in your peripheral (side) vision; a noticeable increase in the number of floaters; or a gray curtain moving across your field of vision or falling over the eye- this could be a sign of retinal detachment. Unless treated quickly, such emergencies could lead to blindness. MORE ABOUT CAUSES/TREATMENT
OPHTHALMOPLEGIA: This is weakness or paralysis of muscles that control eye movements. Certain neurologic disorders can cause this condition. LEARN OF RELATED DISORDERS
PROPTOSIS (OR EXOPHTHALMOS): This is the bulging out of one eye (unilateral) or both eyes (bilateral). Cases of proptosis develop for reasons ranging from variations in our anatomy to the development of another condition such as hyperthyroidism, of which bulging eyes are a symptom. If a person suddenly develops exophthalmos, especially in both eyes, it is considered a very serious problem. Sudden onsets of proptosis should always be evaluated by an eye doctor immediately. FIND OUT MORE
PHOTOPHOBIA: Photophobia is a condition in which bright lights hurt your eyes. Another name for this condition is light sensitivity. READ MORE ABOUT CAUSES AND MANAGEMENT
PTERYGIUM: This is a benign growth of the conjunctiva. Find out more about causes, symptoms, and treatment of pterygium. Is pingueculum same as pterygium? READ MORE
REFRACTIVE ERRORS: These occur when the shape of the eye or irregularities in some of its structures prevent light from objects from focusing directly on the retina (the nerve layer in the back of the eye that sends images to the brain). The length of the eyeball (either longer or shorter), changes in the shape of the cornea, or aging of the lens can cause refractive errors. Common types of refractive errors are myopia (nearsightedness), hypermetropia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia. LEARN MORE ABOUT SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS, TYPES, AND CORRECTION
RETINAL DISORDERS: The retina is a thin lining on the back of the eye made up of cells that collect visual images and pass them on to the brain. Disorders of the retina interrupt the transfer of images to the brain causing visual impairment. Examples include diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, retinal detachment, etc. Early diagnosis and treatment of these conditions is important to maintain vision. READ MORE
STRABISMUS (OR SQUINT): Are misaligned eyes. The eyes may not appear straight because one or more muscles are pulling too hard or other muscles are too weak. It could be congenital or acquired. READ MORE ABOUT CAUSES/TYPES/TREATMENT
SUBCONJUNCTIVAL HAEMORRHAGE: Is bleeding collecting under the conjunctiva. It is not a dangerous condition and tends to clear by itself within a few weeks. LEARN OF CAUSES
WATERY DISCHARGE: This is the excessive production of tears. It could be as a result of an eye infection or a blocked tear duct, or sensitivity to light, wind or temperature change. See your doctor for advice and treatment options.