5 Most Common Eye Problems
Your eyesight is likely to be valued as the most important of the five senses. Unfortunately, research around the world reveals that nearly half of adults share the misguided belief that seeing well translates to good health.
In a report published by Optician in 2010 on World Sight Day (October 14), 54% of survey respondents have never had a comprehensive eye exam. By comprehensive, this refers to an exam focused on either vision correction or overall eye health.
The question is: how many of the most common eye problems go undiagnosed?
It is possible that people may not even realize they're dealing with an eye issue. According to research from the American Foundation for the Blind, around 26.9 million adult Americans reported either having difficulties seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, or worse, that they cannot see at all.
As you read through this article, if you are familiar with the symptoms detailed below or suspect that you're experiencing any eye or vision troubles, consult you optometrist or find an eye doctor near you.
#1. Eye Strain
Eye strain is a general term that refers to general discomfort or pain in/around the eye due to overuse. Anyone working at a computer, driving long distances, or reading a book for too many hours can experience eye strain.
- Blurred or double vision
- Headaches ? Watery/dry eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sore neck, shoulders, or back
- Tired, burning, or itchy eyes
- Looking at digital screens (i.e., computer monitors and smartphones)
- Reading without resting eyes
- Prolonged exposure to bright light or glares
- Driving long distances
- Performing activities that require excessive concentration
- Stress or fatigue
- Dry eyes (i.e., due to exposure to wind, fans, or hot air)
Digital Eye Strain
Recently, the daily usage of smartphones and computers cause eye strain in children and teenagers to be especially common. The impact may first appear as mild headaches and blurred vision, this can later result in vision problems, such as near or farsightedness.
Overall, eyestrain may be uncomfortable, but it is a minor issue that often goes away on its own. In some cases, eyestrain may signify a larger underlying issue. If symptoms don't go away after giving your eyes a rest, you may want to see a doctor.
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin tissue over the white part of the eye as well as the inside of the eyelid. There are a variety of ways to contract pink eye, such as from viruses, bacteria, allergens, or air pollutants and irritants.
Pink eye is a common eye problem and highly contagious, often affecting children. The onset of pink eye has distinct symptoms and is unlikely to damage vision, especially when it is identified and treated early.
- Bright red eyes
- Burning or itchy eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Discharge from eye(s)
- Swelling of the conjunctiva
- Blurred vision
Types of Conjunctivitis (Cause)
1. Allergic Conjunctivitis
Most often affects people with seasonal allergies. It can develop rapidly when the eye comes into contact with pollen or other allergens in the air.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis
This is caused when an object remains in contact with the eye for an extended period. For example, people who wear contact lenses that are not replaced frequently put themselves at risk of this eye problem.
2. Infectious Conjunctivitis
- Caused when staphylococcal or streptococcal spreads from contact with skin or the respiratory system (i.e., coughing). People who share makeup, improper contact lens hygiene, skin lotions contaminated with bacteria have a higher risk of developing pink eye.
- Common infection caused by viruses, such as the common cold. It is highly contagious and can spread when exposed to coughing or sneezing from another person with a respiratory infection.
- One of the most severe forms of bacterial that often affects infants and newborn babies. If left untreated, this can result in permanent eye damage.
3. Chemical Conjunctivitis
This is often caused by irritants, such as air pollutants, chlorine in pools, as well as exposure to noxious chemicals Treatments Depending on the type of conjunctivitis a person has, there are different treatment options available:
- First, the irritant or allergen must be removed. Afterward, non-steroid, anti-inflammatory medications can be used, and in some cases, topical steroid eye drops may be prescribed.
- Like any bacterial infection, they can be treated with antibiotics. It can take 3 to 4 days to clear if the prescription is followed correctly.
- Unfortunately, viral infections can not be cleared with antibiotics, ointments, or eye drops. In this case, the only thing you can do is to let the virus run its course. A topical steroid eye drop may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and discomfort.
- This requires careful flushing of the eyes with saline. It is recommended to rinse your eyes with water right away before seeing a doctor. In cases of severe chemical injuries, there may be scarring to the eye as well as damage to sight or complete loss of vision.
#3. Dry Eye Syndrome
Tears keep your eyes lubricated, however with dry eye syndrome, eyes are unable to produce enough of it. There are two causes of dry eye syndrome with the common symptom being a stinging, burning, or itching sensation.
- Burning, itchy, or stinging in eyes
- Red eyes
- Blurry vision
- Eye fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Discomfort wearing contact lenses
- Thick mucus production around eyes
The leading causes of dry eye syndrome are: decreased tear production or rapid tear evaporation.
1. Decreased tear production due to aging, medical conditions, medications, laser eye surgery, tear gland inflammation, and more.
2. Rapid tear evaporation caused by exposure to dry air, hot air, smoke, wind, extended periods without blinking, and other factors.
For mild or occasional occurrences of dry eye syndrome, an over the counter eye drops can keep eyes lubricated and reduce symptoms. For more serious and persistent symptoms, consulting an eye doctor would be recommended to identify the underlying causes and prescribe an appropriate treatment.
Right now, there are more than 1.68 million men 50 years and older affected by dry eye syndrome, and this is expected to affect more than 2.79 million US men by 2030. Many men deal with this issue by looking for new glasses for men as a treatment option.
Dry eye syndrome is also particularly common in older women. About 5.7% of women contract the disease by the age of 50. By the age of 75 and older, more than 9.8% are affected. It may be beneficial to get a new pair of women's glasses as a form of treatment.
Cataracts are cloudy areas that slowly form in the lens of your eye. Although cataract can be caused by injuries or genetics, they commonly occur as your vision changes or as you age.
Clouded or dim vision
Difficulties seeing at night
Sensitivity to light and glares
Double vision in one eye
Seeing "halos" or rings around lights
Requiring frequent changes in eyeglasses or contact lenses prescription
Yellowing of colors
Cataracts Across America
Recent findings from the National Eye Institute reveal that almost 50 million people will be affected by cataracts. Based on their research, some ethnic groups have a higher risk than others. For example, caucasians are the most prominent people to be affected.
In the early stages, cataracts can be managed with new eyeglasses, anti-glare sunglasses, and brighter lighting. When cataracts are caught at the early stages, sunglasses can be used as a form of treatment. However, they can only delay the progression and not stop cataracts from reaching later stages.
Once a cataract reaches its later stages, there can be a significant impairment of vision. At this point, surgery is the only effective treatment to improve vision.
#5. Hyperopia & Myopia
Hyperopia and myopia refers to farsightedness and nearsightedness, respectively. They are both frequently caused by genetics or irregularities in eye shape.
- Hyperopia (Farsightedness)
- Blurry vision for objects or words up close
- Having to squint to see better
- Aching or burning sensation around the eyes
- Headache when reading or tasks that require focus or extended periods of concentration
- Myopia (Nearsightedness)
- Blurry vision when looking at objects at a distance
- Having to squint to see objects
- Headaches due to eye strain
- Difficulty seeing while driving, most often at night
Often caused by a flat cornea, but also due to the eyeball being shorter than normal. When this occurs, light is focused beyond the retina instead of on it. Also, if parents are farsighted, there is a greater chance that their children will be born with Hyperopia.
Caused by a refractive error with the eye. This means the eye does not focus light correctly. Instead, light is being focused in front of the retina not on it. Children who spend a lot of time outside between the ages of 6 and 14 are at a higher risk of developing myopia.
Both nearsightedness and farsightedness can be treated with prescriptions for corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses. By changing the way light is refracted and comes into contact with the eye, vision can be improved and the effects of eye strain reduced. Getting the right types of glasses, lenses, and lens treatment can be beneficial for overall eye health.
Your eye health is precious, and only a proactive approach can help prevent and treat and vision issues and health problems that may arise. Please contact an eye doctor if you suspect that you are having any vision problems so that you can maintain optimal vision and eye health.
Eye Health is an International Problem.
Across cultures and national boundaries, sight is valued as the most important of the five senses. But new research reveals that across the world, nearly half of adults (44 percent) share the misguided belief that seeing well translates to good eye health. This and other findings confirm a large global gap between vision care attitudes and behavior which may be preventing people from seeking proper treatment and diagnosis for them and their children.
Global Attitudes and Perception About Vision Care
Gaps in vision care attitudes and behavior are a recurrent theme throughout Global Attitudes and Perceptions About Vision Care, a new survey conducted on behalf of The Vision Care Institute, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company. More than 6,500 adults, ages 18 to 54 in 13 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the U.S. were surveyed to better understand the incidence, practice and perception of eye exams for adults and children around the world. Globally, survey respondents demonstrate a strong belief that good vision positively impacts quality of life. Eight-in-ten respondents (79 percent) believe that improving their vision will impact their enjoyment of life, helping them perform better in hobbies (73 percent), school/career (71 percent), and sports (65 percent). More than seven-in-ten respondents (72 percent) said that improving their vision will also help them feel better about themselves and give them more confidence.
Comprehensive Eye Exams are Lacking
Despite these reported beliefs, however, only half (54 percent) of survey participants have ever had a comprehensive eye exam-an examination conducted in an office by an eyecare professional that checks not just for vision correction needs, but also for overall eye health. More than one-in-three parents/caregivers have never taken their child under 18 years of age for any type of vision assessment.