Many eye conditions develop slowly and the symptoms may be difficult for you to detect in the early stages. Some symptoms are common among both natural vision problems and dangerous eye diseases. An annual visit to your Ophthalmologist can detect eye diseases and conditions that that can cause irreversible damage to your eyes if allowed to progress without treatment.
For more information about eye disease and conditions visit the eye health information web site of the American Academy of Ophthalmology at www.geteyesmart.org.
- blurry vision when looking at distant objects
- headaches due to eyestrain
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the eyes’ inability to focus on far away objects. People who are nearsighted will usually see objects close to them clearly, while objects further away appear blurry.
Myopia is a common naturally occurring eye disorder that cannot be prevented. Nearsightedness tends to run in families, but you don’t need to have a myopic parent to develop it. Myopia begins at an early age and worsens in the teenage years, but generally stabilizes in adulthood.
With normal vision, an image is sharply focused onto the retina at the back of your eye. When you are nearsighted, or myopic, the point of focus falls short of the retina, allowing you to see near objects more clearly, but distant objects will appear blurred.
- blurry vision when looking at near objects
- headaches when reading
- eye strain or burning
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is the eyes’ inability to focus clearly on nearby objects. People who are farsighted often see distant objects clearly, while objects nearby most often appear blurry.
Hyperopia is a common naturally occurring eye disorder that cannot be prevented. Farsightedness tends to run in families, but you don’t need to have a hyperopic parent to develop it.
With normal vision, an image is sharply focused onto the retina at the back of your eye. When you are farsighted, the point of focus falls beyond the retina, allowing you to see distant objects clearly, but objects that are near will appear blurred. For very farsighted individuals, vision can be blurry for objects at any distance, near or far.
- Blurred vision at normal reading distance, including while wearing your normal
glasses or contact lenses
- Holding reading materials at arm’s length to focus properly
- Fatigue while reading or doing close-up work such as sewing
Presbyopia is the gradual decline of your eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects due to an age-related loss in flexibility of the eye’s lens. Nearly everyone experiences presbyopia by their mid-40s.
- Blurring or distortion of images at all distances
- Eye discomfort or irritation
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Trouble distinguishing between similar letters and numbers like P and F or B and 8
Astigmatism is an uneven or irregularly shaped cornea or lens. This irregular shape causes light to bend and distort as it passes through the lens, making objects appear blurry or unfocused. Astigmatism is most often hereditary and is common in people of all ages, however, it can also be a result of surgery or trauma, injury, infection or certain rare conditions that cause the shape of the cornea to change over time. People who are nearsighted or farsighted have a good chance of also having some level of astigmatism.
- Cloudy vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Halos around lights
- Frequent changes in glasses or contacts prescriptions
- Double vision in one eye
- Poor night vision
- Light sensitivity
- Seeing faded colors
A cataract is a vision impairment resulting from a cloudiness of the lens in the eye that prevents light from being focused clearly on the retina. Cataracts typically form naturally with age.
Surgery is the only way to remove cataracts and restore vision. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the United States. Some eye diseases or medical conditions can increase the risk for complications from cataract surgery, so it is important to discuss your medical history with your Ophthalmologist.
- Vision loss in the periphery or side
- As glaucoma progresses, you may notice that you’re missing things to the side and are developing tunnel vision.
These symptoms can indicate that eye pressure has risen quickly and indicate a medical emergency. They may come and go at first, or get worse steadily.
- Sudden, severe pain in one eye
- Decreased or cloudy vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rainbow-like halos around lights
- Red eye
- Eye feels swollen
- Pain above the eyebrows
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that results in damage to the optic nerve. Left untreated, glaucoma can result in gradual, irreversible loss of vision and eventually blindness. Symptoms commonly go unnoticed in the early stages, making regular comprehensive eye exams by an Ophthalmologist important.
- Eye dryness
- Eye irritation
- Scratchy eyes
- Burning or stinging eyes
- Gritty eyes
- Tired eyes
- Fluctuating or blurry vision
- Excessive tearing
Dry Eye is a condition caused by changes in the quantity or quality of your tears. Tears are composed of three main layers that work together to keep your eyes comfortable and protected. If these layers become imbalanced, your tears will evaporate too quickly, causing your eyes to feel dry and irritated.
Other diseases and conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, as well as common medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can cause dry eye by reducing tear secretion, so be sure to discuss your medical history with your Ophthalmologist.
- Itchy eyes
- Red, irritated eyes
- Watery or tearing eyes
- Swelling or inflammation of the eye or eyelids
- Burning in the eye
- Sensitivity to light
Eye allergies occur when the eyes react to something that irritates them, causing the eyes to produce histamine. Unlike bacterial or viral eye infections, eye allergies can not be spread from person to person.
People who suffer from eye allergies usually also have nasal allergies. Eye allergies are usually a temporary condition associated with seasonal allergies. Eye allergies can also develop from exposure to other environmental triggers, such as pet dander, dust, smoke, perfumes, and foods.
- Red eyes
- Eye discharge
- Watery eyes
- Dry eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Swollen eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
- Blurry vision
Anytime you suspect an eye infection, you should visit your Ophthalmologist for an eye exam. If you wear contact lenses, you should wear only your eyeglasses until you have visited your eye doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
- The need for brighter light when reading or doing close work
- Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit room
- Increasing blurriness of printed words
- A decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- A gradual increase in the haziness of your central or overall vision
- Crooked central vision
- A blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision
- Hallucinations of geometric shapes or people
Age-related macular degeneration is a deterioration of the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. It usually begins in one eye, thought it may affect the other eye later. Macular degeneration usually does not affect your peripheral vision and almost never causes total blindness. Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process.