Glaucoma is a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. If left untreated it can cause irreversible loss of peripheral (side) vision and eventually central vision or total blindness. It is usually caused by increased pressure in the eye, but it can also occur with normal eye pressure. Glaucoma is known as “the silent thief of vision” because early on in the disease process there are little or no symptoms. Early detection is the key to limiting damage from this insidious painless cause of vision loss.
Your eyes are covered by a tear film that helps keep your vision clear and comfortable. When that layer is damaged in some way, the result is a destabilized tear film that results in dry eye syndrome. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. The most common symptom of dry eye disease is an inability to form that protective coating, which leads to blurred vision and discomfort. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids causing red, irritated, itchy eyelids and the formation of dandruff-like scales on eyelashes. It is a common eye disorder caused by either bacteria or a skin condition (such as acne rosacea) and affects people of all ages. Although uncomfortable, blepharitis is not contagious and generally does not cause any permanent damage to eyesight.
There are various causes of ocular allergies. Some symptoms can be seasonal, occurring most often in the late spring or fall when pollen is the highest. Treatment goal is prevention and limiting or reducing the symptoms associated with the allergies. Cold compresses, artificial tears, topical decongestants and topical antihistamines are typical treatment strategies. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or a topical steroid.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens. When the natural lens experiences this clouding effect, vision quality is diminished. Many people describe this sensation as looking through a foggy car window or a piece of wax paper. The lens in your eye is responsible for focusing light rays on the retina, which is the part of the eye that senses light and transmits these images to the brain. When the natural lens becomes cloudy, light rays cannot pass through. Vision becomes blurry at this point and as the cataract develops it becomes increasingly difficult to see. Developing cataracts is part of the normal aging process.
Macular degeneration is a common condition which affects older individuals increasingly after the age of 60. The macula is the center of the retina in the back of the eye and is responsible for the central part of the vision allowing us to read and see fine detail. With age, this central portion of the retina can undergo degenerative changes which, if severe, can lead to serious loss of central vision. Recently it has become clear that genetics play a major role in the susceptibility of macular degeneration and a family history of it in parents and siblings is a risk factor. Other risk factors include smoking, female gender, light colored eyes and farsightedness.