The human visual system is an amazing network of anatomical structures. Even minor changes in the structure or function of a component of the eye can significantly affect visual acuity. Because we rely so heavily on our visual system to receive and process information, it is essential to keep the eyes functioning properly. Visit your eye care provider regularly for a vision check-up to ensure any of these common eye conditions are diagnosed and treated properly.
Dry eye is a highly common -- and vexing -- eye condition. Dry eye develops when your eye no longer produces an appropriate tear layer. Tears lubricate the surface of the eye, protect against infection, and ensure clear vision. Dry eye can be associated with age, environmental irritants, certain medications, and medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems, and rheumatoid arthritis. An eye care provider may recommend medications, dietary changes, or surgery to rectify the problems associated with dry eye.
If the cornea, the front part of the eyeball, is shaped incorrectly, light does not focus properly on the retina. This leads to blurred vision regardless of the distance you are from an object. Although most people have a slight amount of astigmatism, it becomes problematic when it causes visual distortions, blurred vision, headaches, or eye discomfort. Fortunately, astigmatism is easily corrected by prescription glasses or contacts.
Many people do not have perfect 20/20 vision. When their visual deficits cannot be improved with the best possible glasses, individuals are considered to have low vision. Low vision may be associated with severe medical conditions or trauma to the eye. An optometry exam can identify cases of non-correctable low vision and options for low vision care.
As your eyes get older, the lens of your eye may become cloudy. By age 80, nearly half of individuals develop some lens clouding, referred to as cataracts. Cataracts can also form through genetic disorders or other medical conditions. Symptoms include blurred vision, changes in colored vision, poor night vision, or double vision. The early symptoms of cataracts can be reduced by changes in lenses or lighting conditions. In later stages, surgical removal of the cataract may be warranted.
Glaucoma does not refer to damage to the eyeball itself, but rather to the optic nerve that carries visual information to the brain. Changes in eye pressure may constrict the nerve, causing glaucoma. Medicated eye drops are a common treatment, but surgery may be necessary in severe cases.
If you experience any change in vision, visit an eye care provider immediately. An eye exam is essential to monitoring eye health, preserving your vision for life.