When to Seek Medical Help for an Eye Problem
Many eye problems begin to occur as a result of the aging process. This is because as we get older, many parts of our body begin to deteriorate. Not only can this affect our overall health, but it also has the potential to impact the health of our eyes and the quality of our vision.
One of the most common age-related eye changes is presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs when the natural lens of the eye begins to dry out and harden. This causes the lens to lose its ability to change shape. As a result, the patient experiences a decline in vision. Despite this effect, presbyopia isn’t serious and can usually be corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Common Medical Eye Problems & Symptoms
Unfortunately, there are many other eye problems that can only be resolved by seeking medical help from our eye doctor. Again, these are particularly common amongst older patients, but they can occur at any age.
Here’s what you need to know about some of the most common medical eye problems, their symptoms, and when you should seek medical help.
Glaucoma is a common eye condition, particularly in older people, and is a leading cause of irreversible blindness. Your risk of developing glaucoma increases with each decade after the age of 40. Glaucoma occurs when the amount of pressure within your eyes rises so much that it starts to cause damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting messages to your brain so that you can determine what you can see.
There are several different types of glaucoma, but by far the most common is the one which develops very slowly. This can make it difficult to detect the symptoms - blurred vision, halos around lights, and sensitivity to light. If you are unfortunate enough to develop acute glaucoma, you may also experience severe eye pain, nausea, and vomiting. With glaucoma, urgent treatment is needed to get the pressure within your eyes under control, particularly since any vision lost as a result of glaucoma cannot be restored. Our eye doctor will be able to explain the various treatments to you, which can include eye drops and laser treatment.
Cataracts are also common and are especially prevalent in people over the age of 65. The condition occurs when the proteins within the natural lens of the eye start to change, clumping together and causing cloudy patches in your vision.
Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes, and at the same rate or differing ones. Common symptoms can include:
Your vision seems as though you are looking through frosted glass
Colors appear faded
Sensitivity to light/glare
Difficulty seeing at night
Frequent changes in your prescription for glasses or contact lenses
Fortunately, our eye doctor will be able to diagnose and treat cataracts fairly easily. There is one option for treatment, and this is a surgical lens exchange during which the clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one that can’t develop cataracts.
Dry eyes are a chronic eye condition that isn’t usually serious but can be debilitating. Dry eyes occur when tear film that usually coats the surface of the eyes and keeps them comfortable isn’t being produced in enough quantity, drains too quickly, or doesn’t contain the right combination and balance of substances. Dry eyes are also a common side effect of some medications.
Symptoms of dry eyes include but aren’t limited to:
Sensitivity to light
Eyes that feel stiff, dry and hard to move around
Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
Scratchy, irritated eyes
Redness of the eyes
Difficulty wearing contact lenses
Although dry eyes aren’t an emergency if the symptoms are difficult to manage you should always seek the support of your eye doctor. They can offer you a range of treatments including various eye drops, ointments, medications, and even some technology-based solutions which can alleviate your symptoms.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and occurs when persistently high blood sugar levels damage the retina at the back of the eye which receives and transmits visual messages to the brain. If left untreated for months or years, it can cause irreparable damage to your vision.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
Impaired color vision
Floaters in your field of vision
Poor night vision
Patches or streaks that block your vision
Most patients with diabetes are regularly screened to ensure that they aren’t developing diabetic retinopathy. If you are diagnosed with the condition, you will need treatment to eliminate your symptoms and protect your vision. In addition to getting your diabetes firmly under control, this may include eye injections or laser treatment.
Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is a condition that occurs when the cells in the part of the eye called the macula to begin to deteriorate. Macular degeneration affects the middle part of your vision. While it doesn’t cause total blindness, it can make day to day activities difficult, such as reading, watching television, and recognizing faces.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
Blurred/distorted areas in your central vision
Straight lines appear crooked or wavy
Colors seem less bright
Objects seem smaller than normal
There are two types of macular degeneration. Our eye doctor will be able to tell you which type you have and if there is any treatment available. Unfortunately, with the most common type of AMD, patients can only manage their condition as there is no actual ‘cure’.
If you have any concerns about the health of your eyes or your vision, it is always advisable to speak to our eye doctor as soon as you can. Call our expert Sunnyside eye care team today at 718-565-2020.