Myopia, also referred to as nearsightedness, is a vision condition that causes objects at a distance to appear blurry and out of focus. Objects near to the individual are typically clear. It is possible to have myopia in addition to other vision conditions.
Myopia is caused by the eye growing too long, which causes incoming light to focus in front of the retina rather than the center of the retina where it needs to focus for clear vision. Myopia can also be caused by excessive corneal curvature or a lens within the eye that is too thick.
It is easily corrected with prescription glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
Hyperopia, also known as farsightedness is a vision condition where patients can see distant objects clearer than near objects. However, when the hyperopia is significant, vision may be blurry at any distance.
Hyperopia is a result of the light being refracted behind the retina instead of on the retina due to the eyeball being too short or if the cornea has a low curvature at the front surface.
When we are young, the lenses within our eyes are more flexible and may be able to correct the hyperopic defocus. However, as we age, the lenses become less flexible and patients may need to rely more heavily on corrective glasses and contact lenses to see clearly.
Astigmatism occurs when the cornea may not be shaped like a sphere causing the light to be distorted and refract onto multiple points of the retina as opposed to just one area.
This will change the way light enters the eye and results in blurred vision at both near and far distances.
Astigmatism is a common vision condition that can be treated with prescription glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
In order for us to be able to see close objects clearly, the lens within our eye changes shape to adjust its focus. When we are young, the lens is still soft and flexible, so this change can occur easily. However, as you age, you may notice that it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on close work.
This typically occurs after the age of 40 as the eyes’ lenses gradually lose their ability to focus and adjust light onto the retina. This is a normal part of the aging process that cannot be reversed or prevented.
Though there is no way to stop presbyopia, we can treat the condition through prescription glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD, is a vision condition involving the deterioration of the macula, which is the center of the retina. This leads to a gradual loss in the sharpness of central vision, which is needed to see objects clearly and in fine detail. There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: dry age-related macular degeneration and wet age-related macular degeneration.
Dry macular degeneration is the more common form and accounts for 80% of the cases of AMD. This often occurs as the macula thins over time and protein clumps known as drusen develop in and around the macula. This type is gradual and can lead to significant vision loss.
Wet macular degeneration is more rare and often develops from dry macular degeneration as the condition progresses. Abnormal blood vessels begin to grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This can lead to permanent damage to the macular tissue and create a blind spot in the central vision.
There is no cure for AMD, however we can slow down the progression of this condition by wearing protective lenses, limiting tobacco and alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy diet.
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that results in a blockage or a change in the passage of light into the eye. The lens helps to focus light onto the retina, which then transmits images to the brain. Your vision may become blurry, dimmed, or lost as a result of a cataract.
Common symptoms of cataracts include glare, double or blurred vision, changes in color, and loss of vision.
Cataracts that develop due to age are non-preventable. However their development can be delayed by eating healthy foods that benefit eye health, regular exercise, and wearing protective eyewear.
Cataracts can be treated by cataract-removal surgery. During this procedure the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial clear lens.
Glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve is damaged, often occurring due to high or low eye pressure. Glaucoma affects your peripheral vision making it difficult to notice until it has progressed to an advanced stage.
Annual eye examinations can detect early signs of glaucoma, enabling your eye care provider to begin treatment before the condition worsens. Damage to the optic nerve is irreversible, so treatment aims to prevent any further damage.
Common treatment options for glaucoma include prescription eye drops and laser or surgical treatment.
Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye condition that occurs in patients who have diabetes. The accumulation of sugar within blood vessels associated with diabetes can affect the light sensitive tissue within the retina.
When the retina tissue is blocked by sugar, the blood vessels may begin to leak fluid or bleed. This will result in the growth of new abnormal retinal blood vessels that may be weak and continue to bleed.
The continued bleeding or leakage of fluid will lead to swelling within the retinal tissue, which can result in a loss of vision.
It is important for those who struggle with diabetes, to have annual eye exams to detect any changes to their retinas that may impair their vision.
At the back of our eyes, there is a jelly-like substance known as the vitreous that is attached to the retina. As we age, the vitreous shrinks which can lead to the formation of vitreous clumps. These clumps appear as shadows on our retina and may resemble small black dots or cobwebs floating inside our eyes.
These “floaters” are no cause for serious concern as vitreous detachment often occurs with age. Around the age of 60, patients may notice an increase in floaters, however, most patients adapt to them with time.
It is important that those with vitreous detachment continue to attend annual eye exams to ensure that the retina is fully intact as floaters may tear retinal tissue.
The light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye called the retina can separate from the back surface of the eye. This is a painless process that is referred to as a retinal detachment. Symptoms can include a sudden increase in flashes and floaters in the field of vision, a dark veil/curtain usually in the side vision, or blurry vision. A retinal detachment is an eye emergency since it can be a permanent threat to good vision. During an eye exam, an eye doctor will dilate the eyes and make sure the retina is fully intact. They will also look at a variety of factors such as your prescription to see if you are at a high risk for a retinal detachment. It is important to contact your eye doctor or go to the emergency room as soon as possible if you suspect you are having a retinal detachment especially if you are in a high-risk category.
Belpharitis refers to inflammation of the eyelid. This may be the result of debris buildup along the lash line or lashes. The debris can irritate the eyelid and eyes leading to itching, burning, or tearing.
This condition is easily treated by using eyelid scrubs or wipes to clean along the lash line.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Meibomian gland dysfunction, also known as MGD, refers to the blockage of the oil glands in the eyelids, also known as the meibomian glands. There are approximately 35 oils glands along the upper lid and 25 oil glands on the lower eyelid. These glands produce essential oils onto the surface of the eye.
The oil prevents the tear layer on your eye’s surface from evaporating too quickly. MGD is commonly associated with blepharitis and dry eye syndrome.
This condition can be treated by regularly applying a warm compress to the eye as the warmth helps to melt oils and remove the blockage from the glands.
Keratoconus, is a vision condition where the surface of the cornea begins to thin and develops into a more cone-like shape.
Symptoms of Keratoconus include blurred vision that cannot be corrected with prescription glasses. Treatment for this condition involves custom contact lenses (scleral lenses) design to compensate for the irregular curvature of the eye. However, in late stages of the Keratonconus, contact lenses may prove ineffective and the patient may be recommended to undergo a corneal transplant.
Annual eye exams can help to detect Keratoconus at an earlier stage which is the ideal time for treatment. If detected early, cross-linking can be used as a surgical treatment option. This procedure involves shining UV rays onto the cornea to stabilize corneal tissues and fibers to help maintain shape. Cross-linking does not reverse keratoconus, but can prevent the condition from progressing.
Amblyopia / Strabismus
Amblyopia sometimes referred to as a “lazy eye” is described as a reduction in vision that is not due to a pathological reason or cannot be fixed by prescription glasses. This usually occurs during childhood as a result of a disruption in the development of the typical connections between the visual pathway and the brain. Therefore, without treatment the brain will not be able to process information from the visual pathway leading to lifelong vision that is less than 20/20. This vision reduction commonly affects only one eye but there are cases where both eyes have less than perfect 20/20 vision.
One of the most common reasons for amblyopia is strabismus, which is also referred to as “crossed eyes”. In most strabismus cases there is a misalignment between the eyes in which one eye is primarily in the typical straight position and the other eye is primarily turned up, down, left or right. An eye turn can lead to double vision/blurred vision; children adapt to this by suppressing the image produced by the turned eye. However, by not processing the image produced by the turned eye it cannot develop the connections needed between the eyes and the brain leading to less than 20/20 vision. Effective treatments for amblyopia include patching the better-seeing eye as well as using blurring eye drops on the good eye. This treatment will force the child to use the eye with the decreased vision increasing visual stimulation to the ignored or “worse” eye. Amblyopia must be treated as soon as possible since treatment is the most successful during childhood when the network between the brain and the eyes are still developing.