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10 Most Common Eye Diseases: Understanding the Causes Symptoms Prevention

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone should have a comprehensive detailed eye-exam at the age of 40 to establish a baseline for eye health. After the age of 65, you should have your eyes checked every one to two years. A comprehensive exam can detect early signs of eye problems or damage – many age-related eye diseases have no symptoms until they are at advanced stages. If you are at high risk for eye disease, such as having diabetes, you should visit your eye doctor yearly, no matter of your age. This article aims to present a comprehensive guide to the symptoms, causes, treatment of 10 most common eye diseases and empower you with the knowledge of how you can take care of your eyes from fungal eye infection.

10 most common eye diseases

Other steps you can take that may reduce the risk for future vision problems include wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays and wide-brimmed hat in bright sunlight and using protective eyewear when participating in sports, work or hobbies that can cause eye injury.

Unfortunately, aging is a major, uncontrollable risk factor for eye problems. It is helpful to be aware of how aging affects your eyes and to become familiar with your other risk factors and any warning signs of potential vision problems. Here are the 10 most common eye diseases.

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10 most common eye diseases with symptoms treatment:

1. Presbyopia:

It is the problem with inability to focus on nearby objects. It occurs when the lens thickens and becomes more rigid. Aging also affects the ciliary muscles that change the lens shape, making it harder for the eye to bring close objects into focus.

Treatment:

Reading glasses or other corrective lenses are the main treatments for Presbyopia. Laser surgery is another option.

2. Dry Eye Syndrome:

Dry eye syndrome produces an itchy, gritty feeling in your eyes, possibly with pain, stinging or burning. It is often caused by low quality tears or decreased tear production. (Tear glands can shrink with age). Dry eye can also be a side effect of medication such as some antihistamines and antidepressants. Ironically, dry eye can stimulate tear glands to overproduce which causes watery eyes.

Symptoms:

Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include persistent dryness and irritation in the eyes, a burning sensation and an itchy feeling. Individuals with dry eye syndrome may experience excessive tearing as the eyes attempt to compensate for the lack of moisture. Other symptoms include sensitivity to light, blurred vision and difficulty wearing contact lenses.

Treatment:

Mild cases of dry eye can often be managed using over-counter artificial tear solutions. If such lubricating products don’t work, your doctor can prescribe special eye drops to reduce inflammation of the tear glands.

3. Blepharitis:

It is marked by swelling, redness and sometimes crusting and shallow lid ulcers along the edges, or margins of the eyelids, making eyes itchy and watery. Blepharitis is caused by inflammation, usually from an infection, an allergic reaction or a skin condition.

Symptoms:

Individuals with blepharitis may experience redness and swelling of the eyelid margins, along with  feeling of irritation or itching around eyes. Another symptom of blepharitis is that the eyelids may become greasy or oily, leading to a sticky sensation.

Treatment:

Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment and direct you to carefully cleanse the edges of the eyelids each day.

4. Ptosis (Pronounced TOE-sis):

It causes droopy, hooded eyelid and is typically a result of the normal aging process – the eyelids muscle can weaken or the skin on the upper eyelids can loosen. It can also occur after cataract or other eye surgery or an eye injury. Ptosis can affect one or both eyelids. Dropping eyelids can sometimes obscure vision, requiring corrective surgery.

Symptoms:

The main symptoms of ptosis is the noticeable downward displacement of the upper eyelids, which can lead to reduction in the field of vision. The patients with ptosis may suffer from eye strain, fatigue, headaches specially when the condition is worsen.

Treatment:

The treatment of ptosis varies according to the severity, cause and impact. In mild cases of ptosis, no treatment is required, but a regular follow-up is required by an ophthalmologist. But in the severe cases of ptosis, when it causes vision impairment, then surgical intervention is required.

5. Flashes:

Flashes are actually visual sensations of quick bursts or streaks of light. Flashes occur when the vitreous humor – a thick, gel-like substance that fills the back of the eyeball – pulls on the retina.

Floaters are black spots, lines, cobwebs or other shapes that drift through the field of vision. They are actually images of particles floating in the fluid that fills the eyeball. Floaters usually do not indicate a serious vision problem if they have developed gradually and have not changed much over months or years. But a sudden onset of new floaters or the onset of flashes may signal a retinal detachment, tear or other problem that requires immediate ophthalmic care.

6. Cataracts:

Cataracts cause the lens to cloud and usually occur in both eyes at the same time. As a result, the abilities to perceive fine detail and distinguish certain colors gradually decline. Eventually, symptoms (most commonly blurred vision and glare) become disabling. Besides age, other risk factors include smoking, prolonged use of corticosteroids, alcohol use, excessive sunlight exposure and diabetes.

Symptoms:

People suffering from cataracts may experience blurred or hazy vision which may make it difficult to see normally. People with cataracts may experience sensitivity to light and may lead to problem of seeing in low light.

Treatment:

Cataracts are typically treated with surgery to replace the clouded lens with artificial lens implant.

7. Age-related macula degeneration (AMD):

It is most common cause of vision loss for people ages around 65 and older. There are two forms of AMD – dry and wet. Both are caused by damage to the eye’s  macula, a small area at the center of the retina that is responsible for sharp, central vision. AMD can affect one or both eyes and usually has no early warning signs. Symptoms may develop gradually in dry AMD, whereas wet AMD symptoms can occur in a matter of days or weeks. Symptoms in both forms include a greyness, haziness or blank spot in central vision. Words on a page may be blurred, straight lines may appear to have a wave in them, and objects may seem smaller than they actually are. Risk factors for AMD include family history and smoking.

Treatment:

AMD can not be cured, but treatment can offer reduce the likelihood of its progression. Studies suggest high-dose vitamin and mineral supplements may reduce the likelihood of dry AMD progression. A new innovation for people with end-stage dry or wet AMD, is a surgical procedure which involves replacing the eye’s lens with an Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT), a tiny telescope to enhance vision.

For wet AMD, the mainstay of treatment is monthly or bimonthly eye infections of drugs to inhibit growth of abnormal blood vessels. Although this treatment requires frequent visits to the ophthalmologist and intraocular injections, it can stop further vision loss in nearly all patients and can recover some vision function in about one-third of individuals.

8. Glaucoma:

Glaucoma occurs when pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve. Symptoms normally don’t appear until the disease is later stages and can include a loss of peripheral or side vision or blind spots. Risk factors include corticosteroid use, diabetes, a thin cornea and family history of glaucoma.

Treatment:

The big problem with glaucoma is that whatever vision is lost is permanent and you can not get it back. So early detection is vital for glaucoma treatment.

Now the two things which have changed in glaucoma treatment over the last few years are the instruments used to diagnose glaucoma. The newer instruments like the Heidelberg. System gives a very high level of accuracy so much that you can detect glaucoma five years before it even starts affecting you.

Even the treatment for glaucoma has become non-invasive. In the new system you only thin out the white of the eye so that the filtration can occur by itself. A tiny fluted valve releases the pressure and the fluid drains out. Surgery is only done when the high pressure can not be controlled with the help of medication, i.e eye drops. The valves are better option than the open eye surgery because if the pressure levels are 20% more than the normal, then the simple filtering surgery is inadequate.

The most common form of the disorder, open-angle glaucoma can often be treated with drugs or surgery, but life-long use of medication is almost always necessary.

9. Diabetic Retinopathy:

Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when chronic high blood glucose levels damage small blood vessels in the retina of people with diabetes. Development of diabetic retinopathy is strongly related to the disease’s duration and the degree of glucose control.

Symptoms:

The disease generally causes no symptoms in its early stage. Later, blurry vision, floaters, flashes of light or dark shadow in the area of peripheral vision may appear, as can sudden blindness in one eye.

Treatment:

The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to control your blood sugar,  high blood pressure level and cholesterol and get regular physical and eye exams. These same measures are used to treat diabetic retinopathy when it is diagnosed early. You will also be monitored for the development of diabetic macular edema (DME) – when the macula swells as a result of fluid leakage and accumulation – or proliferative retinopathy (PDR) – the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. These features of diabetic retinopathy can be managed with intraocular injection of medication, laser surgery and direct surgery on the retina.

10. Fuchs dystrophy:

Fuchs dystrophy is characterized by the slow degeneration of the cells in the innermost or interior layer of the cornea. Less common than other serious eye diseases, it can be just as serious, resulting in vision loss if not treated. Fuchs dystrophy is inherited and decompensation of the cornea can occur in the context of cataract or other ocular surgery in susceptible individuals.

Symptoms :

Symptoms include a generalized haze or blur and problems with glare that at first tend to be worse in the morning. Blisters that cause eye pain may form.

Treatment:

As the disease progresses, eye drops or ointments can reduce symptoms, but only corneal transplantation surgery can help restore.

What is fungal eye infection:

A fungal eye infection, also known as fungal keratitis or ocular mycosis is a service condition that affects the cornea of the eye and plays a vital role in vision. When the protective layer is infected by fungi, it can lead to various complications and potential vision loss if left untreated.

Causes of Fungal Eye Infection:

Fungal eye infections are primarily caused by exposure to certain types of fungi. These fungi can be found in the environment and their spores can enter the eye through various means. The most common causes of fungal eye infection are:

  • use of unclean or disinfecting contact lenses.
  • working in an unhygienic environment
  • poor immune system or suffering from diabetes
  • swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
  • handling the eyes with unhygienic hands or towels

Symptoms:

The early signs and symptoms of fungal eye infection appear with redness and irritation of eyes. The fungal eye infection may cause itching or even eye pain as the infection develops. So it is recommended to treat the infection as early as possible as an infection progresses, you may experience blurry vision.

Treatment:

If you suspect a fungal eye infection, it is very important to seek medical advices. A sample of the infected cornea may be collected through a procedure called corneal scraping. In many cases, microscope is used to examine the corneal sample for the presence of fungal elements. Then sample is analyzed to identify the specific fungus causing the infection. Once the specific fungus is identified, then ophthalmologist will prescribe targeted antifungal medications.

In severe cases, when the infection has led to corneal damage, surgical intervention may be required then.

Conclusion:

Regular checkups are necessary with the symptoms of above mentioned 10 most common eye diseases if you have any risk factors, especially diabetes – for a serious eye diseases or if your are in fair or poor general health. If you have already a serious vision impairment symptoms, seek appropriate treatment to prevent vision loss. Always keep in mind that your eyes are important. So any signs of vision problems should not be ignored.

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Hi, I am Tanushree, a general health consultant and advisor provide advices and knowledge on health and nutrition.

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