Sometimes called "lazy eye," amblyopia is a condition resulting in decreased vision that results from abnormal visual development in infancy and early childhood. Lazy eve develops when nerve pathway between the brain and the eye aren't properly stimulated. As a result, the brain favors one eye, resulting in reduce vision in the lazy eye. The weaker eye.
Symptoms of amblyopia may not always be obvious but there are things to look for in your child: favoring one eye over the other, objecting having one eye covered, bumping into objects on one side, one eye turning inward or outward, difficulty with depth perception.
Usually doctors can correct lazy eye with eye patching, eye drops and glasses. Sometimes lazy eye requires surgical treatment. It is important to catch it early.
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye. This is a common eye condition that occurs as we age. Not all cataracts need to be removed.
The symptoms of cataracts include: blurring or clouding of vision, decreased ability to read, need for bright light, seeing halos or glare around lights, fading or yellowing of colors.
Surgery is generally recommended when your vision is interfering with your daily activities.
DIABETIC EYE DISEASE
Diabetes can cause changes in the back of the eye called diabetic retinopathy the blood vessels in the back of the eye can swell and leak and/or new, fragile blood vessels may form that can cause severe bleeding into the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills the middle of your eye. Any of these changes can have devastating effects on your vision.
Many times there are no symptoms and you may not know you have diabetic retinopathy. Once symptoms such as blurred vision, many floaters, shadows or severe loss of vision occur, vision recovery is more challenging. The best way to avoid vision loss is to have annual eye exams if you are diabetic.
Dry eyes are a condition where one does not produce enough tears or the correct quality of tears. Sometimes your eye even waters when it is dry from the irritating feeling which causes reflex tears.
Symptoms of dry eyes include: stinging or burning eyes, stringy mucous in eyes, scratchy irritating sensation, feeling of something in eyes, excessive tearing.
Dry eyes can be caused by reduced tear production which can occur as we age. Dry eyes can also be associated with other conditions such as arthritis, lupus and some thyroid conditions. Some medication can also cause the eyes to become dry.
Dry eyes are treated by adding lubrication in the form of artificial tear drops or ointment. A prescription drop is available that helps our eyes increase tear production. Tear duct plugs are sometimes inserted to help keep more tears in the eyes. Using a humidifier may help as well.
FLASHES AND FLOATERS
If you see specks or strings or other small shapes moving about in your vision, these are called floaters. These floaters are clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear gel-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes. You are actually seeing the shadow they cast of the retina, the light sensitive cells in the back of your eye that allows us to see. Seeing many floaters all at once may be a more serious problem, such as bleeding inside the eye. If any of these symptoms are associated with flashing lights in your vision, this indicates that the vitreous is tugging on the retina. This traction can pull a hole or tear in the retina which could lead to a more serious problem, a retinal detachment. A few floaters are quite common and should not cause alarm. If you see many floaters any any flashing in you vision, you should call for an evaluation soon.
Glaucoma is an eye disease caused by elevated eye pressure that causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries all the visual messages to the brain. If it damaged, it cannot work effectively, leading to loss of vision.
Glaucoma is often called "the silent thief of sight" because it is usually symptom free until it becomes severe and vision loss is noticed. It slowly takes away your side vision, leaving you with tunnel vision or total blindness. Early detection is essential to avoid vision loss.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
- Family history of glaucoma
- High eye pressure
- Over age 60
- African or Latino descent
- Severe nearsightedness
- Regular use of steroids (even topical steroids such as cortisone)
- High blood pressure
Treating glaucoma usually begins with eyedrops. Laser treatment is also used in the treatment of glaucoma. There are also surgical interventions if the eye pressure cannot be otherwise controlled.
Macular degeneration is a disease of the central retina known as the macula. The macula is the area of the retina that allows us to see centrally and see fine details such as reading, driving and threading needles. Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss in people over 50.
Macular degeneration can be dry or wet. In dry macular degeneration there is a thinning of macular tissue. Vision loss is usually gradual. In wet macular degeneration vision loss can be rapid. Abnormal blood vessels from underneath the retina and cause fluid or blood to leak out causing distortion or blurred spots in the central vision. Macular degeneration alone does not cause total blindness. Side vision usually remain intact.
Nutritional supplements in the form of antioxidant, vitamins and zinc are recommended to help slow down the progression of the disease. If leakage does occur, other treatments are available such as injecting a drug into the eye that helps stop the abnormal blood vessel growth. Sometimes laser treatment can also be used.
Risk factors of macular degeneration are:
- Being over 50 years old
- Having a family history of macular degeneration
- Cigarette smoking
If you are over the age of 45 or if your family has a history of retinal problems such as macular degeneration, you should have your eyes checked periodically.
Your ophthalmologist or optometrist will examine your eyes with an ophthalmoscope to see if damage is present in the macula. Should macular degeneration be apparent, further tests will be done. These include the Amsler's Chart.
How To Test Yourself With the Amsler Grid
If you need reading glasses, please wear them while you use the Amsler grid. The grid should be at about the same distance from your eyes that any other reading material would be.
You may want to print this page and then take the test.
Cover one eye, then focus on the dot in the center.
• Do any of the lines look wavy, blurred or distorted? (All lines should be straight, all intersections should form right angles and all the squares should be the same size.)
• Are there any missing areas or dark areas in the grid? • Can you see all corners and sides of the grid? • Don’t forget to test both eyes.
VERY IMPORTANT: Report any irregularity to your eye doctor immediately. You can mark areas of the chart that you’re not seeing properly and bring it with you to your eye exam.