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Overall Eye Health: All You Need to Know

What is Eye Health?|Signs and Symptoms|Causes and Risk Factors|Diagnosis|Treatment|Prevention|Key Takeaways
Overall Eye Health: All You Need to Know

What is Eye Health?

Did you know that the eyes are the most developed out of the sensory organs in our body? And it makes sense, since we depend on our eyesight in order to do most of our daily activities. From cooking breakfast, taking a bath, going to work, choosing what to eat for lunch, and so on, we use our eyes to help us get things done and make sense of the world around us.

But since we use our eyes all the time, it is so easy to sometimes take it for granted. A lot of us do not even realize just how difficult things would be if we lose our vision altogether. This is the reason why taking care of our eyes is very important.

Maintaining good eye health should always be a priority. A good way to start would be to know what eye problems can damage or affect our eyesight.

What Are Some Common Eye Problems?

Eye problems are diseases or conditions that make it difficult to see or can even make you lose your vision completely. Knowing what these problems are can help you take steps in preventing these problems from happening. Here are some common eye problems that people experience:

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors are among the most common eye problems that people experience. This includes conditions such as myopia or nearsightedness, hyperopia or farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia, which causes older people to have difficulty seeing at near.

While these can cause difficulty in seeing without treatment, refractive errors rarely cause people to lose their vision completely. This usually happens in more extreme cases, and should not be a cause for concern for most people.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is when the macula, or the part of the eye that gives you sharp and clear vision, experiences problems that cause your vision to get blurry. Unlike refractive errors, macular degeneration is a progressive disease that can cause a person to lose their eyesight over time.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of conditions that affects a person’s optic nerve, or the nerve that connects the eyes to the brain. Vision loss due to glaucoma is permanent and can sometimes happen over a long period of time, or it can also happen suddenly. People with glaucoma also experience a lot of pain in their eyes.

Cataracts

Cataract is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. It is a condition that causes the lens of the eyes to get cloudy, and can eventually cause vision loss. Cataracts can happen at any age, but they are most common among older people. This can usually be treated through surgery.

Ambylopia

Another eye problem is called ambylopia, also known as lazy eye. This is most common in children and happens when the brain and the eyes are not working together. This causes the brain to favor one eye over the other and can cause vision impairment as a result.

Strabismus

Strabismus is a condition that has to do with how the eyes are positioned. People with strabismus can either have esotropia or exotropia. Esotropia is commonly known as being cross-eyed.

Strabismus causes the eyes to focus on different directions, and not at the same point. This can cause a loss of depth perception or even permanent vision loss in one eye.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of eye problems can vary depending on the condition. But here are some of the more common symptoms that people with vision problems experience:

  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Colors look faded or muted
  • Double vision
  • Needing to read things up close
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Eye pain
  • Seeing a “halo” around light
  • Difficulty seeing things up close
  • Difficulty seeing things further away

Any combination of these symptoms can mean that you might have some problems with your eyes.

When Should I See My Doctor?

If you experience any of the symptoms above, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. Most eye problems are a progressive condition, which means that it can get worse over time.

Certain eye conditions can become serious, and even cancerous.

Causes and Risk Factors

Maintaining good eye health at a young age helps reduce the risk of developing vision problems when you are older. Getting treatment early on can help prevent problems down the road.

What Causes Eye Problems?

Eye problems can be caused by a number of things, such as the following:

  • Certain conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts can be inherited
  • Refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism are affected by genetics as well
  • Ambylopia and strabismus usually happen to children with developmental delays or are born prematurely
  • Health conditions such as diabetes can also cause blindness
  • Old age also plays a role, as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts usually appear in old age
  • In some cases, trauma or damage to the eyes can also cause blindness or vision problems
  • A lack of vitamin A, which plays a role in your eyes’ function, can cause vision problems
  • Having high blood pressure or hypertension can also damage the blood vessels in your eyes

What Are the Risk Factors for Eye Problems?

Here are some possible risk factors for eye problems:

  • Most eye problems are genetic, so having parents with eye problems can increase your risk
  • Not maintaining good eye health, such as not wearing sunglasses in bright sunlight, can increase the risk of eye damage
  • Being obese or overweight increases your risk of diabetes, which can cause blindness
  • Hypertension is another risk factor for eye problems
  • Diabetes is one of the most common diseases that can affect your eyes
  • Ignoring the symptoms of eye problems can also increase the risk for worse problems later on

Diagnosis

In terms of diagnosis, your doctor would usually conduct several tests to see how healthy your eyes are. These include the following:

  • Vision screening, or an eye test, can be done by your doctor in order to check your eyesight
  • In some cases, a retina scan might be required in order to get a closer look at your retina and optic nerve
  • A dilated eye exam is a procedure wherein your doctor conducts a number of tests to thoroughly assess your eye status. This is a great way of diagnosing eye problems early on
  • Your doctor will also check for other symptoms such as headaches, pain in the eyes, and blurred vision to help form a diagnosis

Once your doctor has diagnosed your condition, treatment can start.

Treatment

Treatment for eye problems depends on what condition a person has. Here are some possible forms of treatment for eye problems:

  • For refractive errors, corrective lenses are usually the best form of treatment
  • Eyeglasses can also be used for ambylopia and strabismus, along with vision therapy and eye muscle surgery
  • For cataracts, surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens can be done
  • Medication, laser treatment, and surgery can be used to treat glaucoma
  • In some cases, vision problems can’t be cured. Instead, treatment in order to manage the symptoms is provided.

Prevention

Your eyes are very important, and making sure that you avoid eye problems is crucial when it comes to maintaining good eye health. Here are some important things to remember:

  • Be sure to protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses when the sun is too bright, and wear safety glasses when working in an area that has dust or debris that can damage your eyes.
  • Engage in daily exercise. Exercise reduces your risk of diabetes, which can cause blindness.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Aside from lowering your risk of diabetes, having a balanced diet ensures that your eyes get enough nutrients to function properly.
  • If you notice any symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor. Any blurring in your vision, pain in your eyes, difficulty seeing, should always be consulted with your doctor. Early treatment is crucial in preventing further eye problems.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking increases the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration, as well as a host of other health problems.
  • Rest your eyes. Your eyes need to rest too, especially if you are in front of the computer for an extended period of time.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to maintaining good eye health, the most important thing to know is to be mindful of any changes in your eyesight. Most of the time, it can be hard to notice the early signs of eye problems. But if you take the time to read up and keep yourself informed of what to watch out for, you can avoid having eye problems in the future.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Eye Care | Vision Care | MedlinePlus, https://medlineplus.gov/eyecare.html, Accessed June 11 2020

Keep Your Eyes Healthy | National Eye Institute, https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/healthy-vision/keep-your-eyes-healthy, Accessed June 11 2020

5 truths about protecting your eyes – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/5-truths-about-protecting-your-eyes, Accessed June 11 2020

Vision Loss – Symptoms and Treatment | familydoctor.org, https://familydoctor.org/condition/vision-loss/, Accessed June 11 2020

Common Eye Disorders | Basics | VHI | CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html#:~:text=The%20leading%20causes%20of%20blindness,disorders%20include%20amblyopia%20and%20strabismus., Accessed June 11 2020

Glaucoma – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20372839#:~:text=Glaucoma%20is%20a%20group%20of,over%20the%20age%20of%2060., Accessed June 11 2020

Glaucoma – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372846, Accessed June 11 2020

Cataracts – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790, Accessed June 11 2020

Cataracts – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353795, Accessed June 11 2020

Get a Dilated Eye Exam | National Eye Institute, https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/vision-screening/, Accessed June 11 2020

Eye exam: Is a laser retina scan worthwhile? – Mayo Clinic, https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/healthy-vision/get-dilated-eye-exam, Accessed June 11 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara on Jun 11, 2020
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