Common Eye Conditions

Blepharitis (Inflammation of the eyelids)
Red, itchy eyelids. Treatment is warm water compresses and gentle scrubbing at the base of your eyelashes twice a day. Takes about a month to notice much improvement.

Cataract
Clouding of the lens of the eye. Causes painless, gradual worsening of vision. Most find reading or driving at night are the first problems. When vision prevents usual daily activities, surgery is needed. Surgery is done with local anesthesia, in and out day surgery. Ultrasound (not laser) is used to remove the lens. An implant is used to replace the lens that is removed. With surgery 98% of patients get some improvement, less than 1% worse. Laser is used if the vision clouds a second time.

Cataracts more likely to occur if a smoker, cataracts run in family, diabetes, certain medications, eye injury, or person is older. No current evidence that vitamins help to prevent them. Best to stop smoking and use sunglasses in bright light.

Chalazion (or Stye)
Inflamed (not infected) oil gland that results in a red bump on the lid. Warm compresses several times a day usually helps it go away. It can take weeks or months. Surgery can be done for quicker improvement.

Diabetic Retinopathy
Usually takes years to develop. Two types—retinal swelling which reduces detail vision, and bleeding from new, fragile blood vessels, which can reduce all vision. Best way to prevent is to control blood sugars well. Also do not smoke. Treatment is laser. Regular appointments needed.

Dry Eye
Very common. Eyes feel gritty or irritated. Vision blurs when reading, driving, using computer or watching TV. Most common cause of tearing. Unfortunately, the excess tears come too late to help much. Best treatment is to use artificial tears regularly before symptoms are felt, or before activities which cause blurry vision.

Floaters
Stuff floating in the gel (vitreous) that is in the middle of your eye. Very common. No treatment needed. Sudden appearance of new floaters can be sign of retinal detachment. See optometrist or ophthalmologist if new floaters, flashing lights, loss of side vision, or overall vision blurred.

Glaucoma
Optic nerve damage that causes a loss of side (or peripheral) vision. If not treated, center vision is lost. Most often caused by high eye pressure (normal is 8 to 21). Vision loss is so slow it is difficult for a person to notice. Treatment is medication (drops), laser, or surgery (to produce a drain to relieve the pressure). Acute glaucoma is rare but pressure is very high. Symptoms are halos around lights, significant pain, red eye, decreased vision, and nausea. Get pressure checked!

Macular Degeneration
Problem that affects the center of the retina and decreases detail vision. Most common reason for inability to read and drive over age 65 in this country. Increases with increasing age. Two types—dry and wet. Dry is usually more mild and more slowly progressive. Wet (due to fluid leaking from blood vessels) is faster and usually results in worse vision. About 10-15% of people with dry macular degeneration will develop wet. Watch for distorted vision—can use a grid for this.

If wet macular degeneration is found to be treatable, then laser is used. Laser doesn’t cure it, but usually slows it down. Many new treatments are being tested right now, including injections, medications, and some surgery. Vitamins have been shown to decrease the risk of getting wet macular degeneration in people with a moderate amount of dry macular degeneration. Multivitamins (such as Centrum Silver) may be as good as high dose vitamins. High dose did increase kidney stones and can increase lung cancer in current smokers. Eating green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens can reduce macular degeneration. Not clear if lutein alone will do the same. Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do.

Ocular Migraine
Jagged, flashing lights (or blurred area) in both eyes that last from 10-60 minutes. Can be difficult to see if both eyes are affected unless you look carefully. Can occur alone without any headache.

Retinal Detachment
Retina floats into the center of the eye. Caused by a hole in the retina. Usually get flashing lights and floaters. Detached retina causes loss of vision in one area of vision that gets worse over hours. Treatment is surgery, usually within a couple days.

Retinal Vein or Artery Occlusion (Blockage)
Results in an area of vision loss in one eye. Can also be entire vision. Does not get better. Get examined that day.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
Looks like a spot of blood on the white of the eye. It’s a bruise of the eye surface. No pain or any decreased vision. Will go away by itself in a few days to two weeks.


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