Common eye problems run the gamut from vision-related issues like near or farsightedness and color blindness to medical issues like styes, pink eye and floaters. While some of these problems are more of a nuisance than others, most are correctable by glasses, contact lenses or medication. In some cases, minor surgical procedures can also be done to correct problems.
Commonly known as nearsightedness, people suffering from myopia have difficulty seeing objects far away. This is due to the eyeball being longer than normal. People suffering from myopia are either born with it or it gradually becomes apparent as they age. It can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery.
Commonly known as farsightedness, hyperopia has the opposite effect of myopia. People can see far away objects clearly but cannot see small things close up. This generally develops with age and can be corrected with reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals or contact lenses.
Color Blindness is an inherited disorder that is more common in men than it is in women. Most people who are color blind can make out colors but mix up hues. It is especially difficult for color blind people to distinguish between red and green or blue and yellow. Though this is not a serious condition, there is no cure for it.
Floaters (muscae volitantes) are small bits of color or light that essentially float in front of your eyes. They come and go with eye movements such as blinking. Floaters can occur if the vitreous (a gel-like substance in your eye) clumps together, or if small bits of protein or other material gets trapped in it. As people age, the vitreous shrinks and can detach from your retina. Floaters are seen as shadows by your retina, which is a light-sensitive inner layer of your eye.
As far as treatment goes, for severe cases, such as when the retina detaches, surgery is an option. For minor cases, simply blinking or moving your eyes around when floaters appear seems to alleviate them. If, however, you notice flashes of light accompanying the floater, seek medical attention as this could signify a detached retina.
Lazy Eye, or amblyopia, is a vision disorder where an eye does not achieve normal visual acuity even with prescription lenses. Most commonly affecting only one eye, amblyopia begins in infancy and early childhood and can impair vision if not properly treated. Treatment for lazy eye includes glasses, contact lenses or in severe cases, strabismus (eye straightening) surgery followed by eye patching and vision therapy. Though early detection and treatment offers the best prognosis, children older than 8 and even adults can benefit from treatments such as RevitalVision which use computer programs for vision therapy.
Styes are bacterial infections that can occur on your upper or lower eyelids. They resemble small pimple-like bumps and can be on the inside or outside of your eyelid. Styes are not usually serious but they can be painful. It generally takes about three days for them to break open and drain and approximately a week to completely heal. Warm wet compresses can aid the healing process. Never squeeze or attempt to break open a stye, though. Makeup and contact lenses should be avoided until they are healed.
Dry eyes are a very common problem these days, due to pollution, recycled office air, general poor air quality and allergies. Though dry eyes can be a symptom of auto-immune diseases such as lupus, more often than not, it is your environment that exacerbates the problem. For mild to moderate cases, artificial tears can be used, but excessive use of these drops may worsen the problem over time. For serious cases, a prescription eye drop such as Restasis can be used, or you can have an in-office surgical procedure where silicone punctual plugs are inserted in the lacrimal (tear) drainage ducts in your eyelids. These plugs work by keeping tears on your eye from draining away as quickly as usual.
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, as it is commonly known, is a bacterial or viral infection that causes the mucous membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eye and eye surface to redden and swell. It can also cause itching, discharge, tearing and sensitivity to light. Viral conjunctivitis generally heals on its own in about two weeks without treatment. Bacterial pink eye requires antibiotic eye drops or ointment. With an antibiotic, it usually takes about 3-5 days for the infection to clear up. Conjunctivitis is often contagious, so it is important not to share towels, pillows or eye makeup while you have this infection.
Common eye problems range from infections to genetic or age-related vision disorders. Luckily, most of those listed are easily treatable with glasses, contact lenses or prescription eye drops. The most important thing is to have yourself checked out as soon as you feel something is amiss. Otherwise, a simple common problem can turn into a larger one that could have been avoided.