What are the common eye diseases I should watch out for?

What are the common eye diseases I should watch out for?

There are many diseases and problems which our eyes may suffer from during our lifetime. Fortunately the most common problems are minor and are easily cured. However the most serious eye diseases which can lead to blindness are glaucoma and macular degeneration. Although there is no cure, these serious diseases, along with other minor problems, can easily be detected during a routine eye examination by a professional, and treatment can be started. If you experience any changes in your vision or if you develop red, swollen, itchy eyes you should consult an eye doctor immediately. Everyone should also have an eye test regularly (every two years or less) even if you have no known problems. With all eye conditions, early diagnosis is the key.

Allergic Conjunctivitis
Patients often experience itchiness, redness, foreign body sensation or discharge and swelling when suffering from allergic conjunctivitis. It may be caused by hay fever, airborne allergens or certain eye care products. Patients are usually given eye drops or cold compresses to alleviate the symptoms.

Pink Eye
Pink eye is the inflammation of the inner surface of the eyelid, or the outer layer of the eye. It is often caused by an infection or by an allergic reaction and the eye membranes react. It is a common but most uncomfortable experience, and the eye is often very itchy. Other symptoms include redness and watering of the eye, and the eyelid may swell and close. Pink eye may be caused by bacteria, a virus or by an irritant. Bathing the eye and hygienic practices usually improve the condition and prevent the spreading of the infection but antibiotics may sometimes be necessary.

Dry Eye Syndrome
Our eyes are easily irritated and the deficiency of tears to lubricate and clean the eye will result in many unpleasant symptoms. Burning, the sensation of a foreign body, tearing, red eye, discharge or blurred vision may all be the result of a tear-producing abnormality. Doctors will diagnose the origin of the dry eye and recommend treatment. Artificial tears may help, along with warm compresses and taking Omega-3 supplements.

Cataracts are a serious condition which affects over half of all Americans over the age of 80. Cataracts are when the natural lens of the eye clouds over and vision deteriorates. They develop very slowly and are most likely to be detected early on during a routine eye examination. Cataracts cannot be corrected by eyeglasses or contact lenses but the operation to replace the clouded lens is now a simple and safe procedure. During a 10 minute surgery the cloudy lens is removed and a new lens implant is inserted.

Glaucoma is called the 'silent thief of sight'. Symptoms are often undetected by the sufferer and glaucoma may only be diagnosed at an advanced stage when some eyesight has been permanently lost. Glaucoma is a group of conditions which result in damage to the optic nerve, caused by intraocular pressure and it results in a reduction in vision. The pressure comes from the aqueous humor, which is normally produced in the front of the eye. This fluid normally drains away through a small drainage system between the iris and the cornea. When this drainage fails to function properly, the aqueous humor builds up and pressure builds within the eye. A regular eye examination measures the intraocular pressure as a matter of course and early diagnosis can minimize or prevent this optic nerve damage. It is estimated that 65 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma.

Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a disease of the retina and is one of the leading causes of visual impairment in the over 60s in America today. It is diagnosed when the light-sensing cells within the central area of vision, called the macula, are damaged and die. There are several types of macular degeneration and all may cause deterioration in vision, visual distortion and a decrease in the perceived brightness of color. It is vital that macular degeneration is detected and diagnosed at an early stage, as damage to your vision by this disease is permanent. Regular eye examinations will pick up the early signs of this disease and treatment can halt its progress.

Retinal Detachment
Separation of the neurosensory retina from the retinal pigment epithelium is known as a retinal detachment. Patients will experience sudden visual symptoms such as floaters, flashes, shadows or a curtain across the visual field. It is essential that immediate diagnosis and treatment is sought. The doctor will perform laser or other necessary procedures to restore vision as soon as possible.

Diabetic Retinopathy
This is the leading cause of blindness in the US population under 65 years old. When diabetes is not properly controlled, the eyes suffer complications such as bleeding and deposits on the retina. First signs may be decreased or fluctuating vision. Advanced retinopathy can lead to complete blindness so annual check ups and early treatment are vital to diagnose and treat this disease. Controlling the blood sugar level is key to prevention of diabetic retinopathy.

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