What Are The Most Common Eye Problems?

The prevalence of vision problems

Vision problems affect billions of people all over the world. In the United States alone, 20 million people have some kind of vision impairment. Of these, 6 million have vision loss, and 1 million are clinically blind. At Beyond Vision Center, we want our patients to be on the look-out for common eye conditions so that they can visit our clinic as soon as a condition emerges. Read on to learn more about the most common eye problems, the cause of certain eye conditions, options for treatment, and more.

Common eye problems

An eye drop over someone’s eye

There are many kinds of vision problems. The root cause of vision issues and their associated symptoms and treatments are also variable. Some disorders may be a result of genetics while others may be due to lifestyle factors or another disease or health concern.

Refractive errors

Refractive errors are the most common eye issue. People with this prevalent eye condition cannot see clearly because the shape of their eye impedes light from focusing correctly on their retina. The retina is the tissue at the back of your eye that is sensitive to light and necessary for clear vision.

There are different types of refractive errors, and each affects vision differently. Myopia (nearsightedness) means your eye can focus better on nearby objects. Hyperopia (farsightedness) means you can see distant objects more clearly. Astigmatism distorts vision at all distances due to irregular curves on the cornea or lens of the eye. 

Symptoms of refractive errors include double vision, hazy vision, eye strain, headaches, and squinting. Regular eye exams are important so your doctor can begin treatment of this common eye issue, which can develop into a more serious eye disorder if left unaddressed.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is often confused with hyperopia because they present similar symptoms, including difficulty seeing nearby objects clearly. However, presbyopia is a different vision problem and is related to age. While hyperopia occurs because the lens of your eye is too short, presbyopia occurs when the lens loses its flexibility. This eye issue is a normal part of life and is caused by age.

Macular degeneration

The macula is the center part of the retina and allows the eye to see fine details. There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. In wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels grow behind the retina leading to blood and fluid leakage. Dry macular degeneration is a result of age, and occurs when the macula thins over time causing central vision to blur. Both types of degeneration result in damaged sharp and central vision which can impair tasks like driving and reading. 

Cataracts: the world’s leading cause of blindness

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the US, and the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Cataracts can occur at any age and can even be present at birth. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. The most common sign of cataracts is blurry vision, but people with cataracts also report seeing a halo around light and poor night vision. Cataract surgery, performed by cataract specialists, has a 99% success rate and helps 10 million people avoid loss of eye function every year.

Dry eyes

Dry eyes aren’t only an uncomfortable physical sensation—dry eye is a diagnosable vision disorder. Dry eye occurs when your eye produces low quantity or quality tears. The cause of dry eye can be related to age, hormonal changes, medications, environmental factors, and other health issues.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve in the eye, leading to loss of vision and other serious health concerns including blindness. Previous research suggested glaucoma stemmed from slowly increasing pressure inside the eyes, but new studies indicate that glaucoma can happen with normal eye pressure. Glaucoma can be “open” or “closed angle” and is often accompanied by red eyes. The former progresses slowly resulting in gradual vision loss, while the latter can come on rapidly and painfully, usually requiring immediate treatment.

Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment is a serious eye emergency that occurs when the retina separates from the eye tissue that keeps it in place. Flashes of light, dark spots, and a covering of part of your vision are all signs to see your eye doctor for immediate care.

Diabetic Retinopathy

This condition is a common complication of diabetes characterized by damaged blood vessels in the retina due to low blood supply. It can lead to serious deterioration of vision. People with diabetes can reduce their risk by controlling their blood sugar and blood pressure.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus occurs when the front part of the eye thins and becomes cone shaped. Blurred vision and sensitivity to light follow. The issue can be corrected with glasses, specialty contact lenses, or a corneal transplant.

Common eye issues in children

Your eyes need expert attention at every age—eye disease and disorder can affect children as well as adults. Early, preventative care of childrens’ eyes is critical to avoiding vision loss and other impairments of eye function. 

Amblyopia

Also known as lazy eye, amblyopia occurs when one eye sees better than the other, causing the brain to favor the stronger eye and reduce vision in the weaker eye.

Strabismus

Strabismus happens when the eyes struggle to coordinate, causing them to cross or turn out. Left untreated, strabismus can lead to reduced 3D vision or lazy eye.

Conjunctivitis—beware of red eyes!

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is highly contagious. Commonly caused by a viral infection it leads to inflammation and redness of the lid and outer coating of eyes. 

Are eye diseases hereditary?

Yes, genetics is one of the risk factors for certain eye issues and disease. Research suggests that eye conditions like strabismus, retinal degeneration, and glaucoma are inherited. Eye issues caused by refractive errors may also have a genetic component.

Best practices for healthy eyes

mother and daughter protecting their eyes with sunglasses while at the beach

Here are a few suggestions to keep your eyes in optimal health and reduce the likelihood of vision impairment or surgery in the future:

  • Wear eye protection: sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV light
  • Prioritize overall health: exercise regularly and eat nutritious foods
  • Know your family’s health history
  • Prioritize eye health: see your eye doctor regularly and never delay necessary treatments or surgery

The criticality of preventative care

Problems with vision are largely preventable. Some experts estimate that up to 90% of vision loss is preventable or treatable. Early care and treatments that address the cause of a problem or disease are critical.

When to see your eye doctor

Any persistent discomfort or issue with your vision, or a sudden change in vision, is cause for concern. Even if you don’t have specific concerns, always attend your annual (or more regular) eye exam. 

If you’re a parent, it can be difficult to identify an eye problem in your child since they may have trouble explaining what’s wrong. If you notice your child frequently squinting, rubbing their eyes, sitting too close to the TV, or tilting their head, it may be a sign to call your eye doctor and check the health of their eyes. Other symptoms that your child’s vision is suffering may not be eye-related, like headaches or difficulty concentrating.

What to expect at the eye doctor

older man getting his eyes checked

Your eye doctor will conduct a thorough exam of your eyes and discuss any concerns you might have about your vision and visual health. The doctor will then recommend treatment and begin care.

Common treatments

Treatment for issues like refractive errors includes correction through glasses or contacts, though some people opt for surgery. Laser surgery like LASIK for correction of refractive errors is quite popular, as is cataract surgery. Drops, ointments, vision therapy, and specialty contacts can also help with certain issues. Your eye doctor will recommend treatment based on your unique eye needs.

The relationship between eye health, clear vision, and wellbeing

Our eyes allow us to see and do what we love. When our vision is impaired due to eye disease or other eye problems, the effects can be far-reaching. In addition to reduced eyesight, eye problems can affect your ability to stay engaged in your life. In fact, impairments in vision are one of the leading causes of loss of independence in American adults over the age of 65. For others, eye conditions can impede success in work or school. There’s even evidence that loss of vision can contribute to depression, poor health, and loss of earnings.

Visit BVC and see beyond the expected

Achieve clear vision and enjoy better health by making an appointment at one of our two Beyond Vision Center locations today. We offer comprehensive eye exams for all ages, as well as specialized treatment for cataracts, ocular diseases like glaucoma, dry eye, and diabetic eye concerns. We also offer vision therapy, emergency eye care, and specialty contact lenses and fittings. 

We can’t wait to see you!