Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of vision loss in individuals over the age of 50. The name of the condition derives from its cause: damage to the macula, the most sensitive spot on the retina, required for clarity in the center of the visual field. The macula transmits electrical signals through the optic nerve to the brain. Damage to the macula results in retinal tissue degeneration that gradually worsens, diminishing or destroying central vision.
Blepharospasm is a condition in which the eyelids spasm, closing involuntarily, forcing the patient to blink abnormally. Blepharospasm is a form of focal dystonia or abnormal contractions of the eye muscles. Patients with blepharospasm have normal vision, but the disturbance interferes with visual perception and may, in severe cases, result in functional blindness.
Each year, cataracts affect millions of people, including more than half of all Americans aged 60 and older. A cataract is a painless clouding of the eye's natural lens that is caused by a buildup of protein. A cataract can form in one or both eyes. If left untreated, cataracts worsen over time and interfere with everyday activities such as reading or driving. Night vision is usually most affected. When cataracts are in their early stages, people are helped by brighter lighting. As cataracts get worse, however, most people require surgery.
The cornea is the clear covering of the front of the eye which bends, or refracts, light rays as they enter the eye. Injuries, such as scratches or cuts, on the surface of the cornea are known as corneal abrasions. Due to the amount of nerve cells in the cornea, a corneal abrasion is usually painful. A corneal abrasion causes significant pain and discomfort; it is a serious condition that should be medically addressed as soon as possible.
Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing eye conditions as a complication of their disease. These conditions can lead to vision loss and blindness and include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy is actually the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. The length of time a person has diabetes determines his or her likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy. It is the most common diabetic eye complication, and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic retinopathy causes the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the retina, the light-sensitive lining in the back of the eye where vision is focused, to weaken, swell and leak, causing a loss of vision.
Dry eye is a common condition in which the eyes are insufficiently lubricated, leading to itching, redness and pain. The eyes can become dry and irritated because the tear ducts are not producing a sufficient number of tears, or because there is a chemical imbalance in the tears themselves. Natural tears require a particular chemical balance to lubricate the eyes efficiently.
An eyelid papilloma is a rounded growth that protrudes from the upper or lower eyelid. These are very common lesions that most frequently develop in middle-aged and older patients. Papillomas are most often benign, but in rare cases may be precancerous or malignant. Many patients opt to have these lesions removed even if they pose no medical risk for cosmetic purposes or because they are a source of discomfort.
Tears are necessary to lubricate the eyes and wash away foreign bodies and other particles. Excessive tearing, also known as epiphora, occurs when too many tears are produced or when the eyes are unable to drain properly.
Flashes and floaters of the eye are usually the result of age-related changes to the vitreous, which is the thick gel firmly attached to the retina from birth. During the aging process, however, the vitreous becomes thinner and more watery, and at some point pulls away from the retina. This is known as a posterior vitreous separation or detachment (PVD). During PVD, tissue debris that was once secure in the firm vitreous gel loosens and moves around, casting shadows on the retina.
Glaucoma is a group of related diseases that damage the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and possible blindness. Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the United States, can affect patients of all ages. Many people affected with glaucoma do not experience any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the disease until they have lost a significant amount of vision. With early detection and treatment, however, eyes can be protected against the serious loss of vision or blindness. Catching glaucoma at an early, treatable stage is one important reason to have thorough eye examinations regularly.
Keratitis is an inflammation or infection of the cornea. Keratitis often develops as the result of an infection, but can also be caused by a small scratch or prolonged contact lens wear. If left untreated, keratitis can lead to serious complications and can permanently damage vision.
Keratoconus is the gradual thinning and outward bulging of the cornea into a cone shape. This progressive eye condition usually affects both eyes by thinning the corneas from that of a normal rounded dome-shape into one that has a cone-shaped bulge. The cornea is the clear, central part of the surface of the eye. In those patients with keratoconus, the cone-shaped cornea deflects light and causes distorted vision.
Tumors are abnormal growths of tissue that can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Tumors situated on the orbit, or eye socket, should be evaluated and treated as soon as possible. A cancerous tumor requires immediate medical attention.
Presbyopia is a visual problem of middle age, a normal part of the aging process, during which the eyes gradually lose the ability to focus at a close range. It occurs when the lens of the eye loses its flexibility, causing objects that are near to appear blurry. Symptoms take years to develop and most patients begin to show signs of presbyopia in their early-to-mid 40s. Typically, the condition worsens until about age 65. Presbyopia is diagnosed with a routine eye examination and can be treated with corrective lenses or surgery.
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina of the eye is pulled away from the underlying tissue to which it is attached. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency which can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated. In most cases, the detachment is a slowly progressing issue which must be treated once symptoms are realized. In some cases, a detachment occurs due to a trauma which causes a tear in the retina, allowing fluid to enter the vitreous and pull on the retinal tissue.
The retina is a light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eye. It is attached to the vitreous, the gel-like substance that composes most of the eye's volume. As a result of the aging process, the consistency of the vitreous thins and its shape changes, sometimes causing it to pull away from the retina. This separation, known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), is a normal part of aging, but it can result in a retinal tear. Since, without treatment, a retinal tear can cause retinal detachment that may result in blindness, it is important for adults over the age of 50 to be vigilant about getting regular eye examinations.
A tear duct obstruction, also known as dacryostenosis or nasolacrimal duct obstruction, is a common condition that affects more than five percent of all infants and is present at birth. Tears usually drain through small openings in the corners of the eyelids, known as puncta, and enter the nose through the nasolacrimal duct. When an obstruction exists, tears cannot properly drain from the eyes and may well up on the surface of the eye and overflow on the eyelashes and eyelids. The eyelids may also become red and swollen with yellow or green discharge.