Disorders and Conditions of the Eye
When the eye stops producing the normal amount of moisture it needs to stay comfortable, it can result in dryness, stinging, burning, scratchiness and/or excess tearing during incidents of eye irritation. There may also be stringy mucus in or around the eye.
Dry eye can affect anyone at any age, but it becomes more common as people get older and their tear production lessens. Dry eye can also be caused by certain health conditions and medications. A simple appointment with your ophthalmologist can determine if you suffer from dry eye, and your doctor can provide at-home, over-the-counter and/or prescription treatments to help your eyes remain clear, moist and comfortable.
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Red eye, in which the white part of the eye is red and sometimes irritated, is a sign of ocular inflammation. Red eye has many causes, most of which are benign. The sudden appearance of a red spot is usually a rupture of one of the tiny blood vessels within the eye, and can be caused by sneezing, coughing, rubbing or impact. Red eye that is accompanied by itching is often caused by allergies. When excess fluid and/or crusting of the eye is present, it is often a viral or bacterial infection known as "pink eye."
Cases of red eye that do not clear up within a day or two or are accompanied by pain should be checked by your ophthalmologist immediately.
Refractive errors are disorders caused by an irregular shape of the eye, causing the cornea to bend light incorrectly and resulting in blurred vision. The most common refractive disorders are nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Because they are disorders and not diseases, most people can manage refractive errors with glasses or contact lenses without concern.
However, since blurred vision is sometimes caused by other more serious problems, it is important to visit your ophthalmologist regularly to rule out disease and make sure your prescriptions are adequate to keep your vision crystal clear and sharp.
FLOATERS AND FLASHERS
A "floater" is the formation of a clump or strand of vitreous gel inside the eye, and is more common in people who are nearsighted, have had cataracts or YAG laser eye surgery, or who suffer from inflammation inside the eye. While most floaters are not serious, they can sometimes be a sign of bleeding within the eye. Sometimes they are not floaters at all, but the result of a torn retina. If a new floater suddenly appears or you see sudden flashes of light, it is important to see your ophthalmologist to rule out possible serious causes and prevent permanent vision damage.
"Flashing" is caused when the vitreous gel inside the eye rubs against or tugs on the retina, causing a flashing light or streaking effect. Symptoms can come and go for weeks or months and often subside on their own, but if you have the sudden onset of flashes, see your ophthalmologist immediately to rule out retinal damage.
The retina is the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light. When the retina is detached from its normal position, the result is blurred vision and, left untreated, it almost always leads to blindness. People who are nearsighted, have had cataract surgery, have glaucoma or have had severe injury to the eye are more prone to the disorder, but it can happen to anyone at any age. Tears usually precede detachment, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as symptoms occur.
Early symptoms include flashing lights, "floaters," shadows in your peripheral vision or a gray curtain moving across your field of vision. Retinal tears and detachment are most often repaired through surgery. As with many disorders of the eye, early detection and treatment are key in preventing permanent vision loss.
Commonly known as "lazy eye," amblyopia is a childhood disorder that occurs when the nerve pathway of one eye develops improperly, sending faulty information to the brain. This causes the eyes to work out of sync with one another, creating a loss of depth perception, distortion and blurred vision. Amblyopia is often marked by one eye turning inward or outward, creating an asymmetrical appearance.
Amblyopia is usually easily diagnosed and treated by placing a patch over the normal eye, which forces the "lazy" eye's nerve pathway to correct its messages to the brain. Sometimes eye drops are also used. Most children who are treated before age 5 enjoy full recovery, so schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist early in your child's development, especially if your child's eyes don't appear to be symmetrical.