Common eye conditions, causes, symptoms and treatment options

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Posted by: Dr Prathmesh Mehta Category: Medicine, Natural remedies

We as humans are blessed with five senses (namely –  sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing) with our eyes providing us the ability to see the world.

The way our eyes allow us to see is by allowing the light rays that deflect off of objects to land on the cornea and is transmitted to the retina, which then eventually gets transmitted to the brain.

The brain then proceeds to interpret these lights as the particular object that we are seeing.

People usually undertake a lot of steps to ensure that they are taking care of their health, like exercising, eating healthy nutritious food etc., but oftentimes we forget to take that special care of our eyes too.

For maintaining the health of our eyes in the long run, it is imperative that we take steps to take care of our eyes, after all our eyes are our pathway to see the world. It is only through the eyes that we can see and identify objects and send signals to our brain to find out what is in our environment and how we can interact with it.

It’s our eyes that work with us constantly,  helping us make split second decisions like where to step, what direction to look, which turn to take.

So we can undoubtedly say that we go through life completely relying on our eyes to help us function through our day and life.

So needless to say that it is highly essential that we take very good care of eyes so as to keep them healthy and in good condition for all our life.

Below we are going to discuss some of the common eye conditions, what are their symptoms and what are the treatment options for each of them.

~ Refractive errors.

We start with one of the most common eye problems that a majority of the population in the world face at various ages in their life,  refractive errors.

  • But how and why do refractive errors occur?

These vision problems occur when the shape of the eye does not allow the light to focus on the retina properly and this impacts a person’s ability to see clearly.

Refractive errors can be of three types, one that affects the ability of a person to see up close,  second is where a person’s ability to see at a distance is affected and the third results in blurry images at various distances.

  • What each condition is referred to as is explained below –

  1. A) Myopia (nearsightedness)
  2. B) Hyperopia (farsightedness)
  3. C) Astigmatism (blurry images at multiple distances)
  • What are some of the symptoms of refractive errors?

While it’s common for some people to start feeling a certain level of difficulty in seeing which may indicate the existence of a refractive error, often times they can go unnoticed until an eye check up.

But the common symptoms that can be experienced are –

– Blurry vision for close objects (myopia)

– Blurry vision for distant objects (hyperopia)

– difficulty seeing objects at night (myopia,  astigmatism)

– distorted or difficulty seeing for various distances (astigmatism)

– strain in the eyes

– frequent headaches

– squinting

  • What are the possible treatment options for refractive errors?

  1. LASIK – This is a laser eye surgery procedure which is highly effective and very common. State of the art, computer guided lasers are used which basically create a flap in the top layer of cornea and help to reshape it,  hence solving the problem.
  2. Visian ICL – This is a process wherein no reshaping of cornea is undertaken, rather an implantable collamer lens between the iris and the natural lens.
  3. PRK – It is very similar to LASIK but differs to it in a way that the top layer of cornea is gently removed and then given some time to regrow over a period of 2-4 days.

PRK is a minimally invasive procedure, thus being a commonly chosen treatment option.

Some non surgical treatments for refractive errors –

  1. Contacts
  2. Glasses
  3. Reading glasses

~ Cataracts

One of the leading causes of blindness in the world, cataracts occur when there are cloudy areas on the lens of the eye.  These cloudy areas end up creating a hindrance foe the smooth passing of the light to the retina.

There actually is no age for when cataracts can occur but it is most commonly seen in people over the age of 50.

  • What are the possible symptoms of cataract?

Cataracts form very gradually over a period of time,  but some of the symptoms that could be experienced are –

  1. Dim vision, blurriness and cloudiness
  2. Seeing ‘halos’ around certain light
  3. Sensitivity to glare
  4. Problems seeing in the dark
  5. Colours appearing faded
  • What are the possible treatment options for cataracts?

Laser cataract surgery – In the laser cataract surgery, the same computer guided technology is used that is used in the LASIK.

The process involved removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL)

~ Keratoconus

An eye disease that occurs when the cornea begins to thin and bulge or become come shaped is called Keratoconus.

This irregular shape of the cornea results in blurry vision and extreme light sensitivity.

A typical case of Keratoconus develops in Kate teens and can with time worsen if not treated.

If the keratoconus advances beyond a certain degree, it may require a cornea transplant.

  • What are the symptoms of Keratoconus?

The symptoms of Keratoconus can keep changing a varying as the problem progresses, but some common symptoms include

  1. Minor blurring of the vision
  2. Sensitivity to bright light and glare
  3. Increasingly blurred or distorted vision
  4. Frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
  5. Poor night vision and difficulty driving at night
  6. Sudden worsening or clouding of vision
  7. Headaches and eye pain
  • What are the possible treatment options?

  1. Intacs – An innovative alternative to cornea transplant surgery, this procedure includes placing thin inserts around the outer edge of the cornea. This is done in order to reshape and flatten the cornea without having to remove any cornea tissue.
  2. IEK corneal transplant – Intralase enabled keratoplasty (IEK) this is a procedure carried out that uses intralase femtosecond laser which helps in replacing the damaged or diseased cornea with a healthy tissue.Ofcourse this can only be done with a cornea donor.
  3. Corneal collagen cross linking (CXL) – ultraviolet light combined with riboflavin eye drops induces the cross linking of corneal collagen. This process strengthens the cornea.
  • Non surgical treatment options

  1. Soft contact lenses (only for mold to moderate keratoconus)
  2. Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses

~ Age related Macular degeneration (AMD)

For people over the age of 60, age related Macular degeneration (AMD)  is the leading cause of permanent blindness.

The central part of the retina called as Macula is affected in this condition, which causes vision loss in the centre of the field of vision.

  • There are two main types of AMD –

  1. Dry AMD – Small yellow deposits called drusen are built under the macula which causes the macula to get thinner and dry out. More than 80-90 percent of the cases of AMD are the dry type.
  2. Wet AMD – Wet AMD is a more serious problem and starts to affect the vision much faster. Wet AMD results when abnormal blood vessels start to grow under the retina and can sometimes leak or burst and can scar the macula.
  • What are the symptoms of Age related Macular degeneration?

Early stages of AMD come with no symptoms, when AMD advances, following could be some of the symptoms that could be experienced –

  1. Blank spots in your vision
  2. Colors seem faded or changed
  3. Difficulty seeing in dim light
  4. Difficulty seeing things in the center of your vision
  5. Straight lines appearing wavy or blurry
  • What are the possible treatment options for Age related Macular degeneration?

  1. Anti VEGF injections – These injections help in reducing the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and slow leaking vessels.
  2. Photodynamic laser therapy (PDT) – This procedure helps to break down the abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye.
  • Non surgical treatments

  1. Vision aids, e.g., magnifiers and large print materials.
  2. Vitamins & supplements including Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper
  3. Anti-angiogenic drugs that help block new or leaking blood vessel development.

Above we have discussed a few common eye conditions, their symptoms and the possible treatment options.

There are a number of other eye related conditions that a person could face, some with prominent symptoms and some without, it is always advisable to have regular eye check ups done in order to firstly prevent any eye conditions or detect any early signs of eye related issues.

After all, healthy eyes are important!

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