Eye diseases can compromise your vision, leading to permanent vision loss or even blindness. By going for regular comprehensive eye exams, your optometrist can detect, diagnose, and track subtle changes in your vision and eye health that may be indicators of disease.
If you do develop an eye disease, it’s critical that you begin treatment as soon as possible. Many forms of eye disease don’t typically exhibit symptoms in their early stages, so you may not even know something is wrong until you experience irreversible sight loss. Early treatment relies on early detection, which can slow down or even completely prevent vision loss.
Your eye health and vision are precious; don’t put them at risk. Book your next appointment today.
Common Eye Diseases
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in adults over 55 in North America. This serious condition causes your macula (the central area of your retina) to deteriorate, causing your central vision to be slowly lost.
AMD has two primary forms: dry and wet
- Dry AMD is the more common form of AMD and is typically less severe than wet AMD. Dry AMD is caused by lipid deposits (called drusen) accumulating under the macula, slowly damaging these light-sensitive cells. There is currently no cure for dry AMD, but a large scale nutritional study (AREDS2) found that dry AMD’s progression can be slowed by consuming Vitamin C, Vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc.
- Wet AMD isn’t as common as dry AMD, but is generally more serious. Wet AMD is more debilitating than dry AMD and usually progresses more quickly. Wet AMD results in new blood vessel growth underneath your macula. Unfortunately, these blood vessels are weak and prone to leaking, which can cause permanent damage to your macula. Though there isn’t a cure for wet AMD, it’s progression can be slowed using intraocular injections.
Cataracts occur naturally as part of the ageing process and form when the proteins in our natural lenses become opaque and cloudy. This cloudiness slowly obscures our vision. Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Hazy or blurry vision
- Dimming of colour vision
- Increased sensitivity to glare
Though your chances of developing cataracts at some point in your life are high, factors such as diabetes, UV exposure, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking can increase your chances of developing cataracts at a younger age.
When they first begin to develop, cataracts typically only cause minimal disruptions. As such, your optometrist may be able to suggest workarounds such as using increased light or a magnifying aid to read fine print. However, as your cataracts progress, they will obscure your vision more. If they begin to impact your quality of life, you may require cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery involves removing your cloudy natural lens and replacing it with a permanently clear artificial lens.
When the thin, transparent membrane that covers the white of your eye (the conjunctiva) becomes inflamed its called conjunctivitis or “pink eye”. This inflammation causes the delicate blood vessels in your eyes to dilate, causing them to become red and bloodshot, and giving pink eye its name.
There are three primary forms of conjunctivitis:
- Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by a reaction to allergens such as pet dander, pollen, and dust. This form of conjunctivitis isn’t contagious, and can usually be controlled using antihistamines.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection. It is highly contagious and needs to be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your optometrist. To prevent it from spreading, you should avoid close contact with others until your symptoms have cleared up.
- Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a viral infection. Like the common cold, viral conjunctivitis doesn’t require antibiotic treatment and should clear up on its own. However, it’s still highly contagious, so you should stay home from work or school until your symptoms subside.
If you suspect that you or your child may have conjunctivitis, you should make an appointment with your optometrist right away. Avoid wearing contact lenses until your symptoms have completely subsided.
A few familiar floaters are no cause for concern. Floaters are typically caused by tiny pieces of protein floating around in the clear, gel-like fluid that fills the inside of our eyes (the vitreous). As we age, the vitreous becomes less viscous, allowing the floaters to move around more easily, making them more noticeable.
However, sudden flashes of light, followed by a shower of floaters, could be a sign that you are experiencing a retinal tear or retinal detachment. A retinal detachment is a serious condition that needs to be treated quickly to avoid permanent vision loss.
Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged, typically as a result of high pressure inside your eye. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting information from your eyes to your brain.
Glaucoma rarely exhibits symptoms in its early stages, which means you may not notice something is wrong until you have already experienced irreversible peripheral vision loss, making glaucoma a particularly dangerous condition. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada.
Luckily, glaucoma is treatable, but early detection is critical. To help you safeguard your vision from glaucoma, all comprehensive eye exams performed at Erie Shores Eyecare include glaucoma testing.