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Middlesex Eye Presents: Top Ten Most Common Eye Problems

Submitted by Middlesex Eye Physicians, PE

Editor’s note: This is part 7 of an 8-part series submitted by Middlesex Eye Physicians.

To See Or Not To See

Caring for your eyes is our top priority; this data was released in 2015; the problems in bold are the top five conditions identified in January 2021. Routine ophthalmology exams and visits are imperative for your eye health!

1. Cataracts: Cloudy, milky white lenses in the eye, most are age-related and more common in people over 65 (but can develop at any age). Cataracts can be the result of injury, UV light exposure, time, some diseases or medications; these cause the eye’s lens to cloud. If left untreated, cataracts can ultimately cause severe vision loss. Treatment: Fortunately, cataracts are a common eye problem that can be treated with surgery.

2. Keratoconus: Normally, the cornea has a dome shape, like a ball. Sometimes, however, the collagen (connective tissue) which holds the cornea in place becomes weak, causing the cornea to become cone shaped. Keratoconus can cause serious loss of vision if not treated early and quickly. Left untreated, many people will need a corneal transplant. TreatmentTypically begins with eyeglasses, can utilize contact lenses (usually hard contact lens), cornea collagen crosslinking, intacs (implants placed under the surface of the cornea), or a cornea transplant.

3. Diabetic Retinopathy: Occurs as a result of extended time with high blood sugar associated with types 1 & 2 diabetes and can cause blindness if left untreated. High blood sugar levels alter blood vessels in the back of the eye, preventing the retina from receiving the nutrition needed for vision. Anyone with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy; however, uncontrolled blood sugar levels increase risk. Treatment: Often laser surgery can prevent significant vision loss by sealing or destroying growing or leaking blood vessels in the retina.

4. Macular Degeneration:  Damage to the macula is the leading cause of blindness and happens in the area of the retina that perceives light. Risk factors include: age, smoking, female gender and family history. Treatments can slow the progression, but there is no cure. Treatment: anti-angiogenic drugs-eye injections, laser therapy-destroys abnormally growing blood vessels, photodynamic laser therapy-a light-sensitive drug damages abnormal blood vessels then medication is injected into the bloodstream to be absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. A cold laser is shone into the eye to activate medication, damaging abnormal blood vessels. Vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper can decrease the risk of vision loss in certain patients with intermediate to advanced dry age-related macular degeneration.

5. Refractive Errors: National Eye Institute: “refractive errors are the most common cause of vision problems.” Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are refractive errors. Treatment:  Eyeglasses, contact lenses & surgery.

6. Glaucoma: A condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve due to high pressure within the eye. Often hereditary, it worsens over time and symptoms may not be perceived until loss of sight is noticed. Exams are important to detect this early. TreatmentGlaucoma can be treated with either surgery, lasers or eye drops.

7. Presbyopia: The loss of clear vision for close objects or small print. Part of the natural aging process of the eye, the eye muscle weakens. Treatment: Wearing corrective lenses, undergoing refractive surgery or getting lens implants.

8. Floaters: Common among people over 50, floaters are tiny spots/specks that float across the field of vision. Floaters seem to drift in the eye, do not block vision, are caused by deposits of protein in the vitreous (jelly-like middle of eye). Usually not serious, but floaters occasionally indicate a more serious eye problem such as retinal detachment, especially if light flashes or shadows in vision are present too. Treatment: call to see your eye doctor right away.

9. Dry eyes: Tear glands cannot make enough tears or produce poor quality tears. Redness, itching, burning and in rare cases, loss of vision will occur over time. Treatment: Eyedrops, warm compresses, lid cleaning, Omega 3, punctal plugs, Lipiflow.

10. Tearing: Production of too many tears, this may be a sign that your eyes are particularly sensitive to light, wind/dryness, or temperature changes. May indicate that you have a more serious problem: eye infection or a blocked tear duct. Treatment: eyedrops, sunglasses, humidifier.

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