In a 2012 survey, almost 70% of people around the world said they’d rather lose a limb or give up 10 years of their life rather than lose their eyesight. This question, among others, was asked to over 11,000 people across 11 countries in a survey performed by eye care company Bausch + Lomb. Of course, the thought of losing a limb or eyesight is almost unbearable to those who don’t currently face those daily struggles. Having to choose might not come easy but here’s the thinking.
If someone loses a limb, there are medical treatments – prosthetics — that can help such a fellow becomes mobile again. The fellow might unlikely be able to move quite the same, but could, at a minimum, get some function back. But there’s no prosthetic eye that gives you your vision back.
So if our vision is so important to us, why do we ignore our eye health? In the 2012 survey, only 21% had an eye exam in the previous 5 years. In the survey, less than one third said they do what they should to preserve their eye sight. That includes getting regular eye exams, eating right to protect your vision, keeping a healthy weight, and wearing sunglasses to block damaging UV rays.
Here are two great reasons to get your eyes checked. First, your eye doctor can find vision problems early before they affect your vision and can often stop them in their tracks. In fact, most vision loss is preventable if found early.
Second, heard the saying that your eyes are the window to your soul? Your eyes are definitely the window to your health – and not just your eye health. Your eye doctor can find certain conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, years before you develop.
Symptoms of eye disease
In some cases, the symptoms of certain eye diseases can overlap with others. For example, watery eyes could be a sign of pink eye (conjunctivitis), allergies, or a sty; likewise, light sensitivity could indicate a cataract, migraine, or chalazion (a bump on the eyelid).Resting your eyes might help ease symptoms, but in general, if you’re experiencing severe or lasting pain, you should call a doctor right away.
Below are some of the most common symptoms of eye diseases:
- Flashes of light
- Light sensitivity
- Vision loss
Most common eye issues and problems
The most common eye issues are classified as refractive errors, which include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatisms (blurry vision), and presbyopia (an inability to focus on objects up close). While many of these vision problems can be corrected with the help of eyeglasses, contacts, or surgery, millions of people have more serious eye conditions that can eventually lead to vision loss or blindness. This includes diseases like age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
Here are some eye issues:
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, leading to blurry vision and eventual vision loss. They often develop as people age, when the proteins in the eye begin to clump together and cause cloudiness, making it difficult to see properly. Aside from age, those who smoke, are obese, have high blood pressure, take certain medications, or have diabetes have a greater risk of developing them.
Other symptoms can include double vision, difficulty seeing at night, a“halo” that appears around lights, and seeing colors become faded or yellowed. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can diagnose cataracts with a comprehensive eye exam. Prescription eyeglasses can help some people with cataracts, but others may have to undergo surgery to remove them.
- Macular degeneration:
This is an eye disease that damages the central vision. Macular degeneration usually refers to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are two subgroups of AMD: wet AMD, which occurs when blood vessels grow under the retina; and dry AMD, which affects about 80% of all macular degeneration cases and occurs when the retina thins over time.
Although early treatment such as “eye vitamins” may help slow the progression macular degeneration, there is no cure for the disease.
Glaucoma occurs when fluid pressure increases in the eye, damaging the optic nerve. People with glaucoma can lose their vision and eventually become blind, and the disease is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Early treatment—through eye drops or surgery—may help slow the disease’s progression and prevent vision loss. People can develop glaucoma at any age, but it usually affects older adults.
- Conjunctivitis- Pinkeye:
Thanks to its hallmark symptom, conjunctivitis is most commonly known by its nickname, pink eye. Although it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of conjunctivitis, this eye condition can be triggered by viruses, bacteria, allergens, chemicals, and even a loose eyelash or dirty contact lens.
Besides the classic pink or red color that develops in the eye, conjunctivitis can also cause a swelling of the eyelids, watery eyes, itching, burning, crusting, or discharge. Pink eye caused by a virus or bacteria can also be contagious. In some cases, the eye infection will clear up on its own (using a cool compress and artificial tears can help ease irritation), but if you’re experiencing pain, worsening symptoms, a sensitivity to light, and blurry vision, you should see a doctor.
Sties are red, pimple-like bumps caused by a blockage in one of the eyelid’s oil glands. They usually appear on the edge of a person’s eyelid. The most common symptoms include a sensitivity to light, a sensation of grittiness, and watery eyes. To treat the eye condition at home, try applying a warm washcloth to the bump. While many sties heal on their own, your doctor may recommend an antibiotic for a lingering sty, or try draining it in the office.
When the blood vessels in the eye become swollen due to dryness, allergies, or infections like conjunctivitis, the eyes can appear red and bloodshot. Oftentimes, red eyes don’t signal an emergency, but on some occasions—for example, if it’s accompanied by eye pain or vision changes—you should call your doctor
Others are diabetic eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, optic neuritis which is an inflammation of the optic nerve, Retinal diseases such as a retinal tear or detachment and Refractive errors.
Treatment for eye disease
Eye doctors will usually treat refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness with glasses or contacts. But more serious eye diseases may be treated with a combination of medications or surgery. In many cases, the best way to protect your vision is to have regular screenings, including comprehensive dilated eye exams. By detecting eye conditions in their early stages, it’s possible to prevent vision loss from becoming worse with age.
Here, a few common eye disease treatments:
- Refractive surgery, a procedure that can help correct refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or astigmatism (LASIK is a type of refractive surgery).
• Corneal transplantation to replace either part or all of a damaged cornea.
• Oral steroids, medications that can treat inflammatory eye conditions such as uveitis, a serious, potentially vision-damaging inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye.