Eye disorders and eye infections can have symptoms ranging from itchy, runny eyes to impaired vision. It is important to address eye problems right away, as some disorders can progressively worsen or even trigger other serious problems. Getting prompt and proper treatment will not only save you the irritation and agony of living with your symptoms, but it may also save your vision and the health of your eyes.
Dry eye is a condition in which the eyes are not adequately moisturized by natural tears. This can lead to a feeling of dryness, itching, stinging, or grittiness in the eyes. Several environmental factors can cause dry eyes, such as low humidity, wind, smoke, and dust. Chronic dry eye, however, is an eye disorder that is usually due to the body’s inability to produce enough tears or a tendency to drain tears away too quickly. Contact lenses, LASIK surgery, and the aging process can all trigger or worsen dry eyes. Artificial tears can help moisturize the eyes and relieve symptoms, but patients should be careful not to use eye drops that reduce redness, as the ingredients in these products can actually make dry eyes worse.
People with eye allergies are sensitive to airborne allergens such as dust, pet dander, pollen, and mold spores. When these substances are present, the eyes may itch, sting, burn, turn red, and produce excess tears and mucus. The symptoms may be similar to those of certain eye infections. While not dangerous, these symptoms are unpleasant and can interfere with daily activities. Avoiding exposure to allergens can help, but is not always possible. Though medications can help alleviate symptoms, there is no cure for allergies.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It can affect the inside or outside of the eyelids, as well as the duct openings and eyelash follicles. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, or flaking of the eyelids, as well as itching, burning, or excessive watering in the eyes, and loss of eyelashes. A number of things can cause blepharitis, including bacteria, dandruff, and rosacea. The best way to treat all eye infections is by keeping the eyelids very clean. Wash the area with warm water and baby soap and avoid using makeup until symptoms disappear. To avoid recurrence, throw away any makeup that was used prior to the appearance of symptoms, as it may harbor bacteria that could reintroduce the infection. If symptoms persist, visit your doctor. Antibiotic ointment or eye drops can be prescribed to manage a bacterial infection, while treating dandruff or rosacea can alleviate blepharitis caused by those conditions.
Amblyopia, also called lazy eye, is an eye disorder in which the brain does not acknowledge visual information from one eye. The result is reduced visual acuity that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive procedures. Although lazy eye is often confused with strabismus and these eye disorders can sometimes be related, they are not the same condition. Amblyopia, on its own, shows no noticeable symptoms. It can only be detected by an eye doctor. This is why it is so important for young children to undergo regular eye exams to screen for conditions like lazy eye, as it is best treated if detected before the age of two.
Strabismus is the medical term for the condition that causes crossed eyes or a turned eye. A person with strabismus has eyes that do not focus on the same point. One eye may turn in, out, up, or down all of the time or intermittently. In children with strabismus, the brain will begin to ignore images from the turned eye, which can cause amblyopia, or lazy eye. If strabismus is detected and treated early, it can usually be corrected and vision loss avoided. If treatment is delayed until the child is older, the eye disorder may worsen and permanent vision loss can develop.
Low vision is defined as an inability to see clearly that cannot be corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses, or through surgery or medication. Although it is most common among patients who are 65 or older, low vision can occur at any age and can be caused by any of several eye disorders, diseases, or injuries. Common causes of low vision include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Low vision cannot be treated or cured, but there are a variety of tools and systems that can help a person with low vision maximize the vision they still have and retain their independence.
When the retina begins to detach from the back wall of the eye, a patient is at risk for serious vision loss. Retinal detachment can be triggered by certain types of eye disorders, severe myopia, diabetes, or eye trauma, as well as other eye problems. Symptoms of retinal detachment include sudden, rapid flashes of light, spots or floaters in the visual field, a sense of a curtain being lowered over the eyes, or vision that becomes wavy, as if the patient is looking through water. If you have any of these symptoms, it is extremely important to contact an ophthalmologist immediately. Retinal detachment requires immediate surgery to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.
Talk to an Ophthalmologist
To learn more about eye infections and disorders, browse the DocShop website. If you think you may have an eye infection or eye disorder and need to be examined, contact a qualified ophthalmologist in your area.