Conjunctivitis: Managing Pink Eye
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. This is the thin transparent later covering the surface of the inner eyelid and portion of the front of the eye. There are three main types which include infectious, commonly known as "pink eye", allergic, and chemical. The infectious form is caused by a contagious virus or bacteria.
Symptoms: Common signs are red, watery eyes, blurred vision, scratchy feeling in the eyes. The infectious form of "pink eye" may have puss like or watery discharge around the eyelids.
Treatment: Certain forms of conjunctivitis can develop into a more serious condition that may harm your eyes and affect your vision. Therefore, it is very important for your eye health to have your condition diagnosed by an optometrist and properly treated.
Cataratcs: Clouding Your Vision
When the normal clear lens within your eye becomes cloudy and opaque, it is called a cataract. Cataracts are a function of aging, and are most often found in people over the age of 60. Cataracts are the result of aging changes that occur within your eyes that cause the lenses to become cloudy. This may be due to advancing age, family history, or may be the result of an injury or a disease. Other risk factors for the development of cataracts include excessive exposure to UV sunlight, cigarette smoke, or some medications.
Symptoms: Indications that a cataract may be forming include blurred or hazy vision that cannot be corrected by changing the glasses prescription. A progressive change in the distance and/or near vision may also occur, as well as sensitivity to glare, especially at night. Cataracts develop without pain or redness.
Treatment: In the early stages of a cataract, where vision is only minimally affected, your optometrists may prescribe lenses to try and still maintain your sharpest vision possible. However, if the cataracts start to interfere with your daily activities, and wearing glasses do not help, your optometrist will refer you to an eye surgeon who may recommend the surgical removal of the cataracts.
Glaucoma: The Silent Thief
Glaucoma refers to the damage of the optic nerve and is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada. It is a progressive disease that most frequently occurs in patients over the age of 40. There is also a greater risk of developing glaucoma for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, a history of eye injuries or a family history of glaucoma.
Symptoms: Elevated pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve which can lead to vision loss if not detected and treated early. There are usually no symptoms until the patient experiences peripheral vision loss which is why glaucoma is referred to as the "silent thief." If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to a complete loss of vision.
Treatment: There is no way to prevent glaucoma, but having a regular comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist is the only way to detect the disease. If detected early enough, eye drops and laser surgery are usually effective at maintaining your vision and little or no further vision loss should occur. If left untreated, peripheral vision is affected first, followed by central vision loss, and then complete blindness may occur.
Dry Eye: A Common Problem
Dry eye occurs when your eyes don't produce enough tears that don't have the proper checmical composition to coat the front surface of your eyes. Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, exposire to environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking, or from certain medications.
Symptoms: The most common type of symptoms of dry eye include stinging, gritty, scratchy and uncomfortable eyes, burning feeling, or feeling of a foreign body within the eyes. In moderate to severe cases, you may experience blurred vision, light sensitivity, or even periods of excessive tearing.
If your dry eye is left untreated, it can be harmful. Excessive dry eye can damage and possibly scar the sensitive corneal tissue of the eye, impairing vision. Dry eye can make contact lens wear more difficult.
Treatment: Dry eye is usually chronic, and although there is no cure, your optometrist can offer treatment to manage the condition and improve your comfort. Treating any underlying systemic disease, or changing your diet to include items such as fish or flax seed oil, can also be helpful at times.