Nearsighted individuals typically have problems seeing well at a distance
and are forced to wear glasses or contact lenses. The nearsighted
eye is usually longer than a normal eye, and its cornea may also be steeper.
Therefore, when light passes through the cornea and lens, it is focused
in front of the retina. This will make distant images appear blurred.
There are several refractive surgery solutions available to correct nearly all levels of nearsightedness.
Farsighted individuals typically develop problems reading up close before
the age of 40. The farsighted eye is usually slightly shorter than
a normal eye and may have a flatter cornea. Thus, the light of distant
objects focuses behind the retina unless the natural lens can compensate
fully. Near objects require even greater focusing power to be seen
clearly and therefore, blur more easily.
LASIK, Refractive Lens Exchange and Contact lenses are a few of the options available to correct farsightedness.
Asymmetric steepening of the cornea or natural lens causes light to be
focused unevenly, which is the main optical problem in astigmatism.
To individuals with uncorrected astigmatism, images may look blurry or shadowed.
Astigmatism can accompany any form of refractive error and is very common.
Astigmatism can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, corneal relaxing incisions, laser vision correction, and special implant lenses.
Presbyopia is a condition that typically becomes noticeable for most
people around age 45. In children and young adults, the lens inside
the eye can easily focus on distant and near objects. With age, the
lens loses its ability to focus adequately.
Although presbyopia is not completely understood, it is thought that the lens and its supporting structures lose the ability to make the lens longer during close vision effort. To compensate, affected individuals usually find that holding reading material further away makes the image clearer. Ultimately, aids such as reading glasses are typically needed by the mid-forties.
Besides glasses, presbyopia can be dealt with in a number of ways. Options include: monovision and multifocal contact lenses, monovision laser vision correction, and new presbyopia correcting implant lenses.
The appearance of flashing lights comes from the traction of the vitreous gel on the retina at the time of vitreous separation. Flashes look like twinkles or lightning streaks. You may have experienced the same sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and seen stars.
Small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision as you look at a blank wall or a clear blue sky are known as floaters. Most people have some floaters normally but do not notice them until they become numerous or more prominent.
In most cases, floaters are part of the natural aging process. Floaters look like cobwebs, squiggly lines or floating bugs, and appear to be in front of the eye, but are actually floating inside. As we get older, the vitreous-the clear gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye-tends to shrink slightly and detach from the retina, forming clumps within the eye. What you see are the shadows these clumps cast on the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer lining the back of the eye.
Floaters can get in the way of clear vision, often when reading. Try looking up and then down to move the floaters out of the way. While some floaters may remain, many of them will fade over time.
Flashes and floaters are sometimes associated with retinal tears. When the vitreous shrinks it can pull on the retina and cause a tear. A torn retina is a serious problem. It can lead to a retinal detachment and blindness. If new floaters appear suddenly or you see sudden flashes of light, see an ophthalmologist immediately.
Approximately 22 million people in the US suffer from seasonal itchy, swollen, red eyes. Airborne allergens, such as house dust, animal dander and mold constantly bombard the eyes and can cause ocular allergies at any time. But when spring rolls around and the plant pollen starts flying, it seems like everyone starts crying.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, or hay fever, is the most common allergic eye problem. Various antihistamine and decongestant drops and sprays can soothe irritated eyes and nose.
Make every effort to avoid allergens. An allergist can help determine what you are allergic to so you can stay away from it. Staying away from outdoor pollen may be impossible, but remaining indoors in the morning when the outdoor pollen levels are highest may help control symptoms. If you are allergic to house dust, open windows and keep household filters clean.
Cool compresses decrease swelling and itching. Artificial tears dilute the allergens and form a protective barrier over the surface of the eye. Avoid rubbing the eyes. It makes the symptoms worse.
If seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is a problem, see an ophthalmologist. There are several new safe and effective anti-allergy drops that can be prescribed. An ophthalmologist can also make sure symptoms are not being caused by a more serious problem.
A chalazion is a swelling in the eyelid caused by inflammation of one of the small oil producing glands located in the upper and lower eyelids. A chalazion is sometimes confused with a stye, which also appears as a lump in the eyelid, but is an infection of a lash follicle that forms a red, sore lump. Chalazions tend to occur farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes and tend to "point" toward the inside of the eyelid. Sometimes a chalazion can cause the entire eyelid to swell suddenly, but usually there is a definite tender point. When a chalazion is small and without symptoms, it may disappear on its own. If the chalazion is large, it may cause blurred vision. Chalazions are treated with any or a combination of the following methods:
- Warm compresses can be applied. The simplest way is to hold a clean washcloth, soaked in hot water, against the closed lid. Do this for five to ten minutes, three or four times a day. Repeatedly soak the washcloth in hot water to maintain adequate heat. The majority of chalazions will disappear within a few weeks. Sometimes antibiotic ointments are used in combination with warm compresses.
- Surgical incision or excision may be used to remove large chalazions which do not respond to other treatments.
Chalazions usually respond well to treatment, although some people are prone to recurrences. If a chalazion recurs in the same place, your ophthalmologist may suggest a biopsy to rule out more serious problems.
Pink eye, the common name for conjunctivitis, is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the outer, normally clear covering of the sclera, the white part of the eye. The eye appears pink in conjunctivitis because the blood vessels are dilated. Pink eye is often accompanied by a discharge, but vision is usually normal, and discomfort is mild.
Either a bacterial or a viral infection may cause conjunctivitis. Viruses, which are more common and last several weeks, may cause an upper respiratory infection (or cold) at the same time. Unlike viruses, bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with a variety of antibiotic eye drops or ointments, which usually cure the infection in a day or two.
Conjunctivitis can be very contagious. People who have it should not share towels or pillowcases and should wash their hands frequently. They may need to stay home from school or work and should stay out of swimming pools.
Not everyone with conjunctivitis has an infection. Allergies can cause conjunctivitis too. Typically, people with allergic conjunctivitis have itchy eyes, especially in spring and fall. Eyedrops to control itching are used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. It is important not to use medications that contain steroids (they usually end in "-one" or "-dex") unless prescribed by an ophthalmologist.
Finally, not everyone with pink eye has conjunctivitis. Sometimes more serious diseases, such as infections, damage to the cornea, very severe glaucoma, or inflammation on the inside of the eye cause the conjunctiva to become inflamed and pink. Vision is usually normal if the pink eye is really conjunctivitis. If vision is affected, or if the problem does not get better in a few days, see an ophthalmologist.
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