6 things you should know about common eye issues and diseases

Every day you use your eyes for just about everything. In fact, scientists report that, while awake, your eyes are open at least 90 percent of the time. So, it’s not surprising that about 23.7 million Americans adults experience vision problems. Here are six things you should know about common eye issues and diseases.

  1. Vision correction – About 75 percent of Americans need some form of vision correction. The most common problems are myopia (nearsightedness) hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related difficulty focusing from far to close), and astigmatism (blurred vision caused by cornea or lens curve). Most of these problems can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses, contacts or surgery.
  2. Cataracts – As people age, they often develop a cataract in one or both eyes as a result of protein cells sticking together. These protein blobs can cause cloudiness, and if not treated, lead to vision loss. Cataracts usually form over time in people age 40 and older. By age 75, about half have cataracts. Common risk factors include obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Exposure to the sun without protective sunglasses can make cataracts worse. Treatment options include prescription eyeglasses or surgery to remove the cataract.
  3. Pink eye – Usually caused by a virus or bacteria, pink eye can be contagious. One telltale sign of pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is when the white part of one or both eyes turns pink or red. The eyes also may show signs of itching, burning or watering. Depending on the severity, the problem can be treated with cool compresses, artificial tears or antibiotics.
  4. Glaucoma – This leading cause of blindness usually affects Americans age 40 and older. Often glaucoma develops without any warning as the fluid pressure in the eye gradually increases and damages the optic nerve. If caught early, doctors can prescribe medication to slow it down and prevent vision loss.
  5. Red bumps – Sometimes the eyelid’s oil gland becomes blocked, and tiny red bumps called sties develop. With a sty, you may be may be more sensitive to light, and your eye may feel watery or gritty. Applying warm compresses helps unblock the gland. However, if the bumps linger for more than a few days, contact your doctor for assistance.
  6. Macular degeneration – Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the top reason older adults go blind. AMD attacks central vision, reducing the ability to see details when looking straight ahead. It can develop in two forms:
    • Dry AMD – most common, when the retina thins over time
    • Wet AMD – when blood vessels grow under the retina

American Foundation for the Blind
Eye Site on Wellness
American Academy of Ophthalmology