Eye problems can range from blurry vision, spots,night glares, and flashing lights. These are common eye complaints. Each could be a harmless annoyance or an early sign of disease. It isn’t always easy to tell the difference. Here are signs that may indicate trouble.
Eye Problems: Nearsightedness (Myopia)
When you’re nearsighted, things in the distance look blurry. Doctors call it myopia. You’re more likely to have it if:
- One or both of your parents have it
- You do lots of close-up reading
Nearsightedness can make it harder to drive, play sports, or see a blackboard or TV. Symptoms include blurred vision, squinting, and fatigue. To correct it, you can wear glasses, contacts, or get surgery in some cases.
Eye Problems: Farsightedness (Hyperopia)
Most people are born with mild farsightedness and outgrow it in childhood. When it persists, you may see distant objects well, but books, knitting, and other close objects are a blur. This problem runs in families. Symptoms include trouble with reading, blurry vision at night, eyestrain, and headaches. To treat it, you may wear glasses or contacts. Some people get surgery for it.
Eye Problems: Presbyopia
Tough word to pronounce, but even more trouble if you’re a senior citizen and have problems reading the fine print. It’s called presbyopia, which means “old eye” in Greek. Most people start to notice it in their 40s The eyes’ lenses become less flexible and can’t change shape to focus on objects at reading distance. The solution: Wear reading glasses or bifocals, which correct both near and distance vision. If you wear contacts, ask your eye doctor about contacts made for people with presbyopia.
Eye Problems: Astigmatism
If you have astigmatism in one or both eyes, your vision may be out of focus at any distance. It happens when the cornea, the clear “window” that covers the front of the eye, isn’t shaped right. Light rays can’t focus on a single point on your retina. Instead they scatter to many places. Symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, fatigue, and eye strain.
Glasses or contact lenses correct it. Surgery may be an option.
Eye Problems: Glaucoma
You can’t feel it, but this disease damages your optic nerve. You may not have any symptoms until you lose your central vision. Your side vision will go first. That’s why you need regular eye exams every 1 to 2 years, especially after you turn 40. Doctors can treat glaucoma with medications or surgery.
Eye Problems: Macular Degeneration:
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) damages and then destroys your central vision, making it hard to read or drive. Symptoms can include a central blurry spot or straight lines that appear wavy. You’re more likely to have it if you are older than 60, smoke, have high blood pressure, are obese, are female, or have a family history of the condition. See your eye doctor regularly to check for AMD. Prompt treatment can help slow vision loss.
Eye Problems: Cataracts
By age 80, more than half of us will have had a cataract, or cloudy lens. Your vision slowly gets foggy and it gets hard to read, drive, and see at night. Diabetes, smoking, or too much time in the sun raise your chances. Surgery that replaces the clouded lens with an man-made one works well.
Eye Problems: Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)
You can inherit this disorder from your parents. It often begins with night vision problems. Next comes a slow loss of side vision. That becomes tunnel vision and finally, in some cases, blindness. High-dose vitamin A supplements can reduce vision loss and an implant that can restore some vision is in the works. But see your doctor before you take supplements. Too much vitamin A can be toxic.
Eye Problems: Floaters and Specks
Do you see blurry spots or specks that move?They’re probably floaters — debris in your eye’s vitreous gel. They don’t block vision and are easier to see in bright light. Floaters are common and usually harmless. See a doctor right away if:
- They show up or multiply suddenly.
- You see flashes of light.
- There are white or black spots all the time.
- You notice a sudden shadow or loss of side vision.
Eye Problems: Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
When you’re a child, if one eye doesn’t see well, your brain may favor the other. This condition, called ambylopia, can happen if your eyes aren’t aligned right (strabismus or crossed eyes) or one eye just doesn’t work as well. The doctor will prescribe a patch or drops that blur vision in the “good” eye. This prompts your brain to use the other eye. If amblyopia isn’t treated during childhood, it can cause permanent vision loss.
Eye Problems: Get Regular Checkups
You need regular checkups all through your life, especially if eye problems run in your family or if you have other risk factors. An eye exam can also find other problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure, or even a stroke or brain tumor. Bulging eyes can signal thyroid disease. A yellow tint in the whites of your eyes might be sign of liver problems.
Eye Problems: Foods For Eye Health
Carrots really are good for your eyes. So are spinach, nuts, oranges, beef, fish, whole grains, many other things that make up a healthy diet. Look for foods with antioxidants like omega-3 fatty acids; vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene; as well as zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin.