Millions of patients are diagnosed with diseases and conditions of the eye every year. Some conditions do not cause symptoms until there is already irreversible damage to the patient’s vision. The outcome of eye disease can range from temporary discomfort to total loss of vision. This is why all eye problems and diseases should be taken seriously, and regular eye check-ups are essential.
The main causes of eye problems can be divided into five groups:
Inflammation of the eye and surrounding structures caused by a bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infection.
Injuries to the eye and surrounding structures, either as a result of trauma or from an object in the eye.
Genetically inherited eye diseases, some of which are present at birth, but many of which may only manifest later in life and can affect the structures and the functioning of the eye.
Diseases or conditions, such as migraine or diabetes, which can affect other organs of the body, such as the eyes.
External causes, such as allergies or eye strain due to over-use, or as a side effect of medication.
The three symptoms indicative of eye disease are changes in vision, changes in the appearance of the eye, or an abnormal sensation or pain in the eye.
Any sudden vision changes should be a cause of concern. Changes in vision can include the following symptoms:
Nearsightedness (caused by an elongation of the eyeball over time, making it difficult to see objects that are far away clearly).
Farsightedness (caused by the shortening of the eyeball, making it difficult to clearly see objects that are close by).
Blurry or hazy vision, or loss of specific areas of vision, which can affect one or both eyes. This is the most common vision symptom.
Double vision (a single clear image appears to repeat itself). Double vision can be accompanied by other symptoms such as headache, nausea, a droopy eyelid, and misalignment of the eyes.
Floaters (specks or strands that seem to float across the field of vision). These are shadows cast by cells inside the clear fluid that fills the eye. These are usually harmless, but should be checked out as they could point to something serious such as retinal detachment.
but should be checked out as they could point to something serious such as retinal detachment.
Loss of vision after being able to see before.
Changes in the appearance of the eye include, but are not restricted to, the following:
Redness or swelling of the eyes, which have a bloodshot appearance.
Watery and itchy eyes; depending on the cause, discharge from the eyes is also possible.
Redness and swelling of the eyelid.
Cloudy appearance of the eye, which occurs due to a build-up of protein over the lens. These can be symptomatic of cataracts.
Eyelid twitch, which happens when eyelid muscles spasm involuntarily.
Bulging eyes, which can be a symptom of hyperthyroidism or an autoimmune disorder called Grave’s disease.
Drooping eyelids, which can be a sign of exhaustion, aging, migraines, or a more serious medical problem.
Pain within the eye is called ocular pain, while pain on the surface of the eye is called orbital pain.
Ocular pain can be caused by a scratch or a slight injury to the cornea or the presence of a foreign object in the eye and often causes redness of the eye. Orbital pain can be sharp or throbbing and may go beyond the surface. Pain accompanied by vision loss, vomiting, fever, muscle aches, eye-bulging, or difficulty in moving the eye in certain directions is cause for concern. Trauma to the eye or the surrounding facial areas can also be the cause of pain.
The treatment of eye diseases is divided into four main categories:
Prescription glasses or contact lenses
Treatment of systemic conditions affecting the eye