Eye floaters are spots in your vision. Eye floaters may look like black or gray specks, strings or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes.
Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside your eyes becomes more liquid. When this happens, microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump together and can cast tiny shadows on your retina, which you may see as eye floaters.
If you notice a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters, contact an eye specialist immediately — especially if you also see flashes of light or lose your peripheral vision. These can be symptoms of an emergency that requires prompt attention.
Lazy eye (amblyopia) is decreased vision that results from abnormal visual development in infancy and early childhood. Although lazy eye usually affects only one eye, it can affect both eyes. Lazy eye is the leading cause of decreased vision among children.
With lazy eye, there may not be an obvious abnormality of the eye. Lazy eye develops when nerve pathways between the brain and the eye aren’t properly stimulated. As a result, the brain favors one eye, usually due to poor vision in the other eye. The weaker eye tends to wander. Eventually, the brain may ignore the signals received from the weaker — or lazy — eye.
Usually doctors can correct lazy eye with eye patches, eyedrops, and glasses or contact lenses. Sometimes lazy eye requires surgical treatment.
Refractive errors are the most frequent eye problems in the United States. Refractive errors include myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances), and presbyopia that occurs between age 40–50 years (loss of the ability to focus up close, inability to read letters of the phone book, need to hold newspaper farther away to see clearly) can be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses, or in some cases surgery. Recent studies conducted by the National Eye Institute showed that proper refractive correction could improve vision among 11 million Americans aged 12 years and older.
Dry eyes occur when your tears aren’t able to provide adequate moisture for your eyes. Tears can be inadequate for many reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if you don’t produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears.
Dry eyes feel uncomfortable. If you have dry eyes, your eyes may sting or burn. You may experience dry eyes in certain situations, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a bike, or after looking at a computer screen for a few hours.
Treatments for dry eyes may make your eyes more comfortable. These treatments can include lifestyle changes and lubricating eyedrops. For more-serious cases of dry eyes, Restasis may be a good option.
The FDA approved the prescription eye drop Restasis for the treatment of chronic dry eye. It is currently the only prescription eye drop that helps your eyes increase their own tear production with continued use.
Blepharitis (blef-uh-RI-tis) is inflammation that affects the eyelids. Blepharitis usually involves the part of the eyelid where the eyelashes grow.
Blepharitis commonly occurs when tiny oil glands located near the base of the eyelashes malfunction. This leads to inflamed, irritated and itchy eyelids. Several diseases and conditions can cause blepharitis.
Blepharitis is often a chronic condition that is difficult to treat. Blepharitis can be uncomfortable and may be unattractive, but it usually doesn’t cause permanent damage to your eyesight.
Blepharitis cannot be cured. However, it can be treated and controlled through proper eyelid hygiene. Left untreated, blepharitis can cause more serious conditions such as scarring or injury to the eye’s tissue. If you have blepharitis, take the steps listed below to help treat and cleanse your eye:
Take a clean washcloth and wet it in very warm water. Wring the washcloth and place it over the closed eyelids for five minutes. Re-wet as necessary to maintain desired temperature. This will help to soften crusts and loosen oily debris.
Diabetes is a disease that affects blood vessels throughout the body, particularly vessels in the kidneys and eyes. When the blood vessels in the eyes are affected, this is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults. Approximately 25% of current diabetics have some form of the disease.
There are two main forms of diabetic retinopathy. The first is the non-proliferative type, or background retinopathy. The second type is proliferative retinopathy. The background form is usually less severe. This type is a warning sign to the possible progression to proliferative retinopathy.
In background retinopathy, tiny vessel abnormalities, called micro-aneurysms, form in the retina. These weakened vessels may bleed within, or underneath the retina.
Proliferative retinopathy is noted by the growth of fibrovascular tissue. Vessels may bleed into the vitreous. When this advanced stage of retinopathy occurs, retinal laser is performed.