Types of Eye Diseases

Inattention to proper eye health and care can lead to a range of diseases and conditions, all ranging in severity from myopia to blindness. Many of these conditions have nearly no symptoms, and the victim may not experience any pain or loss of vision before the disease has set in in full force. Therefore, the best way to prevent the degradation of eye health is with pre-emptive care by seeing an optometrist regularly. He or she will be able to recognize the signs of a problem earlier than the patient in most cases and get the ball rolling for treatment and possible prevention. Listed below are a few of the most common types of eye ailments, their effects, and possible treatment options.

Cataracts

Cataracts are a common form of degenerative eye disease often found in aging patients. However, in rare cases children can develop cataracts as infants or in their first few years of life. This is often difficult to detect due to its unexpected nature and the limited communication capabilities of the child. Cataracts are essentially a hardening of the eye’s crystalline lens, resulting in lack of ability to focus the eye, cloudy or blurry vision, double vision in one eye, sensitivity to light, and poor night vision. Smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and excessive alcohol intake all contribute to the development of cataracts. Surgery has been very successful in removing cataracts and replacing the hardened lens with a synthetic intraocular lens.

Color Blindness

In almost all varieties of color blindness, the affected person can see some amount of color, but has more difficulty distinguishing between them. The most common type involves difficulties distinguishing red from green, while another type is characterized by difficulty separating yellow and blue. A very rare type called monochromatism subjects its victims to a world of exclusively black and white. Color blindness of some type affects about 7% of men but only about 1% of women. It is a genetic condition carried by the y chromosome, and in most cases will be present from birth. There is no known treatment for color blindness currently, but fortunately those affected are most often able to live very normal lives with a few minor adaptations.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the result of a build-up of fluid in the eye that creates pressure on the optic nerve and damages it. This can cause severe vision loss and, in the most severe cases, total blindness. It affects over 2 million people in America alone. Symptoms often do not develop at all until the condition is very advanced. If caught early enough by a doctor, prescription eye drops may be used to encourage proper drainage of the fluid. in other cases, surgery may be required to relieve the pressure on the optic nerve. These options can treat glaucoma, but they cannot reverse the damage already done by it, so it is crucial to have regular eye examinations to prevent problems from developing.