I often receive questions regarding the eyes and eye diseases so I have summarized some of the most common problems. Many are not clear about the difference between cataracts and glaucoma. I also provide some tips about when and how to seek medical attention for acute eye problems.
This is a huge area so there is much more to write about but I have compiled the most common complaints from my experience.
Ophthalmology is divided into four different categories:
- Diseases of the eye relief agencies
- Diseases of the eye
- Diseases of the eyes related with the central nervous system
- General disorders that affect the eye
Below you can read briefly about the most common eye diseases.
Conjunctivitis is an eye disease that rarely leads to serious complications, but is mostly a very annoying and contagious ailment. It is only if you get an inflammation of the retina that the eye inflammation can lead to vision problems.
There are many reasons why people get eye inflammation. It may be that you’ve got something in your eye that irritates it, may be due to allergy, virus or bacteria. No matter how you’ve got your eye inflammation, you should be careful to wash your hands and use your own towel to wipe your face because conjunctivitis is a highly contagious eye disease. If your child is suffering from inflammation of the eye, the child can still go to kindergarten if the eyes are just a little red and a little sticky, but not if there is puss on the eyes that lasts as eye inflammation which is very contagious.
Inflammation of the cornea (keratitis) can make the eye become red, watery, chafing, causing pain and sensitivity to light. If the corneal inflammation is small and shallow it usually disappears by its self and does not leave any lasting effects. A more extensive inflammation of the cornea, however, can leave a lasting scar on the cornea that can affect your eyesight. The effect on your vision depends on how much cornel scarring there is and on how transparent it is. If you were to suffer a corneal scar it will no longer be safe to wear contact lenses.
Iritis, anterior uveitis
Iris inflammation is an inflammation that makes the eye become red and light sensitive. The eyes become watery and painful. Normally, Iritis doesn’t cause a loss of vision. The eye is treated with eye drops or injections containing cortisone.
Is one of the most common eye diagnoses; symptoms can be both acute and chronic. Most often, the condition is benign and goes away by itself after a while. The eyes become red and sticky, and you can get a feeling of having sand in your eyes. The vision is not affected.
The macula (macular degeneration)
Is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65. The macula deteriorates the visual cells function and the visual cells in the macula gradually atrophies and usually leads to blindness over time. Available in two forms; one called wet macular degeneration and one called dry macular degeneration.
Cataracts, also called cataract, is a disease that affects the eye’s lens, which sits behind the iris. The lens becomes cloudy and vision suffers. Cataracts develop slowly and treatment is available. It often affects the elderly and women over the age of 70 are the largest group. Most often both eyes are affected, but at varying rates. Even younger people can suffer from it. Cataracts can affect people of all ages but is rarer in the younger age groups.
When younger people suffer from it, it is most often due to other diseases such as diabetes. Smoking and malnutrition are other causes of cataracts.
It is common that the lens is tempered slightly by age, but with cataracts the symptoms are very serious and we still today do not know the cause of it today why it.
- The vision is slowly deteriorating; you may struggle to see things in the distance and judge distances. You will also find hard to read unless you have a very strong light.
- You find more difficult to see contours and colours, the ability will be greatly impaired.
- Double vision may occur.
- You can more easily be dazzled by the bright lights.
- The surrounding area looks mostly greyish.
If you’re usual optometrist cannot help please seek help from a specialistdoctor for an examination.
With cataracts there is no rush to seek treatment as the disease progresses very slowly. If you do not have major problems that hamper your daily life, you can judge if you need surgery or not. Discuss this further with your doctor. For more severe symptoms, surgery will necessary. The surgery is done through local anaesthesia and takes about half an hour and you will be able to go home on the same day. An artificial lens is inserted and you treat it with eye drops for a few weeks to prevent scarring and harmful deposits on the new lens.
It is a simple operation and many only need reading glasses after the surgery.
The disease usually affects older people and you rarely see it in people under 50 years. In glaucoma, there is often too much pressure in the eye that causes the optic nerve to slowly deteriorate. If you seek treatment early enough it can be treated by reducing the pressure in the eye which then stops the deterioration of the optic nerve. But if the damage has already occurred, it is permanent.
In chronic glaucoma the eye sight deteriorates so slowly as the pressure in the eye rises. If discovered in time most can be treated successfully and can thus maintain your vision for the rest of your life, if you follow the treatment advice carefully.
Symptoms of chronic glaucoma
The development of chronic glaucoma is usually very slow. It may take several years before you get clear trouble. That’s because the peripheral vision is affected first and finally hits the inner field of view, and that is when you as a patient usually notice it. Symptoms may also include seeing rainbow coloured rings of light around light sources.
Acute glaucoma is a more unusual variety, but if you suffer from it, it can be very serious. What happens then is that the pressure in the eye is raised suddenly and you get a quickly decreased vision. It usually affects only one eye. It is important to quickly contact a doctor to terminate the process. One can, at worst become blind or have very reduced vision.
Symptoms of acute glaucoma
You get sudden and strong pain in one eye, head, and sometimes nausea. The sight is impaired due to corneal swelling. You see rainbow colours around lights.
If you know you have family history of glaucoma you can prevent the disease by consulting an ophthalmologist for an examination before you reach an age where you are more at risk. This should then be repeated once a year.
When to see a doctor?
-Zigzag phenomenon or other shaped phenomena e.g. rings: Centrally induced migraine aura, often in younger people. Usually caused by external factors or is stress-induced, with or without headache. In the case of elderly people, they should be examined to exclude the possibility of tumours and treated in primary care.
-Sudden Hook vision (metamorphosis) can be signs of swelling in the macula. Newly vitreous symptoms with massive moving “dots / flies” floaters may indicate vitreous detachment or haemorrhage. Consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible, preferably within a week.
-Sudden accruing curtain phenomenon in one eye’s field of vision which inspires suspicion of retinal detachment with or without vitreous symptoms. Sudden loss of vision in part of an eye’s field of view. See an eye specialist urgently.
-Chemicals in the eye; alkalis, solvents, acids etc…