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Common Vision Issues

By Jessica Thomas November 05, 2020 Aging

We all want to maintain the best vision we can. Most of us couldn’t imagine everyday life without our vision, which is why it might be alarming to some when vision issues arise. A vision issue may develop due to various factors, and some are more common than you think. Most common vision issues have some form of treatment, but first, it is important to familiarize yourself with each one’s symptoms so you can tell if your vision ever falters. Keep reading on for some of the most common vision issues. 

#1 Cataract

This is one of the most common vision problems in older adults but may also affect young adults and children. A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye clouds up, leading to troubles with vision at night and while driving, due to the glare of headlights. Some of the risk factors for a cataract include: 

  • Too much exposure to sunlight
  • Certain diseases like Diabetes
  • Smoking and alcohol use 
  • Age (most cataracts occur to individuals over 60)

Fortunately, cataract treatment is widely available and highly successful. Cataract surgery involves replacing the clouded lens with an intraocular lens, which is an artificial lens. Cataract surgery is generally considered safe and done on an outpatient basis, so you don’t even have to stay overnight.

#2 Blurry Vision

Blurry vision is caused by refractive errors, which occurs when the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly. As a result, you get a blurred image. There are different types of blurry vision problems, and they may have different forms of treatment as well. The types of blurry vision include: 

  • Astigmatism: With this condition, the cornea’s shape does not permit it to direct light into the eye. 
  • Myopia (also known as nearsightedness): Here, faraway objects look blurry.
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness): This is the opposite of myopia. Therefore close-up objects look blurry. 
  • Presbyopia: A condition commonly caused by aging, and that results in farsightedness. Farsightedness usually occurs due to the loss of elasticity of the eye’s lens.

Blurry vision impacts many, but there are several different treatment options. For those with blurry vision, glasses, contacts, or surgery can usually correct this issue.

#3 Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when too much fluid pressure builds up in the eye and causes optic nerve damage. If not treated, glaucoma can lead to blindness. Symptoms of glaucoma aren’t usually present during the earlier development. However, when symptoms do begin, most notice that the vision loss starts with their peripheral vision. As a result, individuals have greater difficulty seeing things on their sides when they are looking straight ahead. 

There are two types of glaucoma: 

Open Angle Glaucoma

Open angle glaucoma progresses slowly over a period of time and accounts for nearly 90% of all glaucoma cases. With this chronic condition, the drainage canals gradually become clogged, which leads to increased pressure in the eye. Because disease progression is slow, the afflicted individual does not notice the vision loss until it is very advanced. 

Closed Angle Glaucoma

This form of glaucoma appears suddenly and requires immediate medical attention. Here, the drainage canals are blocked, which leads to a sudden increase in intraocular pressure. Symptoms of this glaucoma may include: 

  • intense eye pain
  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • blurry vision
  • red eye

While unpleasant, the pain and discomfort from closed angle glaucoma has one advantage. It leads patients to seek treatment quickly. As with most conditions, the sooner one gets treatment, the greater chance of reducing and/or preventing permanent damage. 

Treatment Options

When it comes to treatment for glaucoma, there are different options. The most common is prescriptive eye drops. There is also a laser treatment to lower the eye pressure, and if neither of these methods works, there may be surgery to drain the eye entirely.

#4 Amblyopia (Lazy eye) 

Amblyopia, also referred to as a lazy eye, is another extremely common eye issue. Lazy eye occurs when vision hasn’t properly developed in the eyes, and the brain begins to favor the eye with better vision. Improper development in the eyes can be due to one of the eyes being blocked from producing clear images during the critical development stage of birth to 6 years of age. One eye may also not fully develop due to other issues such as a tumor, lid droop, or misaligned eyes (also known as strabismus) that is not treated when a child is young. 

Symptoms of a lazy eye include: 

  • Trouble with depth perception (telling how far away or close something is) 
  • Head tilting 
  • Squinting or shutting one eye 

Depending on the severity of the case, treatment options include eyeglasses, eye drops, some form of cataract surgery, and wearing an eye patch. It is important to seek proper diagnosis and treatment so that you can prevent further damage to your eyes.

#5 Diabetic Retinopathy 

This vision issue is caused when diabetes swells the retina, which transforms light into signals your brain can process, and in turn, makes blood vessels leak or grow. This causes pain, pressure, floaters, blurriness, and flashes. This vision issue can affect anyone with type 1 or 2 diabetes. As diabetic retinopathy develops, some of the symptoms that may appear include: 

  • Spots or dark strings floating in the vision (floaters) 
  • Impaired color vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Fluctuating vision 
  • Dark or empty areas in the vision 
  • Vision loss 

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy can vary depending on the severity of the case. Mild diabetic retinopathy usually requires monitoring and the need to control blood sugar to further reduce development. More advanced cases of this vision issue may include laser treatments such as photocoagulation, which stop or slows the leakage of blood and fluid in the eye. Another type of treatment is vitrectomy, which is where a surgeon creates a tiny incision to remove blood from the middle of the eye. Lastly, some medical professionals recommend injecting medicine in the eye to block the production of new blood cells in the eyes. 

Overall, diabetic retinopathy can be prevented by managing diabetes, maintaining blood sugar levels, quitting smoking (if you do so), and keeping note of any and all vision changes.

Pay Attention to Your Vision 

Our vision is as essential as an arm and a leg. It is simply crucial for many, and we couldn’t imagine ever having any issues fall upon our vision. However, there are a variety of vision issues that are common for people of all ages. It can be startling to wake up and suddenly realize your vision is a little blurry, or you can’t see something on your side. It is important to take note of any small changes in your sight and to seek help with a professional quickly. Though vision issues can be worrying, a lot of them are treatable and just require a new pair of glasses or eye drops. Please don’t wait around when it comes to your vision. Seek a diagnosis for any affliction as soon as possible. 

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The Author

Jessica Thomas is a Public Health Professional, Health & Wellness Writer, and Entrepreneur. She has a B.S. in Health Administration with a focus on Aging Studies and an M.D. in Public Health. Before starting her business, Jessica worked for over 3 years as a Program Coordinator and Performance Improvement Leader in a hospital setting. Her roles focused on various senior initiatives such as fall reduction, preventing delirium, and addressing barriers in the healthcare system. Today, Jessica enjoys learning and educating others on aging in place, how tech solutions can help seniors, and health and wellness topics.

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