Various eye conditions can lead to visual impairments. As we get older, we should watch out for warning signs of age-related eye problems and vision loss, because early detection is the key to preventing many vision-threatening conditions from progressing.
To further understand the types and causes of visual impairments, here are some of the most common vision problems to look for, and the vision-correcting aids – such as prescription glasses, contact lenses, or surgery – that are used to relieve them:
Refractive Error-related Vision Problems
Refractive errors cause imperfections in the light refracting ability of the eye leading to vision problems, some of which are as follows:
1. Blurred Vision
Blurred vision is one of the most common visual impairments that can affect the shape of either one eye or both eyes. This condition can arise from a variety of reasons and, in turn, affect the clarity of vision causing mild blurring of objects at a distance or up-close. Although it can be corrected by vision-correcting glasses, blurred vision may mean something more than just needing a new pair of eyeglasses. The only way to know for certain is to perform an eye test.
A. Myopia (Nearsightedness)
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness or shortsightedness, is one of the most common eye conditions and a type of refractive error where close objects appear clearly, but objects that are far away appear blurry. Myopia is most often diagnosed in children between 8 and 12 years of age and may worsen during teen years. People with myopia have a higher risk for retinal tear (damage to the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye that transmits visual information via the optic nerve to the brain) and glaucoma. The good news is that myopia can usually be corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses and refractive surgeries.
B. Hyperopia (Farsightedness)
Hyperopia is another type of refractive error where distant objects are clear, while close objects appear blurry. It is usually caused when shape of the eye is shortened, or the cornea is flatter than normal, which hinders light from focusing properly on the retina. Farsightedness is less common than nearsightedness, and it is often an inherited condition. Just like myopia, this condition can usually be corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses and refractive surgeries.
Astigmatism is a type of refractive error or vision condition that causes blurry or distorted vision. It is marked by an imperfection in the actual shape of the cornea of the eye. Light rays fall unevenly on the retina’s surface and this causes the eye to have a difficult time focusing on the light equally, leading to distorted or blurry vision when looking at objects up-close or at a distance. While many people are born with astigmatism, this is a condition that can develop over time. If left unnoticed, it can lead to more serious and permanent eye conditions such as lazy eye.
Presbyopia occurs due to the normal aging of the lens inside the eye. The condition commonly occurs when the lens of the eye loses its flexibility and becomes stiff. This could lead to problems in focusing, particularly when looking at nearby objects. It’s important to realize that Presbyopia can happen to anyone and it can also occur along with myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. Just like any other refractive error-related eye conditions, Presbyopia can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Common Ophthalmological Conditions that Affect Vision
Some of the other eye conditions and disorders that affect eyesight are as follows:
With aging, chemical composition of the eyes’ lenses experience a gradual change that causes the clumping together of protein molecules, making it less transparent and leading to cloudy vision. This cloudy obstruction of the lens is called a cataract. Most cataracts develop gradually with age, are painless, and don’t become bothersome until after age 60. If left untreated, a cataract may grow larger and obstruct the light passing through the lens, leading to blindness in the affected eye. Cataracts can also be caused by certain diseases, such as diabetes, or can occur from the prolonged use of certain medications, such as steroids.
2. Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a vision-threatening eye condition, caused by Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, in which the blood vessels in the retina of the eye gets damaged. It occurs when the damaged blood vessels in the retina leak blood and other fluids, which in turn causes the retinal tissue to swell and the scarring of the eye, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness. If you are diabetic, regular eye exams are crucial and your eyes should be checked at least once a year.
One of the leading causes of blindness among the elderly in developed countries, macular degeneration is a condition caused by the deterioration or breakdown of the macula with age, leading to significant loss of central vision which makes it hard to see faces, read, drive and more. The macula is a small part in the central retina that allows you to see fine details in your central vision clearly. There are different kinds of macular problems, but the most common is age-related macular degeneration. While there may be little that can be done to improve the sight of someone with macular degeneration, the rate of vision loss can be slowed down with early detection.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve usually as a result of an increase in pressure inside the eye that results when the naturally occurring fluid (aqueous humour) in the eye’s drainage canal does not drain properly out of the eye. This fluid build-up causes optic nerve damage, causes the gradual loss of peripheral vision first, leading to tunnel vision, and then moves progressively to affect your central vision. If left untreated, glaucoma can damage your retina, causing blinds spots, vision loss and even blindness. Treatments include medication or surgery that can regulate pressure inside the eye and slow down the resultant vision loss.
Having access to the appropriate vision-correcting aids can help improve the eyesight as well as the overall quality of living. Give us a call to learn more about any of the above vision problems or make an appointment for an eye test with an optometrist at a MAGRABi store near you.