Signs of Eye Disease
There are many signs that you may have an eye disease. If you have any of these symptoms or risk factors, make an appointment with Dr. Myers for a comprehensive medical eye exam. This eye exam will help you keep your vision healthy.
Bulging of One or Both Eyes
Bulging eyes are called proptosis or exophthalmos. This condition can be caused by Graves disease which is an overactivity of the thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism. The eyes may become dry and irritated which may cause watering. People with proptosis may blink less often or appear to stare. Depending on the cause of the bulging eyes, the afflicted may also have double vision or difficulty focusing. The optic nerve can be stretched or pinched, which can cause more vision problems.
Dark Curtain Blocking Your Vision
If you experience the sensation that a black curtain is coming down into your vision, this is called amaurosis fugax and is usually a temporary condition. It can affect one or both eyes and can last for a few seconds to several hours. Several causes can precede the onset of vision loss and usually fall under one of five origins:
Although the condition is temporary, you must be examined by an ophthalmologist at once. This condition can be a symptom of an impending vascular event, such as a stroke or cardiac disease.
A temporary loss of vision, also called episodic blindness, is rare but can lead to permanent vision loss. If you lose sudden vision in one eye, call 911 or get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Like amaurosis fugax, a temporary loss of vision can be caused by loss of blood flow to the eye due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol. diabetes, or smoking. Other causes of temporary blindness can include migraine headaches, sickle cell disease, and acute angle-closure glaucoma.
Diabetes mellitus prevents your body from correctly converting energy from the food you eat. It can impact all structures in the eye, along with many parts of visual function. Diabetic retinopathy is the most threatening complication of diabetes, as it can lead to blindness. There are two kinds of diabetes mellitus: Type 1 and Type 2. Both types have several risk factors that can cause diabetes to occur. These risk factors include:
- Family history
- Viral exposure
- Autoimmune condition
- History of gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
You can do your part to prevent diabetes from occurring by losing weight and increasing exercise. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can reduce the risk of complications with either Type 1 or Type 2. Visual problems that can occur include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, loss of visual acuity, changes in color vision, glaucoma, cataracts, and much more. Talk with your doctor to see if you are at risk for diabetes and what steps you can take to prevent it.
If familiar objects look wavy or are bent incorrectly, you may be experiencing distorted vision. There are several causes of distorted vision: astigmatism, conjunctivitis (pink eye), kerataconus, macular degeneration, macular edema, macular hole, or macular pucker. If you have any unusual vision issues, contact your ophthalmologist at once. If you are noticing an eye problem, it may have been getting worse long before now. Your ophthalmologist can provide you with a comprehensive medical eye exam to make sure you are healthy.
Diplopia, or double vision, can affect either one or both eyes. A person suffering from double vision will see a double image where there should only be one. The images may be side by side, on top of one another, or a combination of both. Double vision can negatively impact your balance, movement, or reading ability. Double vision can be caused by nerve or muscle damage and some illnesses can weaken the muscles that move the eyes. A common cause of double vision in children is strabismus. Strabismus is when the eyes are not properly aligned and can be caused by eye muscles that are paralyzed, weak, restricted, too strong, overactive, or other abnormalities. Other causes of double vision include:
- Black eye
- Brain tumors
- Convergence insufficiency
- Head injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Thyroid disfunction
Sometimes double vision can be temporary and can be caused by intoxication, medication side effects, concussions, or being tired. If normal vision doesn’t return quickly, call your ophthalmologist today.
Excessive Watery Eyes
Most everyone has tears from time to time, but if you are suffering from excessive tearing or watery eyes, you could have an underlying disease or health condition. The tear ducts can become blocked by infection, inflammation, or congestion. Blocked tear ducts can also occur because of diseases such as lymphoma, IgG related diseases, and sarcoidosis. Trauma and radiation treatments can also block tear ducts. If the outer membrane of the eye becomes irritated, your eye may water. Pink eye (conjunctivitis), irritants, and allergies can all be causes of watery eyes. Other causes of watery eyes could be ectropion, exophthalmos, foreign body in the eye, infection, medications, or an injury to the eye or near it.
The term “eye injury” covers a lot of ground from scratches to more serious injuries. All of them can affect your vision, regardless of the severity. Minor scratches can become infected, so you should have them checked out by your eye doctor. You can protect your eyes from harm by wearing protective gear such as goggles and safety glasses. Some eye injuries include such problems as scratches, foreign objects, chemical burns, swollen eye, eye bleeding, traumatic iritis, hyphemas, or orbital fractures. You should contact your eye doctor immediately for any eye injury. If the injury is severe, your best bet is to go immediately to the hospital’s emergency room.
Eye pain, also known as ophthalmalgia, can be located on the eye’s surface (ocular pain) or within the eye (orbital pain). Eye pain can be a common occurrence and is rarely a symptom of something serious. Ocular pain can be caused by a scratch or irritation from a foreign object, trauma, or infection. Orbital pain may feel aching, gritty, throbbing, or stabbing. If the eye pain is accompanied by vision loss may be a symptom of a medical emergency and should be treated as soon as possible. Causes of ocular pain can be caused by:
- Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
- Contact lens irritation
- Corneal abrasion
- Foreign object
Orbital pain can be caused by the following:
- Optic neuritis
If you are experiencing severe eye pain, abdominal pain and vomiting, or sudden and dramatic vision changes, you should get immediate medical attention.
There are many ways that an eyelid could be considered abnormal. Problems may present themselves at birth or occur as the child grows and develops. Some eyelid abnormalities include blepharophimosis, colobomas, cryptophthalmos, canthal dystopias, ectropion, entropion, epicanthal folds, lid retraction, and ptosis. Several considerations go into determining the next steps when dealing with eyelid abnormalities. These include vision problems, social factors, and other variables.
Family History of Eye Disease
The eye health of your family can play a big part in any eye conditions you may have. Genetics can have a big role in eye health ranging from common vision problems to blindness. Researchers have connected a link between family history and problems such as near- and farsightedness, astigmatism, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. If there is a history of vision problems in your family, don’t wait to get a comprehensive vision test. Many eye problems have no symptoms in their early stages, so it can be almost impossible to detect it without medical tests.
Floaters or Flashes of Light
Floaters or flashes of light may also look like spots in your vision. If you try looking directly at them, they may seem to dart away. Most of the time, floaters are caused by changes in your eye as you age. The jelly-like substance inside your eye becomes more liquid and microscopic fibers within the substance may clump and cast shadows on your retina. If you see a sudden increase in the number of floaters, especially if they are combined with light flashes, you need to call your eye specialist immediately. They can be symptoms of a retinal tear, with or without a retinal detachment. In addition to the age-related causes, floaters can also be caused by an inflammation in the back of the eye, bleeding in the eye, a torn retina, eye surgery, or eye medication.
A bright circle, or halo, around a light source can be a serious symptom. These halos are more easily noticeable in a dimly lit room or at night. Sometimes a halo is a normal occurrence that can happen when wearing glasses or contacts, or if you have had LASIK or cataract surgery. If the halos suddenly appear or are accompanied by pain, blurred vision, or other symptoms, they could be a sign of a serious vision problem. Some medical causes of halos include:
- Cataract surgery
- Dry eyes
- Fuchs’ dystrophy
- LASIK surgery
- Ocular migraine
If you have halos along with other symptoms, set up an appointment to have a medical eye exam performed by an ophthalmologist.
High Blood Pressure
Untreated hypertension, or high blood pressure, can not only damage your heart and kidneys, but it can harm your eyesight and lead to eye disease. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the retina and is known as hypertensive retinopathy. If the problem is mild to moderate, you may not notice any problems, however, if the hypertension is severe you may experience headaches and vision problems. If you have high blood pressure, you will need to keep it under control through diet, exercise, and hypertension medication. You should follow up with your ophthalmologist and primary care physician to continue keeping it under control.
HIV or AIDS
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, a life-threatening, but preventable disease. AIDS can allow people to get serious infections that may not harm healthy people. These infections include ones that can affect the patient’s vision. Some HIV/AIDS-related eye problems include HIV retinopathy, cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Your ophthalmologist will ask about your symptoms and medical history and then perform an eye exam and vision test. For more information on AIDS, call the 24-hour CDC Hotline: 1-800-232-4636.
Loss of Peripheral Vision
The loss of peripheral vision can come on gradually or it can be very sudden. The loss of your peripheral vision can make it difficult to walk, drive, or see things around you. The causes of peripheral vision loss can be an ocular migraine, glaucoma, stroke, an aneurysm, retinal detachment, or even a pituitary tumor. Your ophthalmologist will be able to determine the cause of the vision loss, along with the best course of treatment.
The technical term for misaligned eyes is “strabismus” and the misalignment can be temporary or permanent. In most cases, one eye focuses on the object of interest while the other eye may turn in, out, down, or up. In some instances, the eye that is fixated on the object of interest may switch, which is good because it shows that both eyes are strong. However, if one eye is always the one to fixate, it is probably the one with the best vision. The brain may compensate for the misalignment, but the person may have double vision, poor stereo vision, and poor depth perception. The causes for strabismus are varied and, in some instances, unknown. Some causes include:
- Cranial nerve palsies
- Eye injuries
- High farsightedness
- Myasthenia gravis
- Thyroid disease
Misaligned eyes can be corrected through various methods including exercises, medications, and surgery. Talk to your ophthalmologist about any concerns or questions you may have regarding strabismus.
Thyroid Disease-Related Eye Problems
Some people that have eye problems may already know that they have thyroid disease, while others may have no clue until they get diagnosed while treating an eye problem. Some symptoms that they may experience are dry eyes, watery eyes, red eyes, double vision, bulging eyes, difficulty closing their eyes, and vision problems. Thyroid problems are usually caused by an autoimmune disorder. Although blood tests may show that you have a thyroid problem, some people that have thyroid-related eye problems have normal blood test results. Your ophthalmologist can examine your eyes and determine the best course of treatment. This may involve medication, surgery, or other forms of treatment.
Unusual Red Eyes
Red eyes occur when the tiny blood vessels on the surface of the eye expand and turn the whites of the eye red or pink. There are many causes for red eyes like drinking alcohol, smoke exposure, pink eye, allergies, a broken blood vessel, or even glaucoma. Most of the time, red eyes aren’t anything to worry about and will go away in a short amount of time. However, if you have any of the following symptoms along with red eyes, you should contact your doctor.
- A foreign object or substance in your eye
- Inability to keep the eye open
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Severe headache, pain in the eye, or fever
- Sudden change in vision
- Sudden halos around lights
- Swelling in the eye
Don’t use eye drops for a long period of time, as your eye will begin to rely on those drops and will become even redder.
Keep Your Eyes Healthy
Let Dr. Myers and his staff help you keep your eyes and the rest of your body healthy with regular eye exams. Contact us to learn more about all that we can do to keep your vision strong.