Untreated eye diseases can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness. Regular eye exams are a critical tool for detecting eye diseases in their early stages, allowing your optometric team to begin treatment as soon as possible, slowing or even preventing vision loss.

Most eye diseases do not exhibit symptoms in their early stages. By the time many patients notice a change in their vision, they have already experienced irreversible vision loss.

The only way to detect eye diseases in their early stages is by undergoing an eye examination.

Your vision is one of your most valuable assets; do not put it at risk. Book your next eye exam today.

Common Eye Diseases

Some eye diseases are more common than others and can rob you of your sight if they are allowed to progress.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a condition that causes your macula (the small central area of your retina) to deteriorate, affecting your vision. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans, affecting approximately 6.5% of Americans over the age of 40.

As the disease progresses, your central vision is slowly lost.

There are two forms of AMD:

  • Dry AMD is the most common form and is typically less serious than its wet counterpart. Dry AMD is caused by drusen (lipid deposits) that slowly accumulate under your macula, damaging the light-sensitive cells. It can potentially cause permanent vision loss or blindness. Though there is no cure for Dry AMD, the large scale Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) found that the progression of Dry AMD may be slowed by consuming nutritional supplements and antioxidants, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc.
  • Wet AMD is much rarer than Dry AMD, but unfortunately, it progresses more quickly and is more debilitating. Wet AMD causes new blood vessels to grow beneath your macula. However, these blood vessels are not strong, and typically leak blood and fluids, permanently damaging the light-sensitive macular cells. Treatment includes intraocular injections to halt progression.

Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process and occur when the proteins in our natural lenses become cloudy and opaque, impairing our vision. Symptoms of cataracts include

  • Hazy or blurry vision
  • Reduced color vision
  • Increased sensitivity to glare, particularly while driving at night

Though most of us will develop cataracts as we age, factors such as UV exposure, diabetes, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption can increase your chances of developing cataracts earlier. Cataracts typically become worse over time, so while your optometrist may be able to suggest workarounds to maximize your vision when your cataracts are only causing minimal visual disruption, once you begin to have difficulties performing your daily activities, such as reading or driving, you will need to undergo cataract surgery.

Conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye”, is a condition that develops when the conjunctiva (the thin, transparent film that covers the white of your eye) becomes irritated and inflamed. This irritation causes your blood vessels to dilate, giving your eyes a red, bloodshot look and giving pink eye its name.

There are three main forms of conjunctivitis:

  • Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by allergens such as pollen, dust, or animal dander. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection. It is highly contagious and requires treatment.
  • Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, and like the common cold, does not typically require treatment. Still, viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious.
  • In most cases, eye floaters are perfectly normal and harmless and are caused by tiny pieces of protein called collagen, floating around in the vitreous (the clear, gel-like fluid) that fills the inside of your eye. As we age, the vitreous becomes less gel-like, allowing floaters to move around more easily and making them more noticeable.

    However, if you experience bright flashes of light followed by a shower of floaters, or new floaters, it may indicate that your retina has become torn or detached. Retinal detachments are serious and require immediate medical attention to avoid vision loss.

    Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when your optic nerve becomes damaged, often as a result of high pressure inside your eye. Your optic nerve transmits visual information from your eye to your brain. Though glaucoma is typically caused by high intraocular pressure, it can also occur when your intraocular pressure is within the normal range; a condition called normal tension glaucoma.

    Glaucoma typically does not exhibit any symptoms until you have already begun to experience permanent peripheral vision loss, so many people with glaucoma are unaware they have the condition. Glaucoma is treatable, but early detection is critical. That is why all comprehensive eye exams performed at La Paz Optometric Center include glaucoma testing. Our team uses a variety of tests, including non-contact tonometry (the air puff test) and Goldmann Applanation Tonometry, using an iCare Tonometer.

    The key to preventing permanent vision loss and blindness caused by eye disease is early detection and treatment. Safeguard your vision by booking your next eye exam today.