EYE CARE INFORMATION

Vision and eye problems can range from mild problems with eyesight that are easily correctible to severe problems and even the total inability to see, or blindness.

Causes of Vision Problems

The types of vision problems that people experience can be caused by viruses, be genetic in nature or simply become more common as people get older. Cataracts, for example, are one of the most common eye problems and affect millions of people. The lens of the eye becomes opaque or cloudy, a condition that usually develops with age in people older than 55.

Myopia is another common vision problem. Commonly called nearsightedness, myopia means that an individual can see items up close clearly but things in the background tend to be blurry. It's believed to be hereditary in most instances and is easily correctible. The opposite of myopia is hyperopia, or farsightedness. Though not as common as myopia, it still impacts many, and it, too, is usually correctible.

Another common vision problem is age-related macular degeneration, or AMD -- the leading cause of severe vision and blindness in older adults. With this condition, central vision gradually begins to deteriorate because of problems with the macula. Glaucoma, another cause of vision loss, occurs as pressure builds up in the eye over time. And then there’s conjunctivitis, the medical term for “pink eye,” which can be caused by a virus, bacteria or other sources of infection.

Treatment

Treatments for eye and vision problems vary widely, depending on the nature and severity of the condition. Common vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism (trouble focusing because of a slightly misshapen cornea) are often treated with eyeglasses, contacts or a corrective therapy. Conjunctivitis is typically treated like a medical condition, with medication used to end the infection. Some disorders, such as cataracts, may require a surgical procedure to correct.

In some instances, eye conditions may be linked to problems elsewhere in the body. An example of this is diabetic retinopathy, in which the eyes are damaged as the result of complications from diabetes. In such situations, treatment of the underlying disorder in addition to more specific treatments of the eye problems will probably be needed.

SOURCES: American Optometric Association; U.S. National Eye Institute

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