Did you know about these 4 Common Eye Diseases?
Our eyes are the windows to our bodies and minds. They show us how we feel, how healthy we are, and how well we’re aging. Many eye diseases don’t cause any symptoms until it’s too late to reverse them. The good news is that many eye diseases are entirely preventable! The following common eye diseases all have specific causes (such as diabetes) and symptoms (such as blurry vision), so it’s important for you to be aware of them:
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of your eye that converts light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain.
Diabetes can damage blood vessels in several ways:
- High blood sugar levels cause the walls of small arteries to swell, narrow and stiffen. This reduces blood flow through these vessels, which leads to poor circulation throughout your body — including in your eyes.
- High glucose levels encourage abnormal growth of new blood vessels (veins) from existing ones (arteries). These abnormal veins tend to grow under or over top layers of cells within retinal tissue. They may then leak fluid or bleed into surrounding tissues, causing scarring and vision loss.
- If you have both diabetes and high cholesterol levels, you’re more likely than someone without these conditions to develop advanced-stage diabetic retinopathy because high cholesterol can also narrow or block arteries throughout your body including those supplying oxygenated blood to your retina.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S., affecting more than 2 million Americans. The condition occurs when the pressure inside your eye becomes too high, which causes damage to the optic nerve that sends information from your retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye) to your brain.
Glaucoma causes no pain or symptoms until it’s advanced and irreversible, so if you notice any of these telltale signs, visit an eye doctor immediately:
- Blurred vision
- Severe headache
- Dilation or redness of both eyes
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye, and can lead to blurry vision. They’re most commonly caused by aging, genetics and UV exposure.
Depending on the severity of your cataract, you may be able to have it removed with surgery. If you do decide to get this type of procedure done, make sure to talk with your doctor about all of your options before making any decisions.
Myopia is a condition in which a person can see near objects well, but has trouble seeing things far away. It’s caused by the eye being too long or too curved.
The condition is common among children; about one in four teens has some degree of myopia (1). Certain genes may be involved in its development as well (2).
Many eye diseases are entirely preventable!
You may be wondering how eye diseases are preventable. The answer is simple: through diet and exercise, early detection, and surgical intervention.
Diabetes can be controlled with diet and regular exercise; this will keep your blood pressure low, which in turn will reduce the risk of developing glaucoma. The earlier you detect glaucoma, the better your odds are of avoiding permanent vision loss. Cataracts can be surgically removed by a skilled ophthalmologist—and doing so early enough means that you won’t have to deal with cloudy vision on a day-to-day basis later in life. And if your eyesight isn’t perfect? There are ways to correct it! Glasses or contacts can be prescribed to help improve vision when it’s not perfect.
The eye is a very sensitive organ, and it’s important to take good care of your vision. If you see any of these symptoms in yourself or others, visit an optometrist as soon as possible! We hope this article has helped you understand the basics on common eye diseases.