When people have good vision and healthy eyes, they probably don’t think twice about their eyes until they experience eye discomfort and pain or another vision-related issue.
There are many reasons as to why someone may suddenly or even progressively experience eye or vision problems, but we will discuss some of the most common issues as well as the signs, symptoms, and the best treatment methods.
Learning about eye and vision problems can help you determine whether or not you need to visit an ophthalmologist right away or when an annual eye exam may be more suitable.
Common Eye and Vision Problems
If you notice your vision changing or even experience sudden pain or discomfort, these could indicate a variety of eye or vision problems. If your vision changes drastically, you should call a doctor immediately, and he or she can refer you to an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Even if a vision issue seems to come and go, and doesn’t seem severe, don’t delay in having your eyes checked out by a professional.
Vision problems are also known as refractive errors. Here are some of the most common vision problems; if you experience vision issues that are not described here, call your doctor.
Nearsightedness is also known as myopia and is a condition where objects appear more clearly up close than far away.
Farsightedness is basically the opposite of nearsightedness. If you are farsighted, you see objects in the distance more clearly than when viewing them up close.
If you have astigmatism, this means that your eyes cannot focus light evenly and images can appear blurry and stretched out. Some people experience astigmatism as well as near or farsightedness.
Cataracts occur when proteins clump together in the lens of your eye. Cataracts often appear as a grey or opaque spot on the pupil, and a person with cataracts often feels as though he or she is looking through frosted glass.
Someone with glaucoma may not even know if he or she has the eye disease because it’s typically painless. Glaucoma occurs when internal eye pressure leads to retinal damage, which can cause the optic nerve to deteriorate. When the internal pressure is extremely high, the person with glaucoma may see a green halo around light sources.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-Related Macular Degeneration has two forms, wet and dry. AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults. In both forms, the epithelium pigment layer under the retina decays, and the vision cells die.
Dry Eye Disease
Dry eye disease occurs when the wet film on your eye is chronically dry. Although there are many environmental and lifestyle factors to blame for dry eye, it can also be caused by your eye’s inability to make tears (or lachrymal fluid).
Retinitis Pigmentosa is a genetic condition that causes the photosensitive cells in the retina to die. As the cells die, an individual with this eye disease may experience tunnel vision and eventually night blindness.
Although many of these common vision and eye problems affect people over the age of 35, there’s a chance that it can affect anyone of any age, so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of vision issues.
Signs and Symptoms of Eye and Vision Problems
More than 5.5 million Canadians have a major eye disease that could lead to vision loss. Vision loss is a broad term that covers all individuals who are blind or partially sighted. In Ontario, there are at least 186,954 residents with vision loss. An estimated 1.4 million Canadians live with AMD, and it’s the leading cause of vision loss in Canada.
If you are experiencing signs or symptoms that are not listed here but are worrisome, don’t hesitate to see an eye doctor. It’s better to get a second opinion than taking the risk of living with a vision problem.
Common signs and symptoms eye and vision problems include, but may not be limited to:
- Eye pain that is severe, appears suddenly or is reoccurring
- Seeing rainbow halos, flashes of light, floating spots, “spider webs,” or a moving “curtain” in one eye
- The sudden or increased feeling of pressure in your eye(s)
- Having hazy, blurred, foggy, or double vision
- Any vision changes that occur suddenly, persistently, or worsen over time
- Increased or sudden sensitivity to light
- Itchy, swollen, burning, dry red eyes that may have discharge
- Changes in colour of the iris or white areas in the pupil
You may have vision or eye problems if you begin to experience problems in your daily activities, such as:
Getting Around at Home or During Daily Activities
If you hesitate to walk, use stairs, or walk on uneven surfaces, you may have vision or eye issues. Other signs and symptoms may include shuffling your feet as you walk or feeling or holding onto the walls to help guide you as you walk. Missing objects by under or overreaching may also be a symptom of a vision-related issue.
Affecting Your Everyday Activities
Vision changes can prevent you from doing some of the things you enjoy or even partake in your daily routine. If you have to tilt your head to the side or squint to see something better, you may have a vision problem.
Individuals with eye disease or other vision-related problems often have difficulty in identifying faces, objects, colours, or locating everyday items (such as keys or a phone) in a familiar environment, like at home. Some adults with deteriorating vision may be less likely to read, watch television, drive, or attend social engagements.
Problems with Eating and Drinking
When an individual experiences vision changes, he or she may be unable to enjoy eating and drinking and may even struggle to eat healthily or get proper nutrition. Some common signs and symptoms of vision problems when eating and drinking include having a hard time getting and keeping food on a fork or spoon.
Mealtimes can become particularly frustrating as it becomes increasingly difficult to cut food, serve food, or even prepare a meal. Over pouring liquids or knocking over drinking glasses may also be a telltale sign that one’s vision is problematic.
Inability to Read, Write, or Use a Computer or Smartphone
As problems with vision take over, some individuals may be less likely to or completely unable to read mail, newspapers, books, or other printed materials (even for a short period). Some may hold reading materials closer or further away to make it easier to read, and some may sit very close to a computer screen when working on the computer.
Writing may become less legible or written at a slant (such as when writing a check or filling out a form). Some may even avoid reading anything that’s handwritten.
Change in Mood or Behavior
Although this may be a less common sign and symptom of vision loss and other vision-related issues, a noticeable change in mood or behaviour may be common in some individuals. This sign is particularly important for caregivers or family members of older adults.
Coming to terms with vision loss or even having the ability to articulate the changes in vision can be frustrating, confusing, and difficult. If a loved one starts to exhibit some of the signs and symptoms listed above, don’t be surprised if you start to notice a change in behaviour such as becoming impatient more quickly, angry, or even a little withdrawn.
Someone with vision issues may complain of headaches or feeling a little “off.” While it’s easy to assume that someone might be fully aware of a vision problem right away, it may take awhile to recognize or admit.
Treating Eye and Vision Problems
Since issues with your vision or concerns about your eye health could be any number of diagnoses (and even some not mentioned here), you should visit your doctor, an ophthalmologist, or a Toronto optometrist as soon as you notice changes in your eyes or vision.
Unless you’re in extreme pain or cannot see, you may want to wait a few hours up to a day to see your issues pass as many other health issues, such as a migraine, can temporarily affect your vision. If you’re unsure what to do, call a nurse hotline or your doctor’s office for advice and further instruction.
Treating eye and vision problems vary depending on the nature and severity of the problem, that’s why you need to make an appointment with a medical professional.
Treatment for vision changes like far or nearsightedness or astigmatism often includes a prescription for glasses or contact lenses. Some individuals may opt for laser eye surgery if they are eligible.
People who have vision issues like cataracts or glaucoma can manage and improve their vision and eye health through medication, eye drops, and surgery. AMD treatment is more about managing the disease than treating or stopping the damage. Regular eye exams and laser surgery can slow down the vision loss.
In almost all cases of vision loss or eye disease, early detection is key that’s why annual eye exams are strongly recommended, especially if you have a family history of eye disease and vision problems.
Preventing Vision Loss
One of the best ways to prevent vision loss in the first place is to have an annual eye exam, especially for individuals over the age of 45. If you notice changes in your vision (even small ones), it’s a good idea to make an appointment with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Living a healthy lifestyle can also keep your eyes healthy and help prevent vision loss. Some tips for keeping your eyes healthier include:
- Using a home humidifier if you have dry eyes and limiting your use of OTC eye drops
- Protect your eyes from the wind and sun by wearing sunglasses with UV protection
- Use adequate lighting when working on a computer or reading. 100 or 150 watt light bulbs can help reduce eye strain
- If you smoke tobacco, it’s time to think about quitting as it is a major risk factor for AMD
- Always wear eye protection when working with power tools, chemicals, or anything that could potentially injure or damage your eye
- Eat a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals (such as carrots, kale, and citrus)
- Avoid driving at night if you have poor vision or struggle to see things clearly on the road
Even though our eyes are hardworking and durable organs, you should always use common sense and think about protecting your eyes whenever you have the chance or when it seems appropriate.
Educating Yourself and Being Aware of Any Vision Changes
Now that you know more about the common eye and vision problems, some signs and symptoms, and a few popular treatment options, you might be more likely to make a quick and well-informed decision if you experience a vision problem or an issue with your eyes.
Proper care and prevention is the key to healthy eyes, but sometimes vision loss is hard to prevent due to hereditary factors. On your quest to maintaining healthy vision, do a little research to see if there are any vision problems or eye disease in your family.
If there’s a history of vision problems in your family, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have them too but it’s always good to be better prepared.
Vision changes should not be ignored or undiagnosed. A change in your vision or pain in your eye could be any number of things and the only one who can give you a proper diagnosis is your optometrist or ophthalmologist. It’s also important to remember that if you are diagnosed with a vision problem, there are many easy and successful treatments available.Leave a reply →