7 Eye Problems and What They Mean

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At some point in their lives, most people experience some kind of eye problem. While many of these issues are benign, some could indicate more serious medical conditions. Here’s an overview of seven eye problems and what they can potentially mean.

1. Red Eyes

Eye redness is usually a sign of irritation or infection. It could occur when foreign material ends up in the eye, causing irritation. Eye strain, a lack of sleep, eye dryness, and seasonal allergies are also potential causes.

Infections like pink eye – a condition also known as conjunctivitis that an estimated 6 million Americans get each year – can also cause red eyes. 

Since eye redness can occur due to a wide variety of situations, it’s best to consult with a physician.  If it’s accompanied by other symptoms, including pain, fever, or changes in vision, you should seek medical care right away.

2. Vision Changes

Vision changes can occur due to a wide variety of changes in the eye or in the muscles or nerves attached to it. Nearsightedness or farsightedness can develop or worsen as you age. Macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and many other medical conditions can also change a person’s visual field or acuity. As a result, all vision changes should prompt a visit to an eye doctor. And you should follow up with an eye doctor for routine eye care.

3. Light Sensitivity

Light sensitivity, also called photophobia, can occur due to eye strain or dry eye, as well as infections and injuries. Medications, migraines, and allergies may also lead to some photophobia. It can also occur due to inflammatory conditions or if there’s a retinal tear or detachment. Since the causes are so varied, if you experience light sensitivity, you should seek evaluation by a doctor and let them know all the symptoms you’re having.

4. Pain and Pressure

Pain and pressure in the eye area can be caused by a variety of conditions. Sinus congestion may be a cause, as well as migraines or physical trauma relating to an accident or injury. However, it can be a sign of more serious conditions, including hyperthyroidism, optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and others.

5. Night Blindness

Night blindness is a condition that makes seeing at night or in dark spaces difficult. It can occur in those with nearsightedness, due to a vitamin A deficiency, and in those who have other eye conditions, such as cataracts or degenerative retinal diseases. If night blindness develops, seeing a doctor immediately is best.

6. Floaters

Floaters are usually normal, particularly as a person ages. In that case, they develop gradually over time. If you’re concerned about this, your eye doctor can check for them during your exam. However, if they develop suddenly, it could be a sign of a more severe issue, such as retinal detachment. That’s particularly concerning if there’s a sudden significant increase in the number of floaters or additional symptoms, such as bright flashes or darkening peripheral vision. If this happens, seek medical attention immediately.

7. Dry Eyes

Dry eyes is a common condition – with an estimated 16 million Americans having it – that can have a wide range of causes. Low humidity, infrequently blinking, allergies, and low tear production may lead to dry eyes. Certain autoimmune conditions or other diseases may also lead to dryness. Since the potential causes are numerous, it’s wise to get evaluated by a medical professional if dry eyes persist.

Any time you have a new problem with your eyes or a change in your vision, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor. For some patients, such as those with diabetes and high blood pressure, you’ll need regular eye exams to make sure you don’t develop complications from your condition. If you have a chronic eye problem, like glaucoma or cataracts, make sure you keep up with your followup visits at your eye doctor to get routine care for your eye condition.