Most Common Eye Diseases and Their Treatments
If you are like many others, you may ignore the early signs that you have an eye condition or disease in the hopes that it will simply go away on its own. Visual problems are unlikely to clear up on their own. If you have the symptoms of one of the most common eye diseases, it is important for you to see your eye doctor. An ophthalmologist can diagnose the eye problem that you have and recommend an appropriate treatment regimen. This can help you to save your vision and even possibly to improve it.
While there are many different eye conditions, there are several that are more common. Macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma are some of the most prevalent eye diseases. Getting properly diagnosed and treating these diseases may help you to preserve your sight.
The leading cause of the loss of vision, macular degeneration affects more than 10 million people in the U.S. Several groups of people carry higher risks of developing macular degeneration, including:
- People with a family history of macular degeneration
- Older adults
People who smoke have twice the risk of developing macular degeneration as compared to nonsmokers. Caucasians are much likelier to develop macular degeneration than are people of other backgrounds. If you have someone in your family who has macular degeneration, you are also likelier to develop it. Finally, macular degeneration frequently occurs as people age. When the disease is associated with getting older, it is called age-related macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is caused by a deterioration of a structure inside of your eye called the macula. The macula is in the central visual field and collects detailed images to transmit to the brain through the optic nerve. As it deteriorates, the images are not properly received. In its early stages, people may not notice vision losses. In later stages, your vision may become wavy or blurred. Eventually, some people lose all of their central vision while still retaining their peripheral vision.
Macular degeneration is incurable. There are still things that you can do to slow its progression, however. You may benefit by making certain lifestyle changes, including:
- Quitting smoking
- Keeping your eyes shielded from ultraviolet light
- Exercising regularly
- Making more nutritional dietary choices
The treatments that might be available will depend on whether you have dry macular degeneration or wet macular degeneration. There is no known treatment for dry macular degeneration, but your doctor may recommend that you take a combination of supplements that have been shown to help slow its progression. These supplements include the following:
- Vitamins C and E
If you have wet macular degeneration, you may have more treatment options. Some people benefit by taking anti-VEGF medications. These drugs reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels that you have in your retinas. Some people with wet macular degeneration may also benefit from laser surgery. Whether you have dry or wet macular degeneration, it is important to talk to your eye doctor about what treatments might be the most appropriate for you.
The back of your eye is made up of the retina. Inside of your retina, there is a liquid that is called the aqueous humor. For optimal eye health, this liquid must maintain a good pressure. If the pressure builds up too much, it can cause damage to your optic nerve. Glaucoma is the name of the disease that involves optic nerve damage caused by too much pressure inside of your retina. It is often an inherited disease, and many people who have it don’t have any symptoms until it is advanced. Risk factors for glaucoma include the following:
- Being over 40
- Having a Hispanic or African heritage
- Having a family history of the disease
- Suffering an eye injury
- Having corneas with thin centers
- Having naturally high pressure in the eyes
- Suffering from diabetes
Glaucoma begins with a buildup of pressure inside of the retinas. Your eyes constantly make more aqueous humor. As you produce new aqueous humor, equal amounts should normally drain out. In people with glaucoma, an unequal amount is drained, leading to the pressure buildup that is characteristic of the disease.
Managing glaucoma can help people to preserve their vision for much longer. It is important for you to see your eye doctor regularly and to make certain that you use your eye drops exactly as prescribed. A healthy lifestyle may also help. You should engage in regular exercise and make nutritious, healthy choices. If you have diabetes, making certain that you keep your blood glucose levels under control is also important.
If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, your doctor may prescribe specialized eye drops, which either increase the drainage of the fluid from the retina or decrease its production. One of several laser surgery procedures may be performed to increase the drainage of the fluid or to eradicate fluid blockages. Finally, your doctor may recommend micro surgery on your eyes. The good news about glaucoma is that it can be effectively managed. While there is no cure, following your treatment recommendations and living a healthy lifestyle can help you to save your vision.
Cataracts are when your lens becomes cloudy, making your vision cloudy. If you have cataracts, you may have trouble driving, reading or seeing facial expressions clearly. Because they develop slowly, cataracts will not interfere with your vision at first. They do not go away on their own, however. Criteria that can increase the likelihood of developing cataracts include:
- Being over 40
- A history of eye injuries or surgeries
- Medical conditions like diabetes
- Long-term use of steroidal medications
- Family members who’ve had cataracts
If you have cataracts and have not had surgery, you can manage to live with them until you do. It is important that you make certain that your eyeglasses have the most accurate and current prescription. Use a magnifying glass when you read to make it more comfortable. Using brighter light bulbs in your home can also help. If possible, you should avoid driving at night. During the day, make certain that you wear good sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes. Adopting a healthy lifestyle may help you if you have cataracts. If you smoke, it’s recommended that you work towards quitting. Exercising regularly and making healthy eating choices can also slow their development.
When your prescription glasses are not working any longer, you will need to undergo cataract surgery. It is the only treatment option that is effective. When you have cataract surgery, the clouded lens will be removed and replaced with a clear, artificial lens.
If you have one of these common eye diseases, you can take steps to manage them so that you can keep your vision for longer. With treatment, you may be able to enjoy a much fuller and healthier life.