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About Eye Disorders

Amblyopia is also referred to as “lazy eye.” It occurs when one eye develops poor vision because is not being used properly. It can be caused by strabismus (an eye turn, see below) or a large difference in the glasses prescription between the two eyes. In amblyopia, the vision portion of the brain is not receiving proper signals from the “bad” eye. Wearing glasses full time can improve vision over time, but results are different in every case. Sometimes patching is recommended when vision is not improving to the desired level by using eyeglasses alone. Kids who see well out of one eye do not usually complain. The InfantSee program was developed in part to decrease the prevalence of amblyopia. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome.

Astigmatism is a disorder which causes light to be focused at two different points, either in front of the retina, behind the retina, or one of each. It is what is called a “refractive error” like nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Cataracts occur when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy, making it more difficult to see. They most often occur due to age, but can also be caused by certain medications, trauma, or genetics. Some people are born with cataracts (congenital cataracts), which can be detected in an InfantSee exam.
Conjunctivitis is an irritation or infection of the thin layer of skin covering the whites of the eyes and is commonly referred to as “pink eye.” There are several different types. The one people often refer to is bacterial conjunctivitis. This can cause your eyes to be red and is often accompanied by a mucous discharge. The bacterial variety is treated with eye drops. Conjunctivitis can also be viral, which cannot be treated with antibiotics. The discharge is often more watery. Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious. Allergic conjunctivitis is often seasonal. They eyes will be red (like “pink eye”), but it is not contagious. Allergies cause the eyes to itch, and sometimes the whites of the eyes may even swell. It can be treated with eye drops.

Diabetic Retinopathy can occur with fluctuations in glucose levels in a diabetic. Poorly controlled glucose can cause the blood vessels in the retinal to leak. The leaking can lead to the growth of new, unstable blood vessels, which can eventually cause blindness. See our Diabetic Examinations section.

Dry Eye can be associated with many symptoms, including watering, dryness, intermittent blurred vision, or foreign body sensation (the feeling that something was in the eye). It is often initially treated by the use of artificial tears, but other products are available for treatment if the initial treatment does not work. Many factors contribute to dryness such as medications, hormones, skin disorders (such as rosacea), and environment to name a few.

Glaucoma is a disease which damages the optic nerve, which is the cable leading from the eye to the brain. It is often caused by an intraocular pressure that is too high for your eye. The pressure which will damage the nerve is variable. Some people with “normal” pressures can develop the disease, which others with “high” pressures will never develop glaucoma. See our Glaucoma Care section.

Hyperopia is a “refractive error” which causes your eye to focus light behind the retina. It is commonly referred to as “farsightedness.” In order to see clearly, the lens can focus the image onto the retina, which can cause eyestrain or headaches. As you age, your ability to focus to keep things clear diminishes, which can cause objects at near to be blurry. Farsighted children can often see pretty well, but may get frequent headaches.

Macular Degeneration is a disorder where the macula (the part of the eye which has the best vision) begins to deteriorate. It starts with mildly blurry vision and can progress to blindness. Dry macular degeneration is the less severe type. It can progress to wet macular degeneration in which new blood vessels form in the macula, destroying vision. Vitamins and nutrients have been shown to slow the progression of the disease. Ultraviolet light and smoking can speed progression of the disease.

Myopia is a refractive error which causes your eye to focus light in front of the retina. It is commonly referred to as “nearsightedness.” Glasses or contacts are required to see clearly. Myopia tends to run in families and tends to worsen as a child grows.

Presbyopia occurs when the lens inside the eye can no longer focus well to see objects clearly at near. This usually occurs in the early 40’s, but may occur sooner or later, depending on the individual. Reading glasses, bifocals, or contacts are required to see clearly.

Strabismus is when one of the eyes (or both of the eyes) turns in or out. Sometimes it is caused by farsightedness. When the eyes try to focus to make things clear, one will turn in toward the nose. This is called “esotropia” and can often be corrected by wearing glasses. If the eye turns out, it is called “exotropia.” It can sometimes be corrected with vision training or glasses. Both types of strabismus keep a person from using the eyes together as a team. If glasses do not improve the strabismus, surgery is required.