When you receive a routine eye exam, oftentimes you’ll find your eye health is great and there are no problems. However, occasionally eye diseases are detected in the early stages by your eye doctor. With early detection comes the option to receive proper treatment and avoid complications. That’s why it’s so important to have yearly exams, even when your vision seems fine.
Here are 4 of the most common eye diseases found during eye exams (and how to treat them).
1) Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation or infection of the protective membrane covering the inner eyelid and the surface of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis can be caused by several microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, and allergens such dust and smoke. This condition may be contagious and is marked by redness and/or increased discharge from the eye.
Minor cases may improve on their own within a couple of weeks. However, without treatment, some can develop into a severe infection of the cornea and cause permanent vision damage.
Many cases of conjunctivitis can be treated at home with warm compresses and artificial tears. More severe cases require antibiotic eyedrops or other medications.
2) Diabetic eye disease
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes commonly experience various eye problems such as cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. These diseases often have no symptoms early on. Because of this, it’s so important to have regular eye exams, especially if you have diabetes!
Treatment will depend on the condition, but in diabetic eye disease, early detection makes a big difference.
Glaucoma is a common and serious eye disease that does not have any symptoms early on. As the disease advances, it can lead to irreversible vision loss if left untreated.
Glaucoma is caused by increased intraocular pressure that damages the optic nerve. Over time, this damage causes a decrease in peripheral vision before leading to permanent blindness.
Unfortunately, glaucoma does not have a cure. Although management with surgery and medication can help prevent damage and vision loss, early detection is key.
4) Macular degeneration
Commonly associated with aging, macular degeneration is a progressive disorder that leads to deterioration of the macula. Ultimately, this damages central vision. Sufferers will notice vision disturbances, such as a small dark spot in the center of their field of vision.
Experts continue to work towards a cure. However, at this time, there is no way to reverse damage caused by macular degeneration. Fortunately, in most cases, there are ways to slow or halt the progression of this disease. Commonly recommended preventative measures including protection from sunlight, eye vitamins with lutein and zeaxanthin, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco use.
If you have any problems related to your eye health, early detection is essential to protecting your vision. As a result, I highly recommend yearly eye exams as a safe and preventative measure.
Author bio: Dr. Elise Kramer is a residency-trained optometrist in Miami FL who specializes in ocular health and disease, ocular surface disease and regular and specialty contact lens fitting. Over the last few years Drs. Elise Kramer has created a unique scleral lens practice. “My practice has been devoted to the restoring quality vision and ocular comfort to those patients who have been affected by keratoconus, refractive surgical complications, corneal transplant surgery and many others.”