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Common Eye Problems

Common Eye Problems: Causes and Symptoms

Do you suffer from eye pain, excessive tearing, redness in your eyes, or have problems with your vision?

Knowing your symptoms is important as it can help you and your eye doctor fi nd out if there is a problem. An eye examination can determine what is wrong so that your doctor can recommend the best treatment option for you.

Here are some common eye symptoms and their possible causes.

Is your vision blurry or distorted?

Long-term blurry or distorted vision can be due to a number of causes.

Most commonly, blurry vision, in particular the inability to clearly see objects that are either far away or up close, is a sign of a simple refractive error like short-sightedness (myopia), longsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism or presbyopia (lao hua). These conditions can be readily managed with vision correction aids such as spectacles, contact lenses or refractive surgery such as LASIK.

Progressive clouding of vision, when you see objects through a mist, can be a sign of cataracts. This condition, which commonly affects the elderly, is due to the thickening and clouding of the lens within the eye. It is reversible with surgery.

Poor vision can also be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, stroke and hypertension. Certain medications such as chloroquine, or hydroxychloroquine for rheumatoid arthritis or other soft tissue diseases may also cause vision blurring.

A more serious cause of blurry or distorted vision is age-related macular degeneration, which often aff ects the central vision. In agerelated macular degeneration, objects in the centre of the field of view are distorted but the peripheral vision remains clear. This condition is often irreversible and can cause blindness if left untreated, so early diagnosis is important.

If you are suffering from cloudy vision, do see your eye doctor for early diagnosis and treatment.

Are you losing your peripheral vision?

If you are bumping into things or people beside you, or have difficulty seeing overtaking vehicles while

driving, you may be losing your peripheral or ‘side’ vision.

A common cause of loss of peripheral or ‘side’ vision is glaucoma, a condition where the eye pressure is usually too high for the eye. Glaucoma may cause an insidious loss of side vision, resulting in late diagnosis and advanced visual loss. Therefore, screening for glaucoma is advisable, especially for those who have a family history of glaucoma, or who are on steroid medications.

Are your eyes itchy or watery?

If you are suffering from prolonged itchiness and watering of the eyes, you could have an allergy to pollen, pet hair, or other allergenic substances in your environment. The condition can be uncomfortable, but does not usually result in significant vision loss even though your eye may feel irritated and tired.

Dry eyes can also be another cause of itching and tearing. Your eye doctor can determine the cause of your eye discomfort and advise treatment.

Do you suffer from eye pain?

Sharp pain in the eye may be caused by foreign bodies, cornea abrasion (break in the surface of the cornea) or even severe dry eye. Severe, dull pain, however, may indicate an acute attack of glaucoma; this is usually associated with vision loss and eye redness. Consult your doctor for an early diagnosis.

Do you see floaters in your field of vision?

Floaters are dark, distinct spots that you may see in your field of vision. Floaters occur when the vitreous (the jelly-like content inside the eye) degenerates due to ageing or myopia. These vitreous debris cast shadows onto the field of vision that are seen as fl oaters.

Floaters can be an indication of vitreous degeneration, or a more serious problem like diabetic retinopathy, a condition that causes blood vessels in the retina to weaken and burst. The resulting blood that seeps into the eye forms floaters.

Floaters can also be caused by retinal tears or detachment, a serious condition when the retina of the eye detaches from the rest of the layers of the eye. If you see floaters, see your eye doctor for early diagnosis and treatment.

Are you seeing flashes?

Flashes appear as arcs of light across the fi eld of vision. Sometimes it may occur as flashes of light. Like floaters, fl ashes are eye symptoms that are commonly associated with vitreous detachment or more seriously, with retinal detachment. If you see flashes, see your eye doctor for early diagnosis and treatment.