It’s essential to get regular eye exams, even if you don’t think you have any problems with your vision. Some common eye issues that people often ignore can lead to more serious problems down the road if left untreated. According to the American Optometric Association, around 61 million Americans have some form of vision impairment, many of which could be corrected or improved with regular eye exams and treatment.
Learn about some of the most common eye issues that people ignore below.
1. Dry eyes
This is a very common problem, especially for people who spend much time staring at computer screens. It could be a sign of dry eye syndrome if your eyes feel dry, irritated, or like they’re tearing up more than usual. This occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, or the tears you do produce are of poor quality. Dry eyes can be very uncomfortable, leading to more serious issues such as corneal ulcers if left untreated.
Dry eyes can also be a symptom of meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). In this condition, the glands that produce oil for your tears are blocked or don’t work correctly. MGD can lead to inflammation, scarring, and even vision loss. You can explore MGD treatment options with your eye doctor.
2. Flashes and floaters
Flashes are brief bursts of light in your field of vision. They can be caused by changes in the pressure in your eye, migraines, or retinal detachment. Floaters are tiny spots or strings that you see in your vision. They’re usually harmless and caused by bits of debris in the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills the inside of your eye.
While flashes and floaters are generally nothing to worry about, if you suddenly see more floaters than before or experience persistent flashes, it could be a sign of retinal detachment. This is a severe condition that requires immediate medical attention. You should see your eye doctor immediately if you experience sudden changes in your vision.
3. Blurry vision
Many people experience occasional blurry vision, especially when they’re tired. If this is the only time you have blurred vision, it’s probably nothing to worry about. But if you experience blurry vision more often, it could signify a more serious problem. Blurry vision can be caused by several things, including refractive errors, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.
Refractive errors are the most common cause of blurry vision and can be easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Cataracts and glaucoma usually develop slowly, so you might not notice any symptoms until the condition has progressed. Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication of diabetes that can lead to vision loss. If you have diabetes, you must get regular eye exams to check for this condition.
4. Eye pain
When you have pain in or around your eye, it can be a sign of several different conditions. If the pain is accompanied by redness, swelling, and discharge, it could be conjunctivitis (pink eye). This is a very contagious condition caused by bacteria or viruses. Other causes of eye pain include corneal abrasions, iritis, and glaucoma.
Corneal abrasions are scratches on the surface of your eye. They can be caused by debris, contact lenses, or even fingernails. Iritis is inflammation of the iris, the colored part of your eye. It can be caused by an infection, injury, or autoimmune disease. A glaucoma is a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve. It’s usually caused by high pressure in the eye.
If you’re experiencing any pain in or around your eye, you should see your eye doctor to find out the cause.
5. Difficulty seeing at night
If you start to have difficulty seeing while driving at night, it could be a sign of cataracts. Cataracts are a common condition that causes the lens of your eye to become cloudy. They usually develop slowly and can be easily treated with surgery.
While cataracts are the most likely cause of night vision problems, other conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can also cause difficulty seeing at night. These conditions can be more serious, so you must see your eye doctor if you’re having any trouble seeing while driving.
6. Red eyes
Red eyes can be caused by several things, including allergies, infections, and inflammation. If your eyes are itchy and watery, you might have allergies. Allergic conjunctivitis is a common condition that you can treat with over-the-counter antihistamines.
Infections, such as pink eye, can also cause red eyes. Viral conjunctivitis is the most common type of pink eye and usually clears up on its own within a few days. Bacterial conjunctivitis is more severe and requires antibiotics to clear the infection. Ask your eye doctor which type of conjunctivitis you have so you can be treated properly.
If you’re experiencing any changes in your vision, you must see your eye doctor. You can quickly treat some eye problems, but others can lead to vision loss if they’re not treated early. Please don’t ignore any changes in your vision, no matter how small they may seem. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your eyesight.