Over 4.2 million Americans over the age of 40 are legally blind or have low vision. Almost two-thirds of adults in the United States suffer some degree of visual loss. While the eyes can be affected by hundreds of diseases and disorders, the bulk of visual issues can be linked to the following seven conditions:
Refractive errors called ametropia are optical defects in which light rays from optical infinity do not focus on the fovea inside the non-accommodating eye.
The primary ocular refractive components of the cornea and lens constitute a relatively thick lens refracting complex that acts as a functional syncytium. Refracted rays intended for the fovea are the result of cornea-lens interactions on an incoming beam of light. However, not all refracted light will reach the fovea; some will fall short, while others will exceed it.
Parallel rays of light collide in front of the fovea in myopic eyes that are not accommodating. When the eye is at rest, in a condition termed hypermetropia, refracted rays are focused beyond the retina.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in older adults in developed countries. Patients with AMD encounter various visual difficulties, which substantially impact their mental health and quality of life. AMD is a late-onset degeneration of the central retina’s photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium caused by various environmental and hereditary causes.
The pathogenesis and risk factors for AMD are complicated, and the symptoms appear in a variety of similar but unique ways. However, significant progress has been made in our knowledge of AMD pathogenesis over the last several decades, culminating in innovative treatment medicines in recent years.
AMD is classified clinically into two subtypes: dry (degenerative) and wet (neovascular). AMD that is dry is quite common. Around 80% (8 out of 10) of patients with AMD have the dry kind. The dry type develops as the macula thins and small clumps of a protein called drusen form. You gradually lose your core vision. There is currently no treatment to cure dry AMD.
While wet AMD is less frequent, it is significantly more dangerous. Wet AMD arises as a result of the formation of new, aberrant blood vessels behind the retina. These arteries may leak blood or other fluids, resulting in macula scarring. With wet AMD, visual loss occurs more rapidly than with dry AMD.
A cataract is an ocular lens clouding that impairs vision. The majority of cataracts are caused by aging. Cataracts are quite frequent among the elderly. By the time they reach the age of 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have undergone cataract surgery. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes. It can’t spread from one eye to the other.
The eye’s lens is mostly composed of water and protein. The protein is organized precisely so that the lens remains clear and allows light to pass through. However, part of the protein may clump together as we age and cause a tiny portion of the lens to become clouded. This is referred as to as a cataract. The cataract may get bigger and obscure more of the lens over time, impairing vision.
Diabetes patients are predisposed to diabetic retinopathy, a disorder caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina caused by high blood sugar levels. Initially, this permits fluid to flow into the eye. Later in life, swelling and scar tissue can cause the retina to detach, permanently impairing vision.
Regular eye health monitoring can assist in identifying warning signals and enabling you to make healthy decisions.
Diabetic retinopathy may initially present with no symptoms or just modest visual impairment. However, it can result in blindness. Anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is at risk of developing the illness. The longer you have diabetes and the less closely your blood sugar is regulated, your risk of developing this eye issue is greater.
Glaucoma is a condition that affects the optic nerve of the eye. It often occurs when fluid accumulates in the anterior portion of the eye. This additional fluid raises the pressure in your eye, causing damage to the optic nerve.
Your eye is continually making aqueous humor, the clear fluid filling the space in the front of the eyeball between the lens and the cornea. The same quantity of aqueous should drain out as fresh aqueous enters your eye. Drainage angle: The drainage angle is the region through which the fluid drains. This mechanism maintains a consistent intraocular pressure, or IOP, in the eye. However, if the drainage angle is not functioning properly, fluid accumulates. The pressure within the eye increases, causing damage to the optic nerve.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is when one eye has decreased vision due to aberrant visual development throughout childhood. The weaker or more slothful eye frequently wanders in or out. Amblyopia often occurs between birth and the age of seven years. It is the most common cause of eyesight loss in children. Occasionally, both eyes are affected by lazy eye. Early detection and treatment can help avoid long-term eye issues in your child.
Typically, the impaired eye can be repaired with glasses, contact lenses, or patching treatment. Lazy eye, if left untreated, can result in irreversible visual loss. Consult your child’s physician if you detect their eye wandering beyond the first few weeks of life.
Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)
Strabismus, or crossed eyes, is a disorder in which both eyes do not look in the same direction at the same time. It is more common in those with weak eye muscle control or who are extremely farsighted.
Each eye has six muscles that govern its movement. The brain sends impulses to the muscles that direct their movement. Normally, the eyes function together, pointing in the same direction. When eye movement control difficulties occur, an eye may turn in, out, up, or down.
The eye turning may constantly occur or only when the individual is tired, unwell, or has performed a great deal of reading or close work. Occasionally, the same eye may flip each time. In some instances, the eyes may turn alternately.
Proper eye alignment is critical to avoid double vision, achieve accurate depth perception, and avoid impaired vision in the rotated eye. The brain perceives two distinct pictures when the eyes are misaligned. This may initially result in double vision and disorientation. However, the brain will eventually learn to disregard the image from the turned eye. Eye turning, if left untreated, can result in persistent amblyopia.
Contact Arizona Retinal Specialists
If you’re experiencing any eye trouble, consult Arizona Retinal Specialists right away. We specialize in eye care and provide expert diagnosis, treatment, and advice. Schedule an appointment today! Call 623 – 474 – 3937 (EYES) or go to our contact page.