Taking care of your eyes also means not neglecting certain warning signs. Here is an overview of symptoms to be taken seriously.
EYES: A PRECIOUS GIFT
We know instinctively just how important our eyes are. In addition to their usual functions, they express emotion and allow us to capture all the wonders of the world. However, we come to realize just how necessary they really are when our sight is compromised.
When vision problems occur, a person’s autonomy, quality of life and complete functioning are affected. We sometimes forget to take care of our eyes. The purpose of this text is to provide information on the most common eye diseases, since early detection and treatment can prevent serious problems.
WHAT IS MACULAR DEGENERATION?
In Canada, macular degeneration linked to aging is the main cause of vision loss in the elderly. The retina captures images and transmits them to the brain. The macula, the central part of the retina, ensures precision vision, which allows us to perform detailed tasks. When the macula is damaged, precision vision diminishes or may even disappear. However, peripheral vision is not affected so that, in general, the disease does not lead to total loss of eyesight.
We know that macular degeneration occurs especially in people of 50 years and older. At present, its causes are not well known. Caucasians whose close family have the disease, or those who are smokers, have a higher risk of developing it.
The first symptoms of macular degeneration are a decrease of vision while reading, writing, or driving. Colour perception can also be altered.
WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?
Glaucoma is characterized by lesions to the optical nerve. It is often due to high pressure within the eye, but sometimes occurs when pressure within the eye is normal.
Despite the fact that the causes of glaucoma remain unknown, certain factors increase the risk of developing the disease. Age, having a family member who has the disease, myopia, being of African or Hispanic descent, and high pressure within the eye, may contribute to the illness.
There are many types of glaucoma. The most common type of glaucoma is generally painless and shows no immediate symptoms. Without treatment, there will eventually be loss of visual field. The visual field is everything that the eye can see on either side, below and above, while looking straight ahead. Your vision then becomes similar to looking through a tunnel.
WHAT IS A CATARACT?
When the crystalline becomes cloudy or opaque, altering eyesight from near or far, this is called a cataract. The crystalline is located in the front part of the eye. It directs light towards the retina which is at the back, in order to create the images that we see. A cataract may affect only part of the crystalline or its entirety.
In most cases, a cataract is the result of aging. Other factors can also be the cause of the disease such as diabetes, an eye injury, or certain medications.
In general, a cataract is caused by aging and progresses slowly. We can usually observe a progressive decrease of vision despite having changed an eyeglass prescription. In the presence of bright light, glare and double vision have also been noted.
WHAT IS DIABETIC RETINOPATHY?
Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the blood vessels in the retina, located at the back of the eye. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) is the cause of this damage in diabetics. It is the main cause of blindness in North America and one of the frequent complications of diabetes.
All patients suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk. This is why it is important that diabetes sufferers have their vision checked each year.
Symptoms appear progressively as the disease evolves. Among others, they may include blurred, distorted or double vision, dark spots, specks that move in the visual field, or changing vision.
WHEN TO CONSULT AN EYE CARE SPECIALIST OR DOCTOR?
- If you have blurred vision, if you need more light than usual when reading, doing crafts or other tasks.
- If you have distorted or double vision.
- If you see dark spots, circles, lines or cobwebs that move in your visual field.
- If you see a glare or halos around lights.
- If you have any other unusual symptoms.
Remember to see an eye care specialist regularly, even if you do not have any particular symptoms.
Consult an eye care specialist, doctor or pharmacist for additional information about eye diseases.