Eye Diseases & Conditions

Published: May 28, 2014

As you get older, there’s a higher risk for you to develop eye diseases and conditions.

Here’s a list of some eye diseases and conditions:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Is quite common in people over 60 years of age. AMD can damage the macula which is needed for sharp vision. Affects more than 2 million Americans age 50 and older.

Cataract

Is a clouding over the eyes lens which causes loss of vision. Nearly 22 million Americans age 40 plus have cataracts.  By age 80, more than half of all Americans will have a cataract.

Diabetic eye disease

There are many eye problems associated with diabetes.  The leading cause of vision loss and blindness is “diabetic retinopathy”. Affects 4.4 million Americans Age 40 and older.

Glaucoma

It is a disease that can damage the optic nerve in the eye.  It can develop in one or both eyes. It affects 2.3 million Americans age 40 and older.

Low vision

Can interfere with our ability to perform everyday activities if not corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery.

Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye disease affects millions of Americans – making it one of the most common reasons for visits to eye care professionals.

Contrary to popular belief, dry eye is not simply a problem of a reduced amount or lack of tears. The main functions of tears are to lubricate the eyes and protect them from bacteria and environmental irritants such as dust. This requires both the right amount of tears and a balance of the many components that make up tears. Without the right quantity or quality of tears, dry eye disease may develop.

If left untreated, severe forms of dry eye can result in impaired vision or damage to the eye’s surface.

The Menopause Connection

Many women recognize hot flashes and night sweats as symptoms of menopause, but don’t realize that there’s another common symptom they might not be aware of – dry eyes.

Dry eye during menopause is partially caused by declining estrogen levels that often result in less fluid production in many parts of the body including the eyes, vagina, mouth and nose. In fact, a menopausal woman’s amount of tears can decrease by as much as 60 percent, as compared to the amount produced at age 18.

A Closer Look at Dry Eye

Dry eye begins when the surface of the eye becomes irritated (partially caused by a decrease in fluid production in the eyes due to hormonal changes caused by menopause, etc.). This eventually results in “abnormal” tears – either not enough tears and/or tears that are not the right quality to protect and lubricate the eye. Dry eye can also be caused or aggravated by a number of external factors such as sun, wind, computer use, heating and air conditioning.

Eye Allergies

What’s Making You Tear and Itch?

Eye allergies can also play a large role in the occurrence of eye irritation. More than 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers from allergies, and 90 percent of these patients suffer from eye allergy symptoms. Eye allergies can affect concentration and cause blurred vision, making everyday tasks such as reading, writing or even driving difficult.

A Closer Look at Eye Allergies

An eye allergy is an allergic response (or increased sensitivity) to allergens in your environment that cause symptoms such as itchy, swollen eyes. These allergens may be seasonal (for example, pollen from trees, flowers, and grasses), or they may be found in common substances (e.g., pet dander, cosmetics, mold, and pollution) to which many people react year-round. The medical name for an eye allergic reaction is allergic conjunctivitis.

Allergies Can Come or Go Suddenly
Allergies can stop or start at any point of your life.

Symptoms of Dry Eye and Eye Allergies

Make a List of Your Symptoms to Take to Your Eye Care Professional

Environmental factors play a significant role in both dry eye and eye allergies.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

  • Dryness
  • Burning/Stinging
  • Dryness
  • Burning/Stinging
  • Excessive mucus secretion
  • Feeling something in eye
  • Scratchiness/Grittiness
  • Redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Dryness in eyes make wearing contact lenses difficult or impossible
Symptoms of Eye Allergies

  • Itchy nose/Sneezing/Sniffing
  • Irritation/Redness
  • Tearing
  • Mucus secretion
  • Feeling of something in the eye
  • Mild swelling of the eyelids
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Eyes become swollen, itchy and begin to burn after exposure to an allergen

Prevention and Treatment Options for Dry Eyes

  • Use an artificial eye drop to relieve the symptoms of dry eye disease. They differ from redness relieving eye drops which only provide a cosmetic benefit – removing the redness. Prolonged use of redness relieving eye drops can ultimately reduce effectiveness, and the FDA requires labels on many of these products to warn consumers that, “overuse of this product may produce increased redness of the eye,” a condition also known as “rebound redness.”
  • If you wear contact lenses, change to glasses when you’re at home
  • When outside, wear wrap-around sunglasses to prevent the wind from blowing against your eyes and drying out the surface of your eyes
  • Run a humidifier in any room where you spend a lot of time
  • Avoid exposure to allergens
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes
  • Be aware that some allergy medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants, as well as other medications, such as diuretics, HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and blood pressure medications, may contribute to dry eye symptoms. Talk to your eye care professional if you regularly take one of the above listed types of medications.

Prevention and Treatment Options for Eye Allergies

  • Wash your hands, face, and hair frequently to rid them of allergens
  • Use air filters indoors and vacuum regularly
  • Avoid outdoor environments when the pollen count is high
  • Close windows and doors to keep allergens out.

Get Your Eyes Examined

Everyone past age 50 should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam.  Your eye care care professional can tell you how frequently you need to have one.

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