Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that causes blurring of the central vision as the macula, a specialized area of the retina, becomes damaged. To learn more abouut macular degeneration, click here.
2.5 million Canadians have cataracts, a clouding of the normally clear lens inside the eye. As a cataract develops, vision may become blurry or dim as light is blocked from properly reaching the retina. To better understand how cataracts affect your vision, click here.
Computer Vision Syndrome
If your vision clears with blinks, could you have dry eye? For many people, dry eyes is a multifactorial disease. It can occur either if you don’t produce enough tears, or if you produce poor-quality tears. It is a condition with a wide range of symptoms from blurriness, foreign body sensation, tearing to photosensitivity. In order to effectively treat dryness the underlying cause must be determined by your eye doctor.
Did you know diabetes is the single largest cause of blindness in Canada? Diabetic patients are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and are twice as likely to develop glaucoma. The main threat to vision, however, is diabetic retinopathy. It is estimated that approximately 2 million people in Canada have some form of the condition. We recommend a patient with diabetes be seen at least once a year for a comprehensive ocular health assessment. Learn more about diabetic retinopathy and see an example of how it affects your sight here.
Did you know that contact lenses have more than cosmetic appeal? Although they are most commonly used by people as an alternative to glasses, in many cases they are the only treatment option that may give patients sufficient vision. There are soft contact lenses that can treat astigmatism and even presbyopia (age related blurring of near vision). Rigid contacts lenses are less commonly used but are still the best option for many people. Both lens types are considered medical devices. A contact lens prescription is different from an eyeglasses prescription, and needs to be properly fit by your doctor of optometry.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a visual condition in which near objects are seen clearly, but distant objects are out of focus. It occurs when light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina rather than right on the retina. It can lead to symptoms of squinting, eyestrain, headaches, and feeling fatigued when looking at distant objects. It occurs in 30% of the population, usually begins in childhood and typically progresses as the child grows. Eyeglasses or contact lenses can be prescribed to correct the way the image enters the eye, leading to clearer distance vision.
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a common vision problem that occurs when light entering the eye focuses behind the retina rather than directly on it. It typically causes difficulty focusing on things that are up close, but can also affect your distance vision. Someone who is hyperopic must exert extra effort to see things clearly – which can cause fatigue, headaches, eyestrain, and tension. In mild cases, your eyes may be able to compensate for it without any symptoms, but in more severe cases eyeglasses are required to help relieve these symptoms.
Astigmatism is often mistaken for an eye disease but it is actually a problem with how the eye focuses light. Instead of light focusing at one point in the eye it focuses at 2 different points. This is due to the eye being more “football-shaped” instead of being spherical (like a soccer ball). It typically causes vision to be blurred or distorted at all distances and can cause eyestrain, headaches, and squinting especially after prolonged visual tasks. Just like myopia or hyperopia, astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Why do I suddenly need glasses to read when I’ve gone all my life with perfect vision?
This is due to a vision condition called presbyopia which typically begins after the age of 40. Everyone develops this condition, and there is unfortunately no way to avoid it. When it first starts to develop, you may start to notice that you need to hold books and other reading materials further away from your eyes to see it clearly. This is a normal, age related process where the lens inside the eye starts to stiffen and thicken, reducing its ability to focus. It can be corrected using different options, depending on your visual needs. Some people simply need over-the-counter reading glasses, but others require prescription glasses such as progressive lenses, office-style lenses, or prescription reading glasses. Contact lenses may also be an option.
Amblyopia, commonly known as a lazy eye, is thought to occur in people with crossed eyes; however, there are many reasons why someone may develop amblyopia. It can be caused by misalignment of the eyes, unequal focusing powers of the eyes, or when something is obstruction the vision to the eye like a congenital cataract. It develops during early childhood when the vision problem prevents one or both eyes from seeing clearly. If the problem is left untreated the visual system doesn’t properly develop, leading to a severe disability in that eye.
Amblyopia can be avoided or minimized with early detection and treatment. This may involve glasses, contact lenses, surgery or vision therapy. If detected before the age of 6 there is a good chance of fully correcting the amblyopia, but once the visual system has fully developed there is little or no chance of any improvement. A child with amblyopia may not experience any symptoms, and the parents of the child may not notice anything wrong either. This is why a full optometric examination is recommended at six months of age, age 3 and annually thereafter.
Glaucoma is a disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve (which is responsible for carrying information from the eye to the brain). It usually has no symproms which is why it is also known as the “silent thief of sight”.
If it goes undetected or uncontrolled it can lead to severe vision loss and may cause blindness. In most cases it is associated with higher than normal pressure inside the eye, but can also occur then the pressure is normal. The nerve fibers of the optic nerve become damaged due to the increased pressure, which in turn causes peripheral vision loss.
If detected early, effective treatment with laser or eye drops can stabilize the condition and prevent further deterioration of vision. Unfortunately, glaucoma is painless and patients normally experience no symptoms until the disease is advanced; many people can have glaucoma without even realizing it. Glaucoma screening is a part of a comprehensive eye examination and is the only way to detect glaucoma. This is just one of the reasons a regular eye exam with a Doctor of Optometry is so important, even if you have 20/20 vision.