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10 Warning Signs & Symptoms of Eye Problems

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Common Eye Disorders

Keeping your eyes healthy can make a significant difference in your health and overall well-being. Staying aware of your ocular health and monitoring any changes through comprehensive eye exams can effectively reduce your chances of vision loss. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 21 million Americans have vision problems. Many eye problems are relatively benign, such as mild myopia (nearsightedness). However, problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration can steal your vision without proper intervention.

Symptoms of an Eye Problem

Monitoring your eye health can ensure your eyes are properly taken care of. If your optometrist notices signs of an eye problem, they can implement a treatment plan to preserve and protect your vision.

1. Red Eyes

Redness in the eye can be caused by many different conditions and injuries that can lead to irritation, swelling, and vision loss. Typically, the eyes’ small blood vessels will become inflamed, making the whites of the eyes seem pink or red.

Red eyes can be an indication that your eyes are irritated. It can also be a sign of a bigger problem or infection. If your eyes are red for an extended period, please visit your optometrist for an examination.

Common eye problems associated with red eyes include:

2. Night Blindness

If you’re having trouble seeing when it gets dark outside, you may have a night vision problem. Typically, your eyes can easily adjust between well-lit and dark places, but some eye problems can make it difficult to do so.

Troubles with night vision can be an indicator of:

3. Headache

Woman holding the bridge of her nose and medication in one hand due to a headache

A headache is referred to as pain in the head, neck, and face. Typically, a headache is indicative of emotional or physical distress, such as stress or high blood pressure. 

Headaches can affect different parts of the head, depending on the cause. A headache can feel like a dull ache, sharp pain, or throbbing in the temples. If over-the-counter medication doesn’t help your headache or the pain is persisting for a long time, you should consult your doctor.

A headache can also be associated with various eye problems, some of which are considered eye emergencies. Some eye conditions that a headache may indicate are:

4. Light Sensitivity

Light sensitivity is a condition that causes bright light to be uncomfortable, commonly referred to as photophobia. Mild photophobia makes you squint in a brightly lit room or while outside. More severe cases may cause significant pain when your eyes are exposed to any sort of light.

Light sensitivity is also a common symptom of several different eye conditions. Some conditions associated with light sensitivity include:

5. Floaters

Floaters are specks, dots, lines, or webs that appear in your field of vision. Although they seem to be in front of your eye, they are floating inside the vitreous. What you see are the shadows cast on the retina by small clumps of cells.

Typically, floaters are harmless in small amounts, and they will usually fade and go away over time. You will normally notice them when you’re looking at something plain, like a blank wall or the sky.

However, severe floaters can be indicative of a larger problem, such as:

6. Flashes

Flashes can appear as flashing lights or lightning streaks in your field of vision. Some patients report seeing flashes similar to “seeing stars” after being hit on the head.

Typically, flashes are a result of the vitreous rubbing or pulling on the retina and can happen as a result of ageing. However, flashes are common with certain eye conditions such as:

If you start to see flashes you haven’t seen before or have recently gotten eye surgery, it’s best to consult your optometrist.

7. Dry Eyes

Dry eye can cause your eyes to feel gritty, scratchy, and irritated. Dry eye is a chronic condition that is normally caused by your eyes not producing enough good quality tears for the eyes to stay lubricated.

However, dryness in the eyes can also be indicative of a bigger condition. Dry eye is a common symptom of:

8. Excessive Tearing

If your eyes are producing too many tears and are continually watering, you may be experiencing a variety of issues. Irritated eyes produce tears in an attempt to lubricate and soothe the eyes.

Typically, tearing may be associated with:

9. Blurred or Distorted Vision

Blurred or distorted vision is a common symptom of a variety of eye conditions. If you notice sudden, significant changes to your vision, you should visit your optometrist as soon as possible.

Common eye conditions that may cause blurred or distorted vision include:

10. Swelling

Swelling on or around the eye can be a result of trauma to the head, neck, or face. The tissues in the eye or eyelids can become irritated and inflamed, causing the typical swollen, discoloured appearance.

Swelling can indicate a serious eye problem. Common issues include:

If you’re experiencing changes in your ocular health or vision, it’s important to consult your optometrist as soon as possible. At EyeRx, we’re here to help preserve and protect your vision.

Written by Benjamin Teller

Dr. Teller earned his doctorate in optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1996 and has been helping local residents see clearly ever since. After graduation, Dr. Teller completed an internship with the Hopewell Valley Eye Associates, as well as several externships with the National Naval Medical Center and Katzen Eye Group.

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