How Vision Works Eye Problems

According to a report by a leading eye health and vision safety organization, adults spend more than $51 billion each year to correct or treat their vision problems. This hefty price tag includes not only glasses and contacts but also eye exams and surgical procedures.

However, when it comes to treating eye problems, early detection of impairments not only opens up your treatment options but also prevents your condition from worsening, a factor that depletes your health and your pocketbook. As a result, getting regular eye exams and learning how eye problems arise is key to maintaining your eye health.

Types of Vision Problems

While your vision can suffer due to a number of eye problems, the main ways in which things can go wrong with vision include:

  • accidents involving the eyes
  • age-related vision disorders/diseases
  • other eye problems (such as extended exposure to situations or products that damage the eye and hereditary factors).

How Things Go Wrong with Vision: Accidents

An estimated 2.5 million eye injuries occur each year in the United States. Of these injuries, about 1 million injured suffer from some degree of vision loss. Accidents causing eye injuries most often occur (ranked by frequency of occurrences):

  • at home
  • in the workplace
  • during sporting events.

These accidents can inflict:

  • burns
  • contusions or bruised eyes
  • foreign objects in eyes
  • open wounds.

While some of these injuries occur during intense activity, such as sanding a floor or dealing with fire, other accident-related injuries can arise from the most mundane of activities, such as cooking or hanging a picture. As a result, if you are involved in a potentially dangerous or injury-prone activity, remember to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.

How Things Go Wrong with Vision: Age-Related Eye Disorders

Approximately three percent to four percent of Americans over the age of 40 are diagnosed with low vision or blindness. The three main age-related eye conditions include:

  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): This condition is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over the age of 65. Unfortunately, the exact cause of AMD has not yet been found. While there are various treatments for AMD, they are most effective if the eye disease is caught early.
  • Cataracts: Although they may arise from a variety of risk factors, cataracts, clouding of the eye’s lens, generally form due to the use of eyes over time.
  • Glaucoma: This condition is generally regarded to be the leading cause of blindness in the world. Because chronic glaucoma displays very little warning signs, about half of the Americans with glaucoma are not yet aware they suffer from it. Unless it is caught in an eye exam, glaucoma is usually not noticed until permanent vision damage has occurred.
  • Presbyopia: While not an eye disease, presbyopia is another vision problem associated with aging. Sometimes referred to as age-related farsightedness, presbyopia is actually a hardening of the eye’s natural lens. As the lens loses its flexibility, a person’s vision begins to replicate that of someone who is farsighted (unable to clearly see close objects). Unlike the age-related eye diseases listed above, presbyopia can be treated with corrective eyewear.

How Things Go Wrong with Vision: Other Problems with Eyes

In addition to the problems listed above, several other things that can go wrong with vision. Although not all of these eye problems lead to blindness, they are inconvenient, at best, and can cause some degree of vision loss, at worst. Some vision problems include:

  • Astigmatism: This refractive error causes blurred vision due to a misshaped cornea and lens. It can be corrected with eyeglasses or certain contact lenses.
  • CMV Retinitis: Caused by a virus that about 80 percent of people are exposed to, this retina-related vision problem tends to only affect people with a weakened immune system.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Fluctuating blood sugar levels cause this swelling of the eye’s blood vessels. Treatment of diabetic retinopathy can slow its progression but most likely will not reverse existing vision loss.
  • Farsightedness: Technically referred to as hyperopia, this refractive error causes the affected to see distant objects more clearly than close objects.
  • Keratoconus: This eye disease results from the bulging of a cornea, which causes vision problems. While glasses or contacts can correct keratoconus, more severe cases may call for more extreme treatment options.
  • Lazy Eye: Technically called amblyopia, this vision disorder tends to affect children and can cause a permanent dysfunction if not treated early.
  • Nearsightedness: The opposite of farsightedness, nearsightedness, or myopia, causes distant objects to appear blurry.
  • Ocular Herpes: This viral infection of the eyes can sometimes cause serious loss of vision.
  • Pterygium: This growth on the eye impairs vision.

Ways to Properly Care for Your Eyes

Although not all vision disorders and eye-related problems can be avoided, there are steps that you can take to properly care for your eyes. Some ways to protect your eyes and minimize the effects of vision disorders, eye diseases and accidents include:

  • Eating the proper diet: Partaking in a healthy diet and vitamin regimen, including consuming antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E, strengthens your eyes and prevents certain vision problems, such as AMD.
  • Getting eye exams: Getting regular eye exams (at least once every two years) can help catch any vision problems in the early stages, when they have a better chance of being treated.
  • Wearing safety goggles: Utilizing protective eyewear while performing tasks that may damage your eyes (i.e., home repairs, riding a motorcycle, etc.) can safeguard your eyes from debris that can scratch or lodge itself in the eye.
  • Wearing sunglasses: Wearing sunglasses with a UV filter can protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays.

By following these simple guidelines, you can greatly reduce your chances of damaging your vision.