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What is glaucoma?

January 15, 2017

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye's optic nerve and gets worse over time. It's often linked to a buildup of pressure inside your eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life.

The increased pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to your brain. If the damage continues, glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years.

Most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain. You need to see your eye doctor regularly so she can diagnose and treat glaucoma before long-term visual loss happens.

If you’re over age 40 and have a family history of the disease, you should get a complete eye exam from an eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. If you have health problems like diabetes or a family history of glaucoma or are at risk for other eye diseases, you may need to go more often.

What are cataracts?

February 14, 2017

A cataract is a progressive, painless clouding of the natural, internal lens of the eye. Cataracts block light, making it difficult to see clearly. Over an extended period of time, cataracts can cause blindness. They're often related to growing older, but sometimes they can develop in younger people.

Eye twitches

March 15, 2017

No one knows what causes this, which your doctor might call blepharospasm. When it happens, your eyelid, usually the upper one, blinks and you can’t make it stop. Sometimes it affects both eyes. The lid moves every few seconds for a minute or two.

Doctors think it can be linked to:

Fatigue

Stress

Caffeine

Twitches are painless, harmless, and usually go away on their own. But if the spasms are strong enough they can cause your eyelids to completely shut and then reopen.

What if It Doesn’t Stop?

Some people have eye spasms all day long. They might go on for days, weeks, or even months. That can upset you and affect your quality of life.

It’s rare, but if your twitch doesn’t go away, it might make you wink or squint all the time. If you can’t keep your eyes open, it’s going to be hard for you to see.

Sometimes, the twitch can be a sign of a more serious conditions, like:

Blepharitis (inflamed eyelids)

Dry eyes

Light sensitivity

Pinkeye

Very rarely, it’s a sign of a brain or nerve disorder, such as:

Bell's palsy

Dystonia

Parkinson's disease

Tourette's syndrome

It can also be a side effect of certain medications. The most common include drugs that treat psychosis and epilepsy.

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An ongoing series of informational entries

What are eye freckles?

January 15, 2017

Maybe you’ve had a little spot on your eye since you were a kid. Or maybe you just found out you have an eye freckle during a checkup. A freckle in your eye might seem odd, but they’re actually common and usually harmless.

If you have one, your eye doctor may want to watch it over time. It’s rare, but they can turn into a type of cancer called melanoma. So whether they’re old or new, it’s always a good idea to get them checked out.

What Are They?

eye freckleThere are two types of eye freckles. One is technically known as a nevus. They’re similar to moles on your skin. “Nevus” means “mole.”

Some of these nevi (the plural of nevus) are easy to spot. But others are hidden in the back of your eye, where no one but your eye doctor will ever see them. They have different names depending on where they are:

Conjunctival nevus: On the surface of your eye

Iris nevus: In the colored part of your eye

Choroidal nevus: Under your retina (in back of your eye)

What is macular degeneration?

February 14, 2017

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is caused by deterioration of the retina and can severely impair vision. There is no cure for macular degeneration, but it can be treated with vitamins, laser therapy, medications, and vision aids.

What is Pinkeye?

March 15, 2017

Pinkeye -- also called conjunctivitis -- is redness and inflammation of the clear membranes covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids. Pinkeye is most often caused by a virus or by a bacterial infection, although allergies, chemical agents, and underlying diseases can also play a role.

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An ongoing series of informational entries

Farsightedness (Hyperopia)

January 15, 2017

Most people are born with mild farsightedness and outgrow it in childhood. When it persists, you may see distant objects well, but books, knitting, and other close objects are a blur. This problem runs in families. Symptoms include trouble with reading, blurry vision at night, eyestrain, and headaches. To treat it, you may wear glasses or contacts. Some people get surgery for it.

Nearsightedness (Myopia)

February 14, 2017

When you're nearsighted, things in the distance look blurry. Doctors call it myopia. You're more likely to have it if:

One or both of your parents have it

You do lots of close-up reading

Nearsightedness can make it harder to drive, play sports, or see a blackboard or TV. Symptoms include blurred vision, squinting, and fatigue. To correct it, you can wear glasses, contacts, or get surgery in some cases.

Color Blindness Test 

March 15, 2017

Which number do you see on the far left? If it's "3," you probably have normal color vision. If it's a "5," you may be color blind. The center panel shows a mild lack of color vision. Complete color blindness, which is rare, appears at right. No number is visible. Tinted glasses may help you see better.

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An ongoing series of informational entries

Stye

January 15, 2017

This painful red bump looks like a pimple on or near the edge of your eyelid. It’s a type of infection of the eyelids (the doctor will call it blepharitis). Styes usually heal in a week. You can speed things up by putting a a warm, wet compress on it 3 to 6 times a day. Don’t wear contacts or eye makeup until it heals.

Floaters and Specks

February 14, 2017

Do you see blurry spots or specks that move?They’re probably floaters -- debris in your eye's vitreous gel. They don't block vision and are easier to see in bright light. Floaters are common and usually harmless. See a doctor right away if:

They show up or multiply suddenly.

You also see flashes of light.

You see white or black spots all the time.

You notice a sudden shadow or loss of side vision.

Astigmatism

March 15, 2017

If you have astigmatism in one or both eyes, your vision may be out of focus at any distance. It happens when the cornea, the clear “window” that covers the front of the eye, isn’t shaped right. Light rays can’t focus on a single point on your retina. Instead they scatter to many places. Glasses or contact lenses correct it. Surgery may be an option. Symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, fatigue, and eye strain.

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