The Five Most Common Eye Problems in Adults

Eye Problems in Adults

Cataracts, Glaucoma, Diabetic retinopathy, Retinal detachment, Blindness
Cataracts, Glaucoma, Diabetic retinopathy, Retinal detachment, Blindness | Source

The Human Retina

The Human Retina
The Human Retina | Source

Age Related Eye Problems

Unfortunately, vision problems are not uncommon in aging adults. Symptoms can vary in severity. The symptoms of vision impairment are usually subtle and many patients are surprised to see how much vision has been lost at the time of diagnosis. An optometrist or ophthalmologist is trained in providing a thorough evaluation. Although optometrists specialize in refraction, they are trained in analyzing the telltale signs of common eye problems. If symptoms are evident, an optometrist will usually refer their patients to a specialist for a formal diagnosis and treatment.

The five most common eye problems in adults are:

  • Cataract

  • Glaucoma

  • Diabetic retinopathy

  • Retinal detachment

  • Blindness

Cross-sectional view of the human eye
Cross-sectional view of the human eye | Source
view without cataracts
view without cataracts
view with cataracts
view with cataracts | Source

What are Cataracts? Symptoms and Surgery

What are cataracts? Cataracts are a result of the clouding of the lens in the eye. Cataracts are common in the aging. Cataracts are not contagious and cannot spread from one eye to another. A cataract can begin in one eye before the other and does not necessarily evolve simultaneously.

Are cataracts common? Cataract surgery is quite common and most cataract patients have had a lens replacement by the age of eighty.

Lens replacement is referred to as an intra-ocular lens replacement, or IOL. Cataract surgery is the removal of the old lens. A new clear and transparent lens is inserted in its place.

The lens: The lens is behind the iris. Light passes through the pupil, goes past the lens and refracts against the retina. The retina then sends the images through nerve endings to the brain. If the lens is not clear the result will be a cloudy image. Also, aside from clarity the lens adjusts focus for the various distances we see.

Understanding the symptoms of cataracts: cloudy vision The lens is made up of mostly water but also has protein. As we age it is not uncommon for the protein to build up, thus causing cloudy vision.

Types of Cataracts: Generally, cataracts are a result of aging, however, there are other types of cataracts.

  • Congenital Cataracts
  • Secondary Cataracts
  • Traumatic Cataracts
  • Radiation Cataracts

Describes glaucoma, the risks and treatment

What is Glaucoma? Facts and Symptoms

What is glaucoma? Glaucoma is an increased intraocular pressure, pressure within the eye. This pressure can cause irreversible nerve damage to the retina and optic nerve. This damage causes vision loss and can potentially lead to blindness.

What causes eye pressure? The aqueous humor is a fluid in the eye. The aqueous humor is made behind the iris and travels through channels in the front of the eye to the anterior chamber. If this flow is slowed or blocked it will result in increased intraocular pressure.

Facts about Glaucoma

  • Second leading cause of blindness
  • There is no cure
  • Glaucoma is more common in African Americans and Hispanics than in Caucasians
  • Although all ages are at risk of glaucoma it is more common if you are over sixty
  • Open-angle glaucoma is hereditary
  • Blunt trauma or high impact sports have shown an increased risk of glaucoma
  • 40% increase in increased eye pressure in adult patients that use a steroid inhaler for asthma
  • Severe myopia (nearsightedness) and hypertension may increase risk of glaucoma

Types of Glaucoma and related symptoms

  • Open-Angle Glaucoma: there are no visible symptoms. Vision loss occurs in the periphery. Elevated eye pressure would lead to further evaluation and a potential diagnosis. Therefore, regular eye exams are important in detecting elevated eye pressure.
  • Closed-Angle Glaucoma: symptoms include blurry vision, rainbow halos around lights, pain in the eyes or head and sudden loss of vision.

Other Types of Glaucoma

  • Congenital glaucoma

  • Secondary glaucoma

Understanding Diabetic Retnopathy

Video suggestion, fast forward and begin the video at one minute.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy? Treatment and Complications

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication in diabetic patients, which negatively affects the function of the retina. Diabetic retinopathy is caused when the blood vessels that nourish the retina are damaged. This damage results in permanent vision loss.

Potential Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy:

  • Floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Vacant spots in the center of vision
  • Difficulty with night vision

What is Retinal Detachment? Signs, Symptoms and Surgery

What is retinal detachment? Retinal detachment is the separation of the light-sensitive top-layer of the retina from the under-layer.

Potential Causes of Retinal Detachment:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Retinal detachment may be hereditary
  • Trauma
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • History of retinal surgery

Potential Symptoms of Retinal Detachment:

  • Flashing lights - usually in the periphery
  • Unusual blurred vision
  • Shadows and dark spots in the vision of one eye

Treatment for Retinal Detachment:

  • Lasers are used to seal holes and tears in the retina
  • An instrument such as a glass bubble may be placed into the eye. This procedure gently pushes the retina back into place.

Retinal detachment may cause permanent vision loss. Some vision may be restored with treatment.

Blindness: Causes

Blindness can be the result of an eye problem. Traditionally, blindness is the total loss of vision in one or both eyes.

Leading Causes of Blindness:

Routine Eye Care

How often should adults have their eyes examined?

To maintain healthy vision, the American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years for adults ages 18 to 60, and annual exams for seniors age 61 and older. Patients that are at risk should consult their eye care professional for recommendations.

Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic Retinopathy | Source

Matcha and Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes and Vision: Drinking matcha has been proven to naturally improve ocular health and lower the risk of diabetic retinopathy. Read more

© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares

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Comments 23 comments

bankscottage profile image

bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Great Hub on eye disease. Macular degeneration is often hereditary and while not leading to total blindness, can lead to significant visual impairment. Peripheral vision may be maintained, but reading can be very difficult if not impossible. My aunt has the disease. She can see to get around but not read and eventually, even watching t.v. became difficult.

Very nicely written, organized and use of dividers.

Voted up, useful and shared.

Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

Hi Missolive... thanks for writing this something I have been thinking of doing for sometime. I was diagnosed with Glaucoma 12 years ago and was far to late in getting help. The signs were all there but like many I kept putting it off. The results were excessive pressures in both eyes especially the left eye. The damage has resulted in a loss of close to 40% vision in my left eye.

Something to keep in mind is anyone in your family has had Glaucoma the readers should be monitored and a regular bases as it can appear quickly.

Hugs from Canada

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

This is a very informative Hub. I had surgery on both eyes to correct cataracts, and I'm glad I did. Everything was getting blurry. I voted this UP, etc.

LABrashear profile image

LABrashear 4 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

Lots of great information. Thanks for preparing us for what could come! :) Voted up!

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi MissO - this is super interesting. I published a hub just today that touched on blindness and sleep - I am going to link this in! I think it will really add to my hub! Thank you very much!

Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

There is a lot of information here about adult eye problems. My stepdad had to have surgery a few months back due to diabetic retnopathy. Now I understand more about WHY he had to have this done. He just kept saying he had "floaters". Thanks :)

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

This is a very thorough and awesome hub! You really put a lot of work into this hub. As we get older, we do have more eye problems than just needing readers. I intend to come back and read this one again. There was so much to digest!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Great information. My mother had cataract surgery when she was 83. It was the first time I ever knew her to go without her glasses. It was amazing. My brother had to have surgery to remove over 10,000 floaters, and he still has more. He is not a diabetic, but we believe it is the compounds he works with when detailing cars. Very interesting! Votes and shares!

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Marisa, an excellent hub. Very simply explained and packed with useful information. I like the fact that you emphasized getting regular eye check ups on the lines of the dental ones. This is crucial.

Thanks for sharing.

Voted up and all the way across. Shared too.

urmilashukla23 profile image

urmilashukla23 4 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

Great informative hub. Well explained. Voted up!

missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

bankscottage, thank you for your insight. I do appreciate you sharing with us. I'm sorry to hear about your aunt. I hope she is able to maintain her vision. Thank you for reading and for your compliment - I appreciate it.

Rolly A. Chabot, I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I do hope treatment is preventing further damage. Thank you for sharing your experience and your advice. It is apparent eye problems are more common than many have realized.

mary615, I do hope your cataract surgery was a success. My mom just had hers done last year and she is very pleased with the results. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate the votes too :)

LABrashear, thank you for stopping by. I'm glad to share this important information with others. Thanks for the votes.

RealHousewife, hi Kelly! I'll need to check that hub out. It sounds interesting. Thanks for considering this hub as a link.

Ardie, floaters can be very frustrating for some patients. I do have a couple but they are not too bad. I do hope he is feeling better and that he is taking care of his health. Glad to SEE you on my hubs :)

homesteadbound, Hi Cindy, thank you so much! There is quite a bit of info and each one of the eye problems above can be a hub in itself. In fact I'm working on a couple :)

sholland10, I was not used to seeing my mom without glasses but I was glad her cataract surgery was a success. I bet you felt the same way about your mom. I'm glad she had good results. Your brother does have LOTS of floaters, wow! Maybe it is the chemicals...who knows?! Thanks for sharing and voting. I greatly appreciate your support.

rajan jolly, thank you! Eye care hits very close to home for me. My dad was an optometrist. Opticals and optometry were a major part of our lives. I typed up many patient referrals for him over the years and I saw many interesting cases. I sure do miss him.

urmilashukla2, thank you so much - I appreciate your lovely comment

Poetic Fool 4 years ago

This is a great and useful hub, MissOlive. I've always been concerned about getting cataracts as both my parents had them. But here I am a few years older than they were when they were first diagnosed and no sign of them. Whew, so far at least! I was also concerned about retinal detachment because I had extensive sports history including martial arts and have taken a number of sharp blows to the head, head, head, head. Just kidding! But my eye exams show no signs of that either.

So when I go to the optometrist for a new prescription I find out I have something called Fuch's Dystrophy in the cornea of my left eye. No sign of it in the right. It's a genetic thing apparently. Bottom line, I will eventually require a cornea transplant. As surgeries go it's not a big deal but it just goes to show worrying about things never changes anything. So, just take care of yourself properly and live life to the fullest. Thanks for this informative and well-researched hub. I'm sure many people will be helped by it.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

What a great hub---I am hoping that I never have to deal with any of these, but chances are good that I will at some point--so the information is most welcome!

writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

missolive, this is a wonderful to help your followers.

I went an eye exam just one year after having had another because all of a sudden I see the keyboard without glasses and the same with reading. The eye doctor was very surprised how much they had changed, so now I have glasses for everything.

Voted up useful and interesting.

jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA

Excellent info. Thanks you, MissOlive, and thanks to JustAskSusan for sharing it so I found it!

Grace Whites profile image

Grace Whites 4 years ago from Manalapan, New Jersey, USA

Thank you for sharing this useful information about most common eye problems. You know this matter are important to care and everyone must be aware of it. Good hub! Voted up!

missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Audrey Howitt, I hope you never ever have to deal with any of these common eye problems Audrey.

writer20, yes, although it is not common your prescription can change before your next scheduled eye exam. I hope your eyeglass prescription is meeting all of your needs:Far, middle and near.

jellygator, thank you so much. Yes, Just Ask Susan is a great hubber to have around. :)

Grace Whites, you are quite welcome - I'm very glad to share my research with my readers. I appreciate your lovely comment and votes.

Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Great hub MO! So much important research you have done here. I do worry about my eyesight since it certainly seems to be changing lately. Thank you so much for this information.

missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Hi Sharon! Thank you! My eyesight has been fluctuating a bit as well. It sounds like we may both need an eye exam soon :)

Glad to share my research and findings with you

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

The eye disease I have is called Mactel. Your hub was very informative. Voted Up.

missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

moonlake, Yes, I've heard of mactel. I do hope you caught it early and that treatment has been effective for you. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

A well-informed hub on eye examinations and problems one can be faced with you have made your points clear and most useful

missolive profile image

missolive 2 years ago from Texas Author

DDE, thank you very much.

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