Common Eye Diseases & Conditions
Glaucoma, or “the silent thief of sight,” is a degenerative disease that affects the optic nerve. Typically, elevated internal eye pressure levels cause stress on the tissues that surround the optic nerve, which lead to irreversible damage. Most cases of glaucoma are asymptomatic in the early stages, so it’s important to visit your optometrist for regular comprehensive eye exams, especially if you’re over 60.
The most common type of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma, where fluid gradually builds up in the eye and increases intraocular pressure. Other types of glaucoma include:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative eye disease that damages the retina’s central-most part, called the macula. The macula will begin to deteriorate over time, affecting our central vision, which allows us to see colour and subtle details.
AMD is often attributed to the natural ageing process. However, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, and a family history of the condition have also contributed to its relevance.
There are 2 types of AMD:
Dry AMD is the most common of the 2, accounting for 9 out of every 10 cases. Dry AMD progresses slowly and is often characterized by drusen, protein deposits that collect behind the retina.
Wet AMD is much less common but much more severe. Wet AMD only affects every 1 out of 10 cases. It develops very quickly, causing blood vessels to rupture and leak fluid into the macula suddenly. Due to wet AMD’s volatile nature, it carries a high risk of permanent vision loss and is considered a medical emergency.
Cataracts are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of ageing that affect thousands of Canadians. When the naturally clear lens in the eye ages, it becomes stiff and cloudy, which can obstruct vision. Mild to moderate cataracts can typically be managed and treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Severe cataracts can completely block vision and may need surgery to remove them completely.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” is a condition that affects the conjunctiva, a thin membrane that covers the eye’s surface. It is characterized by the sclera, or whites of the eyes, becoming irritated and inflamed, appearing pink or red. There are 4 types of conjunctivitis, and a few of them are very contagious. If you experience conjunctivitis symptoms, it is essential to visit your optometrist as soon as possible.
Different types of conjunctivitis include:
Bacterial conjunctivitis, which is contracted by direct contact with infectious bacteria. This type is very contagious and should be treated with antibiotics.
Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a viral infection related to the common cold. This type is also very infectious but usually goes away on its own.
Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by an allergic reaction, usually to irritants like dust, pollen, or animal dander. This type is not contagious and can typically be controlled with antihistamines.
Chemical conjunctivitis occurs due to exposure to harmful chemicals or pollutants, like chlorine in a pool. This type of conjunctivitis is not contagious.