Eye problems can range from mild to very serious. Symptoms like headaches, itchy or tired eyes, loss of focus and blurred vision are usually associated with digital eye strain. Eye strain is usually is not serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. However, other eye problems are far more serious and should not be taken lightly. In fact, anytime your vision changes suddenly, you should seek medical attention right away.
Now more than ever, we need to listen to our bodies. Subtle signs and symptoms are its way of telling you that something is wrong, and your eyes are no different. Although changes in vision are expected as we age, what is not are sudden changes including blurriness, blind spots, halos around lights or dimness of vision. Each of these symptoms are considered serious enough to see an eye doctor immediately.
Preserve Your Vision
Because catching serious eye problems early can help preserve your vision, it’s important to understand which signs and symptoms warrant a call to your eye doctor. Keep in mind, even if your symptoms are mild, when they persist, you should always consult with your eye care specialist. To understand what can go wrong, you must first understand how the eyes work. PLEASE NOTE: This information is not intended to help you diagnose your eye problem, but rather to be used as a helpful guide. If you suspect you have an eye or vision problem, please contact your eye doctor.
Anatomy Of The Eye
We’re all apt to take our bodies for granted. But, we might treat them with more respect if we appreciated what subtle, intricate pieces of engineering they are. The eyes are the second most complex organ in the body after the brain.
The main structures of the eye and their functions include:
- Cornea:the clear window of the eye which transmits and focuses light into the eye
- Fovea: the center of the macula (provides sharp vision)
- Iris: the colored part of the eye surrounding the pupil (regulates the amount of light entering the eye)
- Lens: the small clear disk inside the eye (focuses light rays onto the retina)
- Retina: the layer that lines the back of the eye that senses light, and creates electrical impulses that travel through the optic nerve to the brain
- Macula: a small central area in the retina that contains special light-sensitive cells (helps us see fine details clearly in our central vision)
- Optic Nerve: a bundle of more than a million nerve fibers that transmits visual information from the retina to the brain
- Vitreous: a clear, jelly like substance that fills the middle of the eye
How The Eyes Work
The eyes are connected to the brain and are dependent upon the brain to interpret what we see. To understand what can go wrong, we must first understand how the eye enables us to see. The different parts of your eye work together to help you see:
- First the light passes through the front of the eye to the cornea (the cornea is shaped like a dome and bends light to help the eye focus)
- Some of the light enters the eye through the pupil and the iris (the colored part of the eye) controls how much light the pupil lets in
- Next the light passes through the lens and works together with the cornea to focus light correctly on the retina
- When the light hits the retina, special cells turn the light into electrical signals
- The electrical signals travel from the retina to the optic nerve to the brain
- And, the brain turns the electrical signals into images (what we see).
What Can Go Wrong
Our eyes are amazing, complex organs that help us process life visually. They provide us a lifeline to everyday tasks and moments. But, most of us don’t spend time contemplating on the complexities of how they work. That is, until something happens.
There are many things that can go wrong with your eyes. From refractive errors to more serious problems like macular degeneration here is some insight on what can go wrong with different parts of your eyes as well as the signs and symptoms to be aware of.
Signs and symptoms to be aware of:
- Cornea: symptoms: eye pain, blurry vision, red or water eyes, sensitivity to light, blurry vision at any distance (Possible Conditions: eye injury, dry eye, keratoconus, keratitis, astigmatism)
- Iris:symptoms: eye pain, redness, blurry vision, unusually shaped pupil, vision loss
(Possible Conditions: iritis, traumatic iritis)
- Lens:symptoms: cloudy or blurry vision, sensitivity to light, poor night vision, double vision, blurry vision at any distance
(Possible Conditions: astigmatism, cataracts)
- Retina: symptoms: eye floaters, floaters with flashes, shadow in peripheral vision, appearance of grey curtain over part of your vision, sudden decrease in vision, blurriness, dark areas of your vision, difficulty perceiving colors
(Possible Conditions: diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment)
- Macula: symptoms: a gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly, distorted vision, a gradual loss of color vision, a dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision, blurred vision, wavy vision, changes viewing colors
(Possible Conditions: macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema)
- Optic Nerve: symptoms: severe eye pain, red eyes, headaches, nausea and vomiting
(Possible Conditions: glaucoma)
- Vitreous: symptoms: seeing dark specs, floaters or flashes of light, seeing cobwebs, seeing specks
(Possible Conditions: posterior vitreous detachment)
Protecting Your Vision
It’s easy to take your eyesight for granted until something happens to threaten it. Be proactive in your eye health. If you notice any signs or symptoms that are alarming or are persistent, contact our office at (619) 222-2020 right away. We are available Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.