Four million. That’s the number of Filipinos living with undiagnosed eye problems according to the Department of Health (DOH). What’s more bothersome is the fact that eye problems left untreated can aggravate and can lead to visual impairment –including blindness.
The tricky part is, many eye problem symptoms don’t show up until there’s already damage to your eyesight or until the late stages of the eye disease, like in cases of glaucoma and cataracts. So even when you think your eyes are a-okay and your vision is normal, there’s no telling whether or not you’re part of the affected four million unless you have your eyes checked by a specialist.
One out of every six people who have undergone an eye examination turned out to have an asymptomatic eye disease as concluded in a 2001 study in Canada. Asymptomatic, meaning how some eye diseases fail to show symptoms or outward signs that can alert the person of their ailments.
We can’t stress enough the importance of getting an eye exam, visit your ophthalmologist to check for any eye problem symptoms, especially when you have these risk factors:
• Long exposure to electronic and blue-light emitting devices
• Family history of any eye disorders, hypertension, and diabetes
• Smoking and alcohol consumption
• Poor nutrition or unbalanced diet
• Sedentary or indoor lifestyle
• Previous or present eye infections or injuries
• Steroid medicine consumption
• Use of eye makeup and/or contact lenses
8 Eye Problem Symptoms to Watch Out For
Just like any disease, early detection and prevention are the best options to address eye issues. As pointed out earlier, you don’t need to wait for eye problem symptoms to manifest before you take precautionary measures for your eyes. But when they do, it’s best not to ignore them, whether it’s as simple as itchy eyes or eye pain that quickly goes away.
Here are some eye problem symptoms and the possible conditions that cause them.
1. Itchy eyes.
It may just be an allergic reaction, but itchy eyes can also be a sign of an underlying infection. Besides conjunctivitis or pink eye, another possible eye infection is uveitis, an inflammation of the iris that when left untreated, can lead to severe vision loss and eye complications such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Try to avoid rubbing your eyes with your hands, especially when you already have an eye infection as these are usually very contagious and could worsen the situation.
2. Headache or migraine.
Even if this is pretty common, headache behind the eyes or a migraine should be taken seriously, even more so when it’s when accompanied by blurred vision, light sensitivity, floaters, and halos. These could be symptoms of glaucoma, scleritis, and optic neuritis.
3. Watery or teary eyes.
Eye watering is a defense mechanism of our body to keep our eyes healthy and comfortable, it also deters foreign objects from slipping into our eyes. On the other hand, if this becomes excessive or disruptive, it could be a sign of a chronic condition like dry eye syndrome, tear duct disorders, or issues with the cornea such as a scratch or an ulcer.
4. Dry eyes.
Remember that our eyes need to be lubricated in order to maintain their healthy condition. Due to heavy and prolonged use of digital devices, dry eyes are common and are one of the major indications of digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.
If left untreated, our eyes become susceptible to infections, corneal abrasions, and poorer vision.
5. Red eyes.
This can be pretty harmless and can go away on its own. But red eyes can also indicate tired eyes due to digital eye strain, so make sure to balance computer work, smartphone scanning, and other activities that can overwork your eyes. As part of proper eye care, follow the 20-20-20 rule –that is, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
On the other hand, if the redness comes after an eye or head injury, go see a doctor immediately as this could be an indication of bleeding in the brain.
6. Eye pain.
Pain is our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. But when it comes to our eyes, we often wait for it to become very painful before we go straight to the doctor. However, the severity of eye pain has nothing to do with the severity of an eye condition according to Dr. Gary Heiting. He explained that something relatively minor as a corneal abrasion can be as painful as a major eye problem.
This makes eye problem symptoms more complicated. So it’s a good idea to check with your ophthalmologist even when eye pains you’re experiencing are tolerable.
Certain eye infections and inflammation like conjunctivitis and iritis can result to pain “in” the eyes, while blepharitis and digital eye strain cause pain around the eyes.
7. Blurred eyesight.
One of the chief complaints when it comes to eye health. This condition is commonly referred to as astigmatism, and is a sign that you need eye glasses or corrective lenses to address the problem.
Blurry vision can also mean the presence of eye disease such as conjunctivitis, cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
We see these floating through our field of vision as squiggles or little spots, and occasionally they are nothing to be worried about. But if these occurrences become frequent along with flashes of light, seek medical attention immediately. These could point out to serious eye problems such as detached or torn retina or bleeding inside the eye.
Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Our eyes are perhaps one of the most hardworking organs of the body. Therefore, we should make time to conduct proper eye care and should never brush off eye problem symptoms.
Even though these symptoms don’t show up at the onset of eye diseases and disorders, and although they can be hard to pin down sometimes, a big portion of these eye problems can always be avoided and corrected. There’s a lot that we can do in order to enjoy healthy eyes and clear vision for a long time.
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