Eye Health: Common Vision Problems and Eye Conditions

Young men's version of this guide
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There are three common types of vision problems: nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Nearsightedness: Nearsightedness is also called myopia. People who are nearsighted can see fine up close, but things that are far away are blurry. One out of every four people in the U.S. is nearsighted. Nearsightedness may get worse when you’re a teenager. People whose parents are nearsighted may be more likely to be nearsighted themselves.

What causes nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness is caused when the eyeball, lens, or cornea has an abnormal shape. If the eyeball is too long, then light is focused in front of the retina. This makes distant objects appear blurry.

Farsightedness: Farsightedness is also called hyperopia. People who are farsighted can see distant objects clearly, but things up close are blurry. But some people with severe farsightedness have trouble seeing things up close and far away.

About one in every ten to twenty people is farsighted. You may become farsighted if your parents are farsighted.

What causes farsightedness?

Farsightedness is caused when the eyeball, lens, or cornea has an abnormal shape. If the eyeball is too short, then light is focused behind the retina. This makes close objects appear blurry.

Astigmatism:

People with astigmatism may see blurry or stretched out images. You may have mild astigmatism and not know it because it doesn’t cause a noticeable change to your vision.

What causes astigmatism?

A normal eyeball is round, but the eyeball of a person with astigmatism is shaped like a football. This means light entering the eye doesn’t reach the retina and creates a blurry image.

How do I fix my vision problem?

If you think you have a vision problem, see an eye specialist for a full eye exam. He/she will test your vision during the exam and decide what type of vision problem you have. Your eye specialist will write you a prescription for corrective lenses, if you need them. Then it’s time for you and your eye specialist to decide what type of corrective lenses is best for you: glasses or contacts.

Should I get glasses or contact lenses?

Deciding between glasses and contact lenses can be a difficult choice. Talk to your eye specialist and your parent(s)/guardian(s) about the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

Common Eye Conditions

Watery Eyes: Watery eyes make too many tears, which is why this condition is also called excessive tearing.

Watery eyes may be caused by:

  • Blocked tear duct
  • Irritation
  • Dry eyes
  • Cold
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Cold weather
  • Wind
  • Medications such as antihistamines

Is there anything I can do to make my watery eyes feel better?

Yes. You can try applying warm compresses to your eyes and/or use saline eye drops to keep your eyes moist. If the problem doesn’t go away, see your primary health care provider (PCP). If you have any pain or changes in vision, call right away.

Pink eye/Conjunctivitis: A person with conjunctivitis usually has one or two eyes that look very red; this condition is often called, “pink eye”. Conjunctivitis is the swelling of the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis may be caused by infection, allergy, or irritation. Infections are very contagious and may be spread at school when teens are in close contact. Not taking care of contact lenses or sharing eye makeup may also cause infection.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Soreness
  • Pus
  • Swelling
  • Crusting of the lashes, especially on awakening in the morning

Treating Conjunctivitis: Contact your primary care provider if you have any symptoms of conjunctivitis. Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause. Antibiotic ointments or eye drops may be prescribed if bacteria may be causing the conjunctivitis.

  • Virus – There is no treatment, though cold compresses on the eyes will make you feel more comfortable. The infection should clear up in one to two weeks.
  • Allergies – Antihistamines and other medicines may keep the allergies under control. Cold compresses on the eyes usually help.

Preventing Conjunctivitis:

  1. Wash your hands regularly.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes.
  3. Keep your contacts clean and take them out at night.
  4. Change your eye makeup regularly and don’t share makeup with other people.
  5. Use clean towels to wipe your face.

Colorblindness: For many people, it’s hard to imagine the world without color. But for people with colorblindness, or a color vision defect, living without color is a way of life. There are three types of colorblindness – not being able to see red and green, not seeing blue and yellow, and seeing no color at all. Most people inherit colorblindness from their parents and since there is no treatment, they learn to live with the condition. Approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world are colorblind. Although some medications can cause colorblindness, most people are born with the condition.

Bell’s Palsy: Bell’s Palsy is a disease that affects the muscles of the face and eyes. Someone with this condition may have trouble closing one eye or have trouble making facial expressions. If you have any weakness or paralysis (numbness) in your facial muscles, you should see your primary health care provider right away to see if you need test(s) and/or medicine. Lyme disease is a common cause of Bell’s Palsy in the northern and other parts of the United States. The symptoms can go away in a month, if the infection is mild. More serious cases can cause dryness or even blindness; however, most people with Bell’s Palsy have a complete recovery.