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Glossary of Eye Related Problems

Age-related Macular Degeneration:

Also known as AMD. AMD is a chronic disease that causes a loss of central vision. AMD affects the part of the eye that allows you to see color and fine detail. There are two different forms of AMD. Dry AMD is the most common and is usually gradual. Due to the slow progression, dry AMD can often go unnoticed until it reaches advanced stages. Wet AMD is very rare and can develop quickly. Wet AMD is very serious and can lead to a rapid loss of central vision.


Symptoms of Dry AMD:

Close vision requires more light

Print begins to appear blurry

Colors seem less bright

Vision is hazy

Blurry or blind spot appears in center of vision

Diabetic Retinopathy:

High blood sugar can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and sends messages to the brain. This damage is referred to as diabetic retinopathy. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy.


Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR):

This is the early stages and is commonly referred to as background retinopathy. During this stage, small blood vessels in the retina may leak fluid or blood. Many people with diabetes have mild NPDR, which does not affect their vision. When vision is affected it is the result of Macular Edema and/or Macular Ischemia.


Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR):

PDR is present when abnormal new vessels (neovascularization) begin growing on the surface of the retina or optic nerve. This condition occurs when the current blood vessels close and no longer supply the retina properly. The growth of new blood vessels is the response of the retina to maintain blood supply. The new blood vessels do not supply the retina with normal blood flow due to the accompaniment of scar tissue. This scar tissue may cause wrinkling or detachment of the retina resulting in severe vision loss.


Diabetic patients should be examined at least once a year. Pregnant women with diabetes should be checked in the first trimester since retinopathy can progress quickly during pregnancy. Blood sugar should be under control when checked for glasses, due to the fluctuation of vision. Blood sugar can cause rapid changes in vision even if retinopathy is not present. Any visual changes that affect one or both eyes, last more than a few days and are not associated with a change in blood sugar should be examined promptly.

Macular Edema:

The swelling or thickening of the center of the retina that sees fine details. The swelling is caused from the leaking of fluid. It is the most common cause of vision loss in patients with Diabetes. Cases vary from mild to severe.

Macular Ischemia occurs when small blood vessels close. Vision blurs because the center of the retina no longer receives enough blood to work properly.


Dry Eyes:

Some people do not produce enough tears or the appropriate quality of tears to keep the eye healthy and comfortable causing a condition called dry eyes. Tear production decreases with age, but anyone at any age can be affected. Some prescription and over the counter medication can cause dry eyes as well. Artificial tears are usually used to treat the side effects of dry eyes.



Stinging or burning eyes


Stringy mucus in or around the eyes

Excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind

Excessive tearing

Difficulty wearing contacts



Visual disturbances that appear as small specks or clouds moving are known as floaters. They appear mostly when looking at clear backgrounds, such as a blank wall or a blue sky. These objects may look like they are in front of the eye, but they are actually floating inside it. Floaters may appear as different shapes such as little dots, circles, lines, clouds, or cobwebs. The appearance of floaters may be alarming, especially if they develop very suddenly. An ophthalmologist should be contacted immediately if new floaters develop, especially in people over 45 years of age. Occasionally floaters may be a symptom of a tear in the retina, which is a serious problem. Some floaters are harmless and fade over time or become less bothersome, requiring no treatment. Surgery to remove floaters is very rare.



Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve-the part of the eye that carries the images to the brain. This damage occurs when there is a buildup of fluid pressure in the eye that increases, pushing against the optic nerve and causing damage. Damage to the optic nerve causes blind spots or total blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Loss of sight from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment. There are two types of glaucoma.


Chronic Open-Angle Glaucoma:

This is the most common form and the risk of developing it increases with age. The pressure within the eye gradually increases. Typically, with open angle glaucoma there are no symptoms at first and vision remains normal. As the condition worsens, blank spots will begin to appear in the field of vision. These blank spots won’t be noticeable in normal activities until the optic nerve is severely damaged and the blank spots become large. Closed-Angle Glaucoma: This form occurs when the iris (the colored part of the eye) traps the fluid in the eye and causes a rapid increase in pressure. Two-thirds of people with closed-angle glaucoma develop it slowly without any symptoms prior to the attack. If this type of glaucoma is not treated quickly, blindness can result.


Symptoms of Glaucoma:

Blurred vision

Severe eye pain


Rainbow-colored halos around lights

Nausea and vomiting


Risk Factors:


Elevated eye pressure

Family history of glaucoma

African or Hispanic ancestry

Farsightedness or nearsightedness

Past eye injuries

Thinner central corneal thickness

Systemic health problems, including diabetes, migraine headaches, and poor circulation

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