Twitching Eyes or Blepharospasm; Eye ‘Floaters’; Myopia (shortsightedness); Astigmatism; Watery Eyes
Your common eyesight is one of the most valuable assets as 80% of what we perceive come through our sense of sight. In fact, a greater part of the brain is dedicated to vision than to all the other four senses combined. Most of us tend to take good eye health for granted, until the time we face a serious eye problem. Many eye problems have no early symptoms; you may not feel any pain or notice loss of vision until the issue has become quite advanced. The best way to avoid all such eye complications is through regular professional eye examinations. So what are some common issues affecting the eyes
Twitching Eyes |Common Eye Problems
Eye twitching medically referred to as Blepharospasm is an involuntary, abnormal blinking of the eyelid. This involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscles may happen in one or both eyelids and is rarely uncomfortable, but it can be irritating. They are very common and often last for a few seconds and often go away on their own, but if they last for more than 2 weeks, it is best to consult an ophthalmologist. Although anyone can experience eye-twitching at any time, it is fairly common in middle-aged people and elderly women.
Eye twitching or spasm of eyelid muscles can be attributed to the electrical activity in the brain that causes the nerve cells to flash signals to the eyelid muscles. There are no visible external or internal stimuli that cause eye twitching. Other conditions which may increase the likelihood of eye twitching include:
- irritation of the eye or eyelids
- dry eyes
- excessive caffeine intake
- excessive alcohol intake
- disrupted sleep patterns
- bright light
- high winds
Mild cases of eye twitching do not require any medical treatment, getting some rest, minimizing caffeine and alcohol intake, and reducing stress can help relieve symptoms. However, more chronic forms of this condition may require any of the following medical treatments:
- Medications – your GP may advise you to use certain medicines to treat the eye twitching problem. However, these medications do not give the same results to everyone and tend to only mask the symptoms for a short period of time.
- Facial Injections – for severe cases, your GP may use facial injections such as Botulinum toxin to help paralyze the muscles that cause this eye twitching. In most cases, the eyelid muscle contractions stop immediately.
- Surgery – for patients who do not respond to the other forms of treatment, surgery may be the last option. The surgeon removes the muscles around the eyelid or part of the nerve in order to lessen the severity of the spasms.
Eye “Floaters” |Common Eye Problems
As the name suggests, the eye “floaters” are small spots, specks, strands, cobwebs, or lines that aimlessly drift through your field of vision. They are more prominent when you look at light-colored backgrounds such as a white wall or blue sky. They move as you move your eyes and usually disappear when you try to look at them directly. They may appear in different shapes and sizes and in most cases they are normal and harmless. Although anyone can experience eye floaters at any time, they are usually experienced by middle-aged people.
It is generally agreed that eye floaters are caused by an irregularity in the jelly-like fluid “vitreous humour” that makes the bulk of the eye. As we grow older, this jelly-like fluid becomes more watery with tiny clumps of protein floating through it. These tiny clumps of protein cast a shadow onto the retina as soon as bright light enters the eye; this is what we see as small spots, specks, strands, cobwebs, or lines floating through our field of vision.
Besides abnormalities in the vitreous humour, eye floaters can be caused as a result from other diseases and conditions, such as:
- inflammation in the back of the eye
- bleeding in the eye
- infection in the eye
- torn retina
- eye surgery
- eye medications
Witnessing something floating around your field of vision may at first seem like a matter of concern, but floaters are very common and usually harmless. Under very rare cases they require any medical treatment as they usually go away on their own with the passage of time. The best way to deal with floaters is to ignore them, however, if they start to interfere with your vision or create other complications, you should seek medical advice. Your doctor, after carrying out a detailed examination of your eyes, may consider any of the following treatment options:
- Laser Therapy for Eye Floaters – laser therapy is used to either disrupt the floaters or break them up in tiny pieces so they are less noticeable. Although not widely used, laser therapy for floaters is a relatively new treatment approach and is in the experimental phase. People have reported varying results of this therapy, some witness improvement after the procedure, while others see no or little difference.
- Surgery for Eye Floaters – a small surgery (vitrectomy) may be performed by a surgeon to remove the vitreous fluid and replace it with a solution. If the surgery is not performed well, it can create complications and can also give rise to new floaters. Most of the surgeons, therefore do not recommend a surgery for eye floaters unless the floaters seriously interfere with your daily life and vision.
Myopia |Common Eye Problems
Myopia, commonly known as “shortsightedness” or “nearsightedness” is a refractive error of the eye in which the eye fails to focus clearly on distant objects. People who suffer from this eye focusing disorder are unable to see distant objects clearly but often can see reasonably clear at short distances. It is generally categorized as an eye-focusing disorder, rather than a disease.
Myopia is a fairly common eye-focusing disorder and usually begins in childhood. It is estimated that by 2050, almost half of the global population will be affected by this disorder.
Myopia usually occurs when the eyes grow slightly too long from front to back. As a result of this deformity, the light does not focus on the retina (the light-sensitive tissue), instead, an image is created in front of the retina, resulting in blurred vision. Scientists are still unclear as to why this deformity of the eye happens, they often link it to heredity or environmental factors such as poor diet, poor posture, poor light, excessive reading, and lack of exposure to natural sunlight.
Despite so many advances in the field of medicine, no drug or treatment for myopia has been discovered. Recent research suggests that some drugs might slow the progression of myopia. A number of treatments, however, are available to correct myopia symptoms all of which focus on making the light rays fall on the retina to make a clearer image of the distant object.
- Corrective lenses – such as glasses or contact lenses
- Laser eye surgery – laser eye surgery is performed to make the necessary corrections to the shape of the eye. Laser eye surgery is however not advisable for children since their eyes are still developing.
- Artificial lens implants – the natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens on a permanent basis to help the eyes focus correctly.
Astigmatism |Common Eye Problems
Like myopia (nearsightedness/shortsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism is a refractive error/disorder of the eyes and not a disease. In astigmatism, the light entering the eye fails to focus on the retina, resulting in distorted or blurred vision. This refractive error occurs because of an irregularly shaped lens (lenticular astigmatism) inside the eye or irregularly shaped cornea (corneal astigmatism). In a normal eye, the cornea and the lens are curved like a basketball with an equal degree of roundness in all areas; this makes the light bend evenly to give a clear view. An eye with astigmatism, however, has a lens and cornea that is curved more like a football (egg-shaped), with one meridian being slightly more curved than the other, this makes the light bend more in one direction than the other resulting in blurred or distorted vision.
The exact cause of astigmatism (deformity) of the cornea or lens of the eyes is still not known, but scientists consider genetics to be a big factor. Astigmatism is often present at birth; however, there have also been instances of astigmatism developing in later part of life.
Like myopia and hyperopia, most cases of astigmatism can be effectively corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. If astigmatism is mild, your doctor may not suggest any treatment. The two most common treatment options for normal astigmatism are:
- Corrective lenses – such as glasses or contact lenses
- Refractive Surgery – with the help of laser light, the shape of the cornea or lens is changed.
Watery Eyes |Common Eye Problems
Tears are very important for the health and wellbeing of your eyes. We generally associate tears with emotions or onions. However, if you have tears in your eyes for no reason, an eye condition may be the reason. The good news is that most of these eye conditions can be effectively treated with over-the-counter medicines.
Epiphora or excessive abnormal tearing is a condition in which the eye/s make more tears than they can effectively drain making the eye/s wet for a prolonged period of time. While not necessarily harmful, watery eyes can be very frustrating and embarrassing at the time and can even cause vision problems.
The most common causes of watery eyes (Epiphora) are:
- Excessive productions of tears – irritation or inflammation of the surface of the eye are the two reasons which can cause the eye to produce more tears to rinse the irritant away.
- Blockage of the tear ducts – some people are born with blocked tear ducts, while others may develop it later in life as a result of narrowing of ducts because of swelling or inflammation or displacement of drainage openings (puncta).
- dry eyes
- pink eyes (conjunctivitis)
- keratitis – infection of the cornea
- eye strain
- allergies – such as hay fever
- use of certain medications
- corneal cancer
- cut or scrape on the eye
- ingrown eyelash
Most cases of watery eyes are not serious and will resolve on their own with the passage of time or by using certain OTC medications. However, in case of tear drainage problems, minor surgery is performed to create a new channel of drainage from the tear sac to the inside of the nose. In case, the drainage channels are narrowed and not entirely blocked, the surgeon may use a probe to make them wider.
Southbank Medical Centre
Common Eye Problems