What are eye conditions?

Eye conditions include diseases, disorders, and other problems of the eye and the eyelid. Within the eye there are many elements that work together with the nervous system and the eye muscles to create vision. Light passes through the cornea and the pupil of the globe (eyeball) onto the lens before it is projected onto the retina in the back of the eye. The retina transforms light into electrical impulses that can be transmitted by the optic nerve to the brain. The eyes are protected by the bones of the orbit and move through the actions of the eye muscles, which are controlled by nerves.

Refractive errors

The most common eye conditions are refractive errors, which are types of blurry vision caused by irregularly shaped corneas, by changes in the lens, or by an abnormally shaped eyeball. Types of refractive errors include:

  • Astigmatism is a distortion of details in both close and distant vision due to an abnormal curvature of the cornea.

  • Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is blurring of near vision caused by an eyeball that is too short.

  • Myopia, or nearsightedness, is blurring of distant vision caused by an eyeball that is too long.

  • Presbyopia is blurring of near vision caused by changes to the lens with aging.

People tend to be born with refractive errors or develop them through the aging process. In many cases, refractive errors can be treated with corrective lenses, contacts, and surgical procedures, such as laser treatment. If you have trouble focusing on near or far objects, contact your licensed health care provider to discuss your treatment options. 11 million people age 12 and older in the United States could improve their vision with refractive error correction (Source: CDC).

Other common eye conditions

Other common conditions include the following:

  • Cataract is a clouding of the lens that blurs and distorts vision.
  • Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retinal blood vessels caused cellular changes from diabetes.
  • Eye infections, such as conjunctivitis and keratitis, are caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi.
  • Eye trauma and exposure to certain substances damage the eye and may impair vision.
  • Glaucoma is a condition in which fluid pressure builds up in the eye, damaging the optic nerve.
  • Macular degeneration is deterioration of the macula, which is the central part of the retina.
  • Retinal detachment is elevation of the light-sensing retina from its normal location.

Anyone can develop an eye condition including infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. Conditions that impair vision tend to occur much more frequently in the elderly due to the aging process. More than 3.3 million people in the United States have legal blindness or low vision (Source: CDC).

Many eye conditions, particularly conditions that affect your vision, are not preventable. They are often inherited or develop due to unforeseeable genetic or environmental factors and aging. Even so, prompt diagnosis and treatment of an underlying problem can help reduce or delay the onset of serious complications, such as complete loss of vision.

In some cases, eye conditions can lead to serious complications including permanent blindness. Seek prompt and regular eye care throughout your life to reduce the risk of serious complications of eye conditions and best preserve your vision. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have sudden blurriness, distorted vision, loss of vision, eye pain, or an eye injury.


What are the symptoms of eye conditions?

Symptoms of eye conditions vary and depend on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Acute eye conditions, such as an eye injury or infection, may be accompanied by inflammation and pain. Symptoms of eye conditions include:

  • Bleeding from the eye
  • Bulging of the eye (proptosis)
  • Discharge from the eye

What causes eye conditions?

Causes of eye conditions vary depending on the type of eye condition and the individual case. In some cases, the cause is not known.

  • Cataracts can be caused by aging, smoking, injury, diabetes, genetic factors, steroid use, infection during pregnancy, and other factors.

  • Diabetic retinopathy is caused by diabetes-induced c... Read more about eye conditionscauses


How are eye conditions treated?

Many eye conditions are inherited or related to aging. As such, they are usually not preventable. However, prompt diagnosis and treatment can help reduce or delay vision loss and improve your quality of life. Treatment plans vary depending on the type and stage of the eye condition and other factors.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Eyes and Vision

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