A number of signs could be hidden symptoms of larger eye problems. Many individuals ignore these symptoms, writing them off as a coincidence, a sign of stress, or caused by tiredness.
Roughly 16 million Americans have undiagnosed or untreated eye problems. And when you know a little under half of all Americans don’t have regular eye exams, this makes perfect sense. Regular eye exams, every one to three years, can catch developing eye problems and hidden issues. Luckily, by tuning into what your body is telling you, you can identify warning symptoms as they develop.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your optometrist to schedule an appointment.
Signs You Need to See an Optometrist
- Blurred Vision
- Double Vision
- Blind Spots
- Light Halos
- Red Eyes
- Dry Eyes
- Watery Eyes
- Irritated Eyes
- Faded Colors
- Eye Fatigue
- Changing Prescription
- Light Sensitivity
- Poor Night Vision
- Peripheral Vision Loss
Headaches can be a symptom of a multitude of medical problems, eye problems being just one of them. If you experience frequent headaches and find yourself frequently squinting to see, this is a sign you should schedule an eye appointment with your optometrist.
Possible Causes: Eye strain by long periods of computer use, old eye prescription, eye alignment problems
Possible Treatments: Breaking up computer use, getting a new prescription for contacts or glasses
Blurred vision, where there is a lack of sharpness hindering your ability to see the finer details, isn’t a symptom to be ignored. While not an immediate threat to your health, it is likely pointing to the need for corrective lenses.
Possible Causes: Myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, astigmatism, or eye disease
Possible Treatments: Corrective lenses, management of eye disease through surgery or medication
When we see everything comes in as one, clear image. Or rather, it’s supposed to. This is thanks to the complex processes of your eyes and brain all working together to present you with one coherent visual. If you are experiencing double vision in one or both eyes, it’s a concerning sign.
Double vision could be as simple as stress or fatigue. But, it could be as serious as a major eye disease. If you experience double vision, especially if it’s a sudden onset of double vision in both eyes, it’s imperative you schedule an eye exam immediately.
Possible Causes: Incorrect prescription, weakened eye muscles, cataracts, strabismus, medical conditions unrelated to the eyes including stroke
Possible Treatments: New lens prescription, surgery, or another treatment plan laid out by your optometrist or doctor.
Are you experiencing double vision?
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Difficulty Seeing at Night
Sometimes called night blindness, difficulty seeing at night or in dim lighting can be caused by a number of conditions. These range from serious and urgent to simple and benign. This makes it important to get in an appointment with your optometrist quickly. Not only will possible treatments restore your ease of vision in poor lighting, but it will also clear you of any more serious health problems.
Possible Causes: Myopia, astigmatism, retinitis pigmentosa, cataracts, glaucoma, or an uncorrected visual error
Possible Treatments: Special lens coating, contact lenses, or glasses for nighttime use, surgery, medication
Squinting is often done subconsciously. It is our brain trying to clear up blurry vision. Unfortunately, this usually results in headaches and doesn’t help with vision at all. In children, in particular, squinting may be accompanied by attempts to read or view items with one eye closed. This is another effort to compensate for a vision problem likely caused by a difference in visual impairment between the two eyes.
This symptom shouldn’t have you running to your local optometrist, but you should make scheduling an appointment a priority. Without proper lenses to help with vision, you may experience persistent headaches and eye strain.
Possible Causes: Myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, keratoconus
Possible Treatments: Glasses or contact lenses
Halos Around Light
Seeing halos around lights, seen as bright circles, is most often observed at night or in dim lighting. While there are some normal causes for seeing halos around lights, such as wearing glasses, there are some causes that aren’t so innocuous.
If you are seeing halos and are bothered by other eye-related symptoms, such as blurred vision, you could have a more serious eye problem. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your optometrist if the symptom continues or worsens.
Possible Causes: Cataracts, glaucoma, Fuchs’ dystrophy, photokeratitis, ocular migraine, keratoconus
Possible Treatments: Medication or surgery
If you have chronically dry eyes, there are a number of treatment options your optometrist can take to help better your situation. Dry eyes are uncomfortable, irritating, and disruptive to your everyday life. While there are home remedies you can use to better your situation, seeing an optometrist will open up a number of additional treatment options you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Possible Causes: Decreased tear production, increased tear evaporation, an imbalance in tear composition
Possible Treatments: Medications, eye inserts, eyedrops, surgical procedures, specialized contact lenses, light therapy, eyelid massage therapy, ointments
Watery eyes can be caused by a number of problems, from your everyday allergies to something as serious as conjunctivitis. Watery eyes could be a symptom of a very serious eye problem that can be diagnosed by an optometrist.
Possible Causes: Eye strain, ectropion, entropion, trichiasis, conjunctivitis, blocked tear ducts
Possible Treatments: Prescription eye drops, antibiotics, surgical procedures
We all have one spot in each of our eyes with no photoreceptors, causing a blind spot. This particular blind spot is completely normal and generally not even noticeable during your day-to-day life. But blind spots outside of this spot are abnormal and should not be ignored.
If you have a blind spot in your vision that is getting larger, the addition of new blind spots, or floating blind spots, you should have your eyes evaluated by an optometrist to ensure there are no serious underlying causes.
Possible Causes: Diabetic retinopathy, HIV-AIDS-related eye problems, macular degeneration, tumor, stroke, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis
Possible Treatments: Blind spots that develop or spread to the central vision can not generally be corrected once developed. In severe cases where blind spots affect your ability to function with day-to-day tasks, you will need to adapt your lifestyle to include aids for those with decreased vision.
Do you have blind spots in your vision?
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There are a plethora of causes to irritated eyes, and more likely than not it will take a professional to find the true cause. While some causes are simple and even normal, others will need medical attention and monitoring. It’s best to have your irritated eyes checked by a professional both for your comfort and for your long term health.
Possible Causes: Allergies, irritants, dry eye, digital eye strain, infection, styes, blocked tear ducts, glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis, cluster headaches, blepharitis
Possible Treatments: Eye drops, medication
Colors Appear Faded
Colors beginning to appear faded could be caused by a number of eye problems. Getting in to see your optometrist quickly can help to halt any progression of color vision loss before it worsens.
While there are some treatments to the perception of colors themselves, most who develop color blindness will not be given a cure. You’ll need to begin learning home remedies and lifestyle changes for getting around the lack of perceiving color. This could be memorizing the order of colored objects, using technology, or enlisting labeling as an aid.
Possible Causes: Cataracts, color blindness, macular degeneration, astigmatism, glaucoma
Possible Treatments: Glasses or corrective lenses
A changing eye prescription could be a sign of aging or caused by a condition impacting your eyes. Either way, regular optometry appointments when you already have corrective lenses are especially important for maintaining the correct lenses.
Your vision impairment may worsen as your age (presbyopia), which is a more benign reason for a changing prescription. But, during your appointment, your optometrist can also check for glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other eye problems that are more serious in nature.
Possible Causes: Cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, presbyopia
Possible Treatments: An updated prescription for corrective lenses, medication, surgery
Many of the causes of eye fatigue are environmental or caused by our own habits. This, at least, means we can make positive changes to limit our eye fatigue. But, for some eye fatigue is a symptom of an underlying problem. This could be a refractive error such as myopia or hyperopia.
Possible Causes: Reading, writing, driving, computer work, exposure to bright lights or glare, working in dim light, underlying eye problems, uncorrected vision problems, stress, fatigue
Possible Treatments: Corrective lenses
Red eyes are easy to spot and an obvious sign that something is wrong. You could experience dry eye, the start of an infection, or even something as serious as the development of glaucoma. An optometrist will be able to quickly and thoroughly check your eyes for any signs of concern and present you with a treatment plan to get your eyes back to normal.
Possible Causes: Dry eye, eye irritation, infection, injury, glaucoma, uveitis, ulcers
Possible Treatments: Eyedrops, medication
Peripheral Vision Loss
Peripheral vision loss is a major warning sign of underlying health conditions you don’t want to ignore. If you notice peripheral vision loss (PVL), schedule an appointment with your optometrist right away.
Depending on your individual situation, if you get to your optometrist in the early stages of your condition you can potentially preserve your vision and avoid significant vision loss.
Possible Causes: Glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, stroke, diabetic retinopathy
Possible Treatments: Eyedrops, surgery
Other Reasons You May Need to Schedule an Eye Appointment
Eye appointments should be scheduled every one to three years. If you meet any of the following criteria, aim for more frequent eye appointments based on your optometrists’ recommendation:
- You have diabetes or another health condition that related to your eyes
- It has been more than three years since your last appointment
- Eye conditions run in your family
- You have noticed you are sitting closer to the TV or computer screen or holding books closer to your face to read
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms covered in this article, please reach out to us to schedule an appointment.
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