Eye Conditions and Terms

Common Eye Conditions, Diseases, and Eye Terms

Amblyopia: Sometimes referred to as “lazy eye” in children, is a condition of reduced vision in the eye from poor transmission between that eye and the brain.

Anti-Reflective (A/R coating): This treatment on your glasses helps reduce glare.

Astigmatism: An eye condition that is the result of an irregular curvature in the eye. It affects the way the eye processes light and results in slightly blurred vision.

Bi-Focal Lenses: These lenses correct two vision problems at the same time, such as nearsightedness and trouble reading.

Cataracts: The word “cataract” literally means waterfall. A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens of our eye that makes it hard to see. In a normal eye, the crystalline lens is almost transparent and can change shape to focus objects at different distances from the eye. When the lens loses its flexibility and becomes ‘opaque,’ we call it a cataract.

A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens of our eye that makes it hard to see. In a normal eye, the crystalline lens is almost transparent and can change shape to focus objects at different distances from the eye. When the lens loses its flexibility and becomes “opaque,” it is called a cataract.

Some types of cataract formation have been linked to overexposure over a long period of time to ultraviolet (UV) light. As people age, they have an increased chance of developing cataracts, but they can often be treated with a safe and simple surgical procedure performed by an ophthalmologist.

Special precautions must be taken after surgery to ensure that the eye is protected from sunlight. It is important to consult with your eye care professional to ensure that the proper protective eyewear is prescribed to you.

Color deficiency: Commonly called “color blindness,” it is a lack of ability to distinguish certain colors. The most common form is the inability to distinguish shades of red and green.

Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye): Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, or clear membrane covering the white part of the eye and lining of the eyelids. There are actually 20 different types of conjunctivitis, from fairly common strains that usually pose no long-term danger to you or your child’s vision to types that are resistant to antibiotics. Call or see your eye doctor or family physician to treat pinkeye.

Cornea: Transparent tissue covering the front of the eye that lets light travel through.

Dry Eye Syndrome: Itching, burning, and irritation of the eyes, sometimes called “dry eye syndrome,” is one of the most common problems treated by eye care professionals. It is usually caused by the quality of the tears that lubricate our eyes. As we age, our bodies produce less oil to seal the eyes’ watery layer. Hot, arid climates, air conditioning, certain medicines, and irritants such as cigarette smoke can all increase dryness. Your eye care professional might prescribe “artificial tears” or other eye drops to help alleviate the problem.

Floaters and Spots: Ever notice a small speck moving in your field of vision? It might be what is called a floater, a tiny clump of gel or cells in the fluid inside your eye. Aging, eye injury, and breakdown of the vitreous are the main causes of floaters. If you notice a sudden increase in the number of spots you see, call your eye care professional.

Fovea: A tiny spot in the center of the retina that contains only cone cells. It allows us to see things sharply.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. The optic nerve is connected to the retina — a layer of light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye — and is made up of many nerve fibers, like an electric cable is made up of many wires. It is the optic nerve that sends signals from your retina to your brain, where these signals are interpreted as the images you see.

Glaucoma can cause blindness if it is left untreated. Only about half of the estimated three million Americans who have glaucoma are even aware that they have the condition. When glaucoma develops, usually you don’t have any early symptoms and the disease progresses slowly. In this way, glaucoma can steal your sight very gradually. Fortunately, early detection and treatment (with glaucoma eye drops, glaucoma surgery or both) can help preserve your vision.

Higher Index: Additional plastic lens materials fall into this category, in numbers ranging from 1.56 to 1.74 (the higher the number, the thinner the lens). Used when thinner and/or stronger materials are needed.

Hyperopia: Referred to as “farsightedness”, is a condition when distant objects are seen clearly, yet objects close up are seen less clearly.

Iris: A ring of muscles in the colored part of the eye that controls the size of the pupil.

Lens: Located directly behind the pupil, it focuses light rays onto the retina.

Macula: The part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision needed to read or drive.

Macular Degeneration: This is a disease you may be hearing more about as the US population ages. It is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in those 65 years of age and older. It is also called AMD or ARMD (age-related macular degeneration). It occurs when the macula degenerates. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive.

Minor Eye Irritation: (May be caused by sand, dirt, or other foreign body on the eye’s surface.)Wash your hands and then flush the eye with lukewarm water for up to 15 minutes. If the object remains embedded, seek professional medical help immediately.

Multi-Focal Lenses: Bi- and Multi-focal lenses correct more than one vision problem at the same time, such as nearsightedness and trouble reading.

Myopia: Commonly referred to as “nearsightedness”, is a condition where distant objects appear less clearly and those objects up close are seen clearly.

Nyctalopia: Commonly called “night blindness” is impaired vision in dim light or darkness.

Ocular Disorder: A disorder of the eye.

Optic Nerve: A bundle of nerve fibers that carries messages from the eyes to the brain.
Photochromic lenses: Refers to lenses that automatically change from clear to dark in the presence of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Photophobia: Also called “light sensitivity,” this is a condition that can have many underlying causes and can be prompted by many medications. Protection from UV radiation is critical for anyone with this condition.

Plastic 1.50: This is a lens material often used for weaker prescriptions. Very few lenses are made from glass today, since glass is heavier, thicker, and can shatter.

Polarized lenses: These cut down on visible glare of reflective surfaces like water and snow so you can function well in bright conditions.

Presbyopia: A progressive condition that is a natural part of aging. Presbyopia is a decrease in the ability to focus sharply on nearby objects and often results in the need to use magnifying reading glasses, bifocals or progressive lenses.

Progressives: Bi-focal or multi-focal lenses with no visible lines.

Pterygium: This is a raised growth on the eye that is most often directly related to over-exposure to the sun. Dry, dusty conditions may also be a factor. Protecting your eye from UV radiation is a critical preventive measure.

Pupil: An opening in the center of the iris that changes size to control how much light is entering the eye.

Quantity of Vision: The eye’s ability to adjust to environmental and focal differences, which relates to blurred vision.

Quality of Vision: Refers to the light-dark adaptation of the eye.

Retina: Part of the eye that changes light that enters into nerve signals.

Rods and cones: Special cells in the eye used by the retina to process light.

Sclera: The white part of the eye that is composed of fibrous tissue that protects the inner workings of the eye.

Single-Vision: Corrects one vision problem, like near or far-sightedness.

Snellen Chart: The chart topped by a large letter “E” used in eye examinations which measures your eye’s visual acuity, or the ability to see sharp detail clearly.

Strabismus: Sometimes called “crossed eyes” in young children, this condition is the lack of coordination between the eyes, such as one or both eyes turning in, out, up or down.

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR): Commonly referred to as “UV Rays”, consist of both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Without proper protection, UV rays can lead to various eye conditions and damage.

UV Protection: Without it, the harmful rays of the sun can damage your eyes. Make sure your glasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.



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