Understanding The Most Common Eye Conditions

Our ability to see is one of the most amazing things the human body can do. The sense of sight involves countless muscles, nerves, and specialized parts that must all work properly in order to provide good eyesight. If  you are experiencing any of the common eye conditions listed below the quality of your eyesight can deteriorate or even disappear.

That’s why it is critically important to understand common eye conditions. Many of the conditions we can develop will respond to treatment if detected at their early stages. Others are congenital and cannot be corrected, but we can still take steps to minimize their impact on our lives.

One factor you will see is the importance of regular eye exams, especially for children. When a child is born with an eye condition, he or she may not realize that something is wrong. The child assumes that everyone has the same type of problems and may never complain of it to a parent or teacher. An optometrist may be more able to detect changing or declining eyesight by examining us once or twice a year than we may notice ourselves.

Also of critical importance is to take action when there are changes in eyesight. These eye conditions are some of the most common ones you may experience. Take some time to familiarize yourself with them, then consider how you might be able to manage them for optimum eye health.


Typically, in a young, healthy eye, the lens of the eye is perfectly clear. This allows for easy movement of the full spectrum of light into the eye, providing clear vision. In time, the lens can become cloudy, allowing less light to pass into the eye, which is called a cataract. This results in a gradual decline in the eye’s ability to see clearly. Over time, cataracts can become so severe that the person cannot see well enough to function.

There are several factors that cause this condition. The most common is exposure to ultraviolet light. This is a particular part of the spectrum of light produced by the sun, and we are exposed to it anytime that we are outdoors. It is possible to minimize the amount of UV light that enters the eye by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and by minimizing time spent in the sun. Exposure to artificial UV light in tanning beds is also very detrimental to the eye and should be avoided.

cataracts is a common eye condition in mississauga

Diabetics also experience more severe cases. The eyes suffer a number of problems because of diabetes, and cataracts are one of the most common ones. Injuries to the eye, even very minor ones, will also contribute to their development. Finally, the long-term use of steroid drugs as treatment for other medical conditions is known to be a contributing factor.

Other times, the common eye condition is simply a result of age. The passage of time allows the lens to become cloudy no matter what is done to prevent problems. Regular eye exams will reveal and track the progression of the condition. At some point, surgery may be necessary to remove the cataract and replace it with an artificial lens implant.


glaucoma is a common eye condition in mississauga

The eye contains a substance called aqueous humor. This is a liquid that helps keep the eye working properly. In order to maintain the correct pressure inside the eye, aqueous humor moves in and out through a meshlike membrane. In some people, this membrane can become clogged, forcing the humor to remain in the eye and increasing the pressure there (known as intraocular pressure). This can cause damage to the optic nerve, which is the main route for the signal to pass from the retina to the brain. This condition is known as glaucoma.

Eye Pressure

In some cases, this inability to regulate intraocular eye pressure is congenital. It can also be more common amongst people of certain heritage.  In other people, it is a result of injuries, prolonged use of steroid medications, age, diabetes, amongst other factors.

Even though the intraocular pressure may fall within the normal measurements, it can still be too much for that particular individual, so other tests must be done to determine the health of the optic nerve.

It is important to note that although the vision loss caused by glaucoma is irreversible, the condition can be treated if detected through routine measurements of intraocular pressure and other tests such as visual field testing and retinal imaging/ultrasounds.


Located somewhere near the center of the retina is an area of very dense optical cells. This area is known as the macula, and it functions like a high-definition camera, capturing the clearest detail, the greatest range of colors, and sharpest images that the person sees.

A variety of factors can begin to damage this specialized area and interfere with the person’s ability to see clearly, particularly in the central part of the field of vision. This condition is known as macular degeneration and it can create such an impediment to eyesight that it proves almost debilitating.

Common Cause

Age is the most common cause of the condition, but environmental and health variables can play a role as well. Smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and high cholesterol are all major factors in the development of the condition. Obesity and the consumption of high-fat foods will also accelerate the development of macular degeneration.

macular degeneration is a common eye condition in mississauga

Healthy habits will eliminate many of these factors, lowering the risk of developing the condition. This will also slow the progression of the condition once it has begun. Dietary supplements can contribute to a treatment plan as well.


computer vision syndrome is a common eye condition in mississaugaComputer vision syndrome cvs diagnosis and keyboard.

Technology is a common cause of many eye problems, especially those related to eye strain. One common condition is computer vision syndrome (CVS). This is a condition that is a result of long hours spent looking at a computer screen, particularly one with a blue light display.

CVS is relatively easy to manage. The first step is to get enough sleep. The strain caused by hours of looking at a monitor will ease overnight if the person gets adequate rest.

Take a break every 20 minutes

Another important method of managing the condition is to follow the 20-20-20 rule when working long hours at a computer. It simply involves taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. The changing position of the focal muscles helps them relax, decreasing the strain and discomfort caused by this modern-world condition.


One of the most common causes of discomfort in the eye is a lack of moisture. Dry eyes itch and burn, making it very difficult to read, work, or drive without constantly blinking. Many of us suffer these symptoms as a result of dry weather or other conditions, but certain individuals are affected so constantly that it constitutes a medical condition known as dry eye syndrome.

Dry eyes

Dry eyes are more than just uncomfortable. They can also lead to damage to the cornea. A lack of adequate tear production causes the eyelid to drag or stick to the cornea, pulling away cells from its surface and creating further irritation. The use of artificial tears can provide some relief, but the better approach is to address the underlying causes of dry eyes and seek a long-term solution.

Dry Eye Syndrome is a common eye condition in mississauga

The causes of this condition are varied, but many of them are easy to manage or even eliminate. The use of contact lenses is a common cause of dry eyes, as is excessive computer use. Conditions like Sjogren syndrome, vitamin A deficiency, and even pregnancy can also lead to issues with dry eyes. Persons diagnosed with an ongoing problem of dry eyes should focus on reducing the controllable risk factors and to discuss treatment options with their optometrist.


lack of tear production, chronic inflammation of the eyelid are common eye conditions

In addition to the lack of tear production, other factors can cause issues with the surface of the eye. The most common source of these problems is the eyelid itself. When a prolonged condition involving the eyelid has developed, there can be considerable damage to the cornea as well as significant discomfort. This is known as blepharitis.

Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation of the eyelid can create a number of symptoms. Most frequently seen at the edge of the eyelid symptoms include watery, red, or swollen eyes as the body attempts to soothe the area with additional tear production. The eyelids themselves may also become swollen and red. There may be a gritty sensation in the eyelids. Eyelashes may begin to grow in an abnormal direction as a result of the swelling at their base, and bacteria buildup in this area can even cause loss of eyelashes.

In addition to the lack of tear production, other factors can cause issues with the surface of the eye. The most common source of these problems is the eyelid itself. When a prolonged condition involving the eyelid has developed, there can be considerable damage to the cornea as well as significant discomfort. This is known as blepharitis.

Chronic inflammation of the eyelid can create a number of symptoms. Most frequently seen at the edge of the eyelid where the lashes grow, symptoms include watery, red, or swollen eyes as the body attempts to soothe the area with additional tear production. The eyelids themselves may also become swollen and red. There may be a gritty sensation in the eyelids. Eyelashes may begin to grow in an abnormal direction as a result of the swelling at their base, and bacteria buildup in this area can even cause loss of eyelashes.

A person with blepharitis may blink very frequently and have an unusual sensitivity to light. This is a result of the rapid production of tears that begins with exposure to light. When swollen tear glands begin to produce extra tears, pain develops.


Normal vision requires the coordinated performance of both eyes. If there is any deficiency in the operation of one eye, the person’s eyesight will suffer. Depth perception, peripheral vision, and other capabilities will decline if one eye is not functioning as well as the other one.

Lazy eye

This is a condition called amblyopia. It is often referred to as “lazy eye”, and that is a simple way to describe what is happening. Instead of both eyes providing reliable signals to the brain at all times, one eye falls behind. This forces the brain to rely more heavily on the good eye, which can contribute to the further decline of the bad eye.

Treatment of amblyopia or lazy eye is effective if detected early. Amblyopia typically develops during childhood, but it can only be accurately diagnosed if the child is receiving regular eye exams.

lazy eye - Amblyopia is a common eye condition in mississauga
amblyopia is a common eye condition in mississauga. This is also known as lazy eye

Once amblyopia or lazy eye has been identified, there are several possible courses of action. Glasses are often enough to correct a lazy eye, provided the child uses them consistently and correctly.

Common treatments

One other strategy that is commonly seen is simply to use a patch over the good eye. This forces the deficient eye to do more of the work, or more accurately, forces the brain to rely on it. Over time, examinations can reveal that the deficient eye has begun to catch up with the normal eye, and the intervention can be discontinued. Another common treatment is the use of atropine in the better eye.

Again, it is critical for every child to have regular eye exams from a young age so that conditions like amblyopia can be detected early. This will prevent the condition from becoming permanent; even with a proper diagnosis in adulthood, a lazy eye is likely untreatable.


Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)

Proper function of the retina is key to sending adequate visual signals to the brain. One area where this process can fail is in the vitreous membrane. This is the gel-like material that fills the space between the lens and the retina. It should fill the eye completely, but with old age, it can begin to shrink.

As the vitreous membrane detaches from the retina, it becomes more difficult for the eye to function properly. Persons experiencing PVD may report seeing flashes of light, a sudden increase in the number of floaters (which appear in the field of vision as hair-like structures drifting through the person’s view), or an accumulation of extra floaters just to the side of the field of vision.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)

Many people experience some degree of posterior vitreous detachment PVD in their older years. Often the symptoms will go away rather quickly, but in other cases the condition is much more serious. In this situation, the retina is in danger of detaching, which can lead to blindness in the affected eye.

Any of these symptoms warrant a visit to the optometrist. While retinal detachment can occur shortly after an acute occurrence of posterior vitreous detachment PVD, in other cases it could be weeks or months before this catastrophic condition develops. The sooner the patient visits an optometrist, the more that can be done to diagnose a PVD before it escalates to the point of causing detachment of the retina.


The retina is the “movie screen” of the eye where images are generated from the light shining through the lens. Cells known as rods and cones are located all over the retina, and they gather information about the image that is then transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain. The links between the retina and the optic nerve are critical for normal eyesight.

When the retina begins to separate from the layers beneath it, this transmission of information ceases. This is a condition known as retinal detachment or a detached retina. It is a serious condition that will cause permanent blindness if not treated immediately. With proper treatment, many persons who experience a detachment can make a full recovery.

Detached Retina - Mississauga

Symptoms of a detachment are distinctive. They include bright flashes of light, a sudden onset of additional floaters, dark shadows in the field of vision, and a distorted perception of straight lines into curved ones. Any such symptoms should be investigated by a doctor immediately to prevent permanent damage.

A number of factors can cause the retina to detach. Severe myopia, smoking, cataract surgery, diabetic retinopathy, and extreme exertion such as weightlifting can all create strain that detaches the retina. Any condition that causes low intraocular pressure may also increase the likelihood of a detachment, as can a variety of conditions such as Ehlers Danlos syndrome. There is some evidence of a genetic component to the increased likelihood of suffering a detachment. Various forms of cancer and eclampsia during pregnancy also increase the odds of a detachment of the retina.


near sightedness eye conditions mississauga

Nearsightedness (Myopia)

One very common vision condition is myopia. Known by other names include short-sightedness and nearsightedness  is often diagnosed during early childhood.

Myopia is in the category of conditions known as a refractive error, which simply means that the space available for the eye to focus is insufficient. Sometimes it is caused by a lens that is too powerful, but more frequently the condition is a result of the eye being too long. An eye examination can diagnose the condition and lead to a prescription for corrective glasses or contact lenses that will improve the person’s eyesight by correcting the focal distance issue.

A variety of factors can lead to myopia. A lack of outdoor activity is thought to play a part because the person does not exercise the eye muscles by focusing on objects at a distance. By the same factor, many hours of reading or other close activities can condition the eyes to operate normally only at those close distances.

Beyond behavioral and environmental factors, the most common cause of myopia is genetics. Nearsighted parents often have nearsighted children, just as they may pass on other traits. This can assist in early diagnosis because parents often recognize the child’s symptoms as their own childhood experiences.

Thankfully, many therapies are available to help delay the progression of myopia, such as specialty glasses, contact lenses, and drops.  This is important as myopia, especially when it is of a moderate to high level, can lead to an increased risk of retinal detachment, glaucoma, and maculopathy.


Another refractive area comes from the opposite end of the scale. Whereas a nearsighted person focuses best on objects that are closer, a farsighted person sees more clearly at a distance. While this characteristic of the condition is the same as in a presbyopic person, the conditions are technically different. Farsighted, or hyperopic, persons have the condition from an early age, while a presbyopic condition develops with age.

Causes of farsightedness

Because the ability of the eye to focus is dictated by a number of different parts of the eye, there are several possible causes of farsightedness. For some people, it is a result of a lens that is too flat. For others, the eye is not long enough, making the focal point of the image fall further back than the retina. In some cases, the lens can be improperly aligned due to an injury of some type.


Untreated hyperopia can create a number of issues. The most common is eyestrain. Children may find that their eyes or head hurt when they read or if they sit near the front of the classroom. The pain will ease when they are outdoors. These are the most common signals of hyperopia and should lead to a trip to the optometrist. Once again, regular eye exams, particularly in children, increase the odds of early detection that can lead to a better course of management.



Proper focusing of light is key to good vision. A camera will not produce a sharp photograph without being properly focused. Similarly the eye cannot send a sharp signal to the brain if the retina does not receive one as the light passes through the cornea and then through the lens.

In some people, the cornea interferes with the sharpness of the images sent through the lens and onto the retina.  A simple way to think of it is that in a patient with astigmatism, the cornea is not round, but shaped more like a football. This is a condition known as astigmatism.

Astigmatism can develop during childhood and thus it can be difficult to distinguish from other focus issues without an optometrist’s diagnosis as the patient may perceive this as just normal.  With no way to know what normal vision is, the person cannot compare his or her symptoms with those of this condition. The most common symptoms include headache and eyestrain, which are both common with many other conditions. Difficulty seeing while driving at night is a particularly unique symptom. The bright headlights shining directly into the person’s eyes make the lack of focus particularly noticeable and may be the first reason he or she seeks medical advice.

Dramatically improved vision

Fortunately, this condition is treatable, but an accurate diagnosis is required. Regular visits to an optometrist will detect astigmatism as early as possible.  Many patients are able to achieve dramatically improved vision by using glasses or contact lenses. Surgery is also an option.

The condition has no known external factors, and while it is generally believed to be at least partly genetic. Studies of identical twins have found the condition present in one and not in the other. This tells us that any family history of the condition does not necessarily mean that a later generation will develop it. It is more important to understand the symptoms and take action when they develop than to assume that we will  have the condition just because our parents did.



As we age, many parts of our bodies lose their flexibility. Our muscles, joints, and skin become less tolerant of movement, and our range of motion declines. The same is true of our eyes. They simply become more rigid and cannot stretch far enough to focus the way they once did. We find ourselves holding items further away from our eyes in order to focus.

As we age

The ability of the eyes to focus depends heavily on the flexibility of the lens. Many people begin to have trouble focusing on close objects as they approach middle age.  Although, they may continue to have excellent eyesight at a distance. This condition is known as presbyopia.

common eye conditions mississauga

The earliest symptoms include the inability to focus at short distances, and headaches from the strain of forcing the eyes to focus. The condition is easily treated with corrective lenses. A visit to your optometrist will reveal the severity of your presbyopia and help determine the strength of magnification you will need.

Knowledge is key

Knowledge is key to maintaining all aspects of your health, and your eyesight is no different. Stay alert to the signs, symptoms, and causes of these eye conditions so that you can take action when necessary. Make sure you get regular examinations of your vision just as you do any other body system. The eye health you’ll be able to maintain will  give you decades of worry-free function from your eyes.