The information on this page is not intended as a diagnosis of your problem, but rather as a helpful guide. Please see your eye doctor for diagnosis and treatment if you suspect you have an eye or vision problem.
Poor Tear Production
Patients who have been diagnosed with poor tear production can be treated in a variety of ways. For patients with relatively mild dry eyes, the use of artificial tears can often relieve their symptoms. In addition to over-the-counter treatments, your doctor may suggest occluding the tear drainage canals, in order to allow the tears you produce to linger on your eye longer instead of being drained away. For those patients who have moderate to severe dry eyes associated with poor tear production there are drops that can be prescribed, which has been shown to help restore tear production. Speak with your doctor about which treatment, or combination of treatments, is right for you.
Evaporative Dry Eye
Patients with evaporative dry eye disease often have adequate tear production; however, the layer of oil that sits atop of the liquid layer may be lacking or disrupted. It is this fine layer of oil that prevents the liquid component of your tears from evaporating. Several causes that may contribute to evaporative eye disease are an incomplete blink, and eyelid or eyelash infection, or meibomian gland dysfunction to name a few.
Your doctor may also suggest lid exercise to make sure you are closing your eyes completely, allowing the oily layer of the tears to be distributed equally throughout your eye. If there is an infection, antibiotics and/or steroids, or anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed. Non ethyl ester formulated omega-3 supplements can offer relief as well.
Computer Vision Syndrome
Also known as digital eye strain, describes a group of eye and vision related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet and cell phone use (digital screens). To help alleviate digital eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
The most common symptoms associated with CVS or digital eye strain are:
Neck and shoulder pain.
These symptoms may be caused by:
Glare on a digital screen.
Improper viewing distances.
Poor sitting posture.
Uncorrected vision problems.
A combination of these factors.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids in which the eyelids become red, irritated and itchy with dandruff-like scales that form on the eyelashes or the base of the lashes. It is a common eye disorder caused by either bacteria or a skin condition, such as dandruff of the scalp or rosacea. There are more than one type of blepharitis depending on the location and cause. Your doctor will suggest certain treatments that target and help alleviate your symptoms based on which type of blepharitis you have.
Often referred as “pink eye”, conjunctivitis is the swelling or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Causes may or may not be infectious.
A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending upon its size and location, it can interfere with normal vision. Cataract treatment is based on the level of visual impairment it causes. If a cataract minimally affects vision, or not at all, no treatment may be needed. Patients may be advised to monitor for increased visual symptoms and follow a regular check-up schedule.
In some cases, changing the eyeglass prescription may provide temporary vision improvement. In addition, anti-glare coatings on eyeglass lenses can help reduce glare for night driving. Increasing the amount of light used when reading may be beneficial. Sun protection is essential.
When a cataract progresses to the point that it affects a person's ability to do normal everyday tasks, surgery may be needed. Cataract surgery involves removing the lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens. The artificial lens requires no care and can significantly improve vision. Once a cataract is removed, it cannot grow back. A referral to a cataract surgeon will be sent if necessary.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
A condition in which a child’s visual system gets “stuck” at a fuzzy level due to their brain not “learning” what a sharp image should look like at a young age. There can be various causes for amblyopia, such as strabismus (eye misalignment), refractive errors (need for glasses), or opacities in the front or back part of the eye. The most common cause is when one eye has a much different glasses prescription than the other eye.
A condition in which the eye is shaped like an oval (football) rather than a sphere (basketball). Objects are seen as blurred and distorted. Astigmatism is easily treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
A condition in which distant objects are seen more clearly than near objects. Hyperopia can blur one’s vision, but it is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
A condition in which near objects are seen more clearly than distant objects. Myopia can blur distance vision and is easily treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process of the eye. The shape of the crystalline lens of your eye changes. These changes make it difficult to focus on near objects. It is not a disease, and it cannot be prevented. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in the early to mid-40s. It is easily correctable with glasses or contacts.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness. Vision loss happens very gradually and many people do not even notice the vision loss until the disease is a more advanced stage because it usually occurs peripherally first. The incidence of glaucoma increases with age.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Increased intraocular pressure (eye pressure) caused by a build-up of fluid in the eye is one of the main causes of optic nerve damage. This fluid (aqueous humor) usually exits the eye through a drainage system. But, when this drainage system fails to work properly, the fluid builds up in the eye, causing increased pressure.
Risk factors include:
Appearance of the optic nerve
Patients usually do not experience symptoms and it may take years for the glaucoma to develop. Some cases, referral to a glaucoma specialist is warranted.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes) that causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina in the eye.
With diabetes, the body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood sugar levels create changes in the veins, arteries and capillaries that carry blood throughout the body. This includes the tiny blood vessels in the retina. Individuals who have had diabetes for a long time and/or have uncontrolled spikes in blood sugar are more prone to developing diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness in adults. In most cases, vision loss from diabetes can be prevented or restored if caught in time. Patients require routine examination. Diabetic retinopathy often has no noticeable symptoms until it is too late to reverse or correct the damage done to the eye. Patients with diabetes should be examined at least once a year. Patients with diabetic eye disease may need a referral to the retinal specialist for further treatment and evaluation.
Flashes and Floaters
Floaters are small, semi-transparent or cloudy particles within the vitreous (clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of the eye). The floaters can be of various shapes and sizes, threadlike strands or cobwebs. Flashes of light occur when that jelly like fluid shrinks and shrivels and starts to detach from the retina. Most of the time the jelly detaches safely but sometimes that detachment can cause holes or tears in the retina which can lead to a retinal detachment. Only way to know is to get a thorough dilated fundus exam. Any vitreal-retinal issues, a referral will be made to the retinal specialist.
Keratoconus is a disease that creates a thinning of the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. The cornea will progressively bulge into a cone-like shape. The change in the corneal shape can have a dramatic impact on one's vision. In more severe cases, normal everyday activities such as driving and reading can be difficult to perform.
The disease is normally treated with rigid/speciality contact lenses. A proper lens fit is crucial to obtain adequate vision and wearing comfort. Poorly fitted or outdated contact lenses can be uncomfortable and lead to additional complications like corneal abrasions, scarring or infection.
A referral will be made to the corneal specialist for further eval and surgical treatment.
Retinal detachment is a tearing or separation of the retina (the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye) from the underlying tissue, possibly resulting in vision loss. This is an emergency and referral to the correct clinic will be made.
Flashes of light (photopsia) or sudden increase of photopsia.
Shadow of a curtain moving across vision and loss of central vision.
Increase of floaters or spots.
Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)
Macular degeneration is a chronic eye condition that involves the loss of central vision. This condition typically affects individuals over the age of 50.
What Causes Age Related Macular Degeneration?
In macular degeneration, the central part of the retina, also known as the macula, deteriorates, causing loss of central vision. The macula is the part of the retina that allows us to see color and detail. The loss of central vision affects many daily activities including reading, driving and watching TV.
Risk Factors for ARMD May Include:
Drug side effects
High blood pressure
In some cases referral to the retinal specialist is required for further treatment and evaluation.
Alberta Optometric Association
Canadian Association of Optometrists
American Optometric Association
American Academy of Optometry