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Glossary: Eye & Vision Conditions

Eye problems can range from mild to severe; some are chronic, while others may resolve on their own, never to appear again. The conditions below will give you a basic understanding of some of these problems and their implications. The cardinal rule is if your eyes don't look good, feel good or see well, you should visit your doctor.

  • Amblyopia (Lazy Eye): Commonly called "€œlazy eye", amblyopia is the loss or lack of development of clear vision in just one eye (not due to eye health problems). Eyeglasses or contact lenses can't fully correct the reduced vision caused by lazy eye.  Amblyopia can be treated successfully if detected early enough in childhood.
  • Astigmatism: A vision condition that causes blurred vision due either to the irregular shape of the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) or sometimes the curvature of the lens inside the eye. This common vision problem can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
  • Blepharitis: An inflammation of the eyelids and eyelashes causing red, irritated, itchy eyelids and dandruff-like scales on eyelashes.
  • Cataracts: Clouding of the naturally clear lens in the eye. Cataracts are a common cause of vision loss after age 55. Surgical correction is safe and effective, and offers several new options for better vision.
  • Chalazion: A slowly developing lump that forms due to blockage and swelling of an oil gland in the eyelid.
  • CMV Retinitis: AIDS or other diseases that affect your immune system can increase your risk of serious eye problems from cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.
  • Conjunctivitis: A 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.
  • Convergence Insufficiency: An eye coordination problem in which the eyes drift outward when reading or doing close work.
  • Cornea Transplant: People with serious vision problems from an eye injury or disease affecting the front surface of the eye can often regain vision with a cornea transplant.
  • Corneal Abrasion: A cut or scratch on the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye.
  • Crossed Eyes: See strabismus
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: A condition occurring in people with diabetes. It causes progressive damage to the blood vessels of the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye. Symptoms include: blindness, blurred vision, floaters, shadows or missing areas of vision. If undetected or uncontrolled with medication, diabetes can cause serious vision loss, even blindness.
  • Dry Eye Syndrome: A condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Dry eye syndrome is a common condition, especially in women over age 40. Many treatment options are available.
  • Eye/Ocular Allergies: The abnormal response of sensitive eyes to contact with allergens and other irritating substances resulting in red and itchy eyes.
  • Farsightedness: See hyperopia
  • Floaters and Spots: The shadowy images that appear in the field of vision caused by particles floating in the fluid that fills the inside of the eye. "œFloaters"€ are usually normal and harmless. But if you notice a sudden increase in floaters or floaters accompanied by flashes of light, see your eye doctor immediately.
  • Glaucoma: A group of disorders leading to progressive damage to the optic nerve. It is characterized by loss of nerve tissue that results in vision loss. The most common type of glaucoma is caused by a gradual and painless rise of pressure inside the eye.
  • Hordeolum: An infection of an oil gland in the eyelid.
  • Hyperopia: Also called farsightedness, hyperopia is a common vision condition in which distant objects are seen clearly, but close objects are blurred. Hyperopia can cause headaches, eyestrain and trouble reading.
  • Keratitis: An inflammation or swelling of the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye.
  • Keratoconus: This eye disease causes the cornea to grow thinner and bulge forward in an irregular cone-shape. Treatment options range from gas permeable contact lenses to a cornea transplant.
  • Lazy Eye: See amblyopia
  • Macular Degeneration: An eye disease affecting the macula (the center of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye), causing loss of central vision. This age-related problem is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans age 65 and older.
  • Migraine with Aura: A type of severe headache accompanied by various visual symptoms.
  • Myopia: Also called nearsightedness, myopia is a very common vision problem in which close objects are seen clearly, but objects farther away are blurred.
  • Nearsightedness: See myopia
  • Nystagmus: A vision condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements, often resulting in reduced vision.
  • Ocular Hypertension: An increase in the pressure inside the eye above the range considered normal without any detectable changes in vision or damage to the structures of the eye.
  • Ocular Migraine: Visual disturbance similar to what can occur with a migraine but without the headache. This visual disturbance can be alarming.
  • Pingueculae: An abnormal growth of tissue on the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white of the eye.
  • Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis): This acute and contagious form of conjunctivitis is particularly common among preschoolers and school-age children.
  • Presbyopia: An age-related vision condition in which the eye gradually loses the ability to focus on near objects. If you are over age 40 and are starting to hold reading material at arm's length to see it clearly, you probably have presbyopia.
  • Pterygium: An abnormal growth of tissue on the conjunctiva (the clear membrane that covers the white of the eye) and the adjacent cornea (the clear front surface of the eye).
  • Ptosis: Ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid.
  • Retinal Detachment: A tearing or separation of the retina (the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye) from the underlying tissue. A detached retina is a medical emergency.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa: A group of inherited disorders of the retina (the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye), which cause poor night vision and a progressive loss of side vision.
  • Retinoblastoma: A rare type of eye cancer occurring in young children that develops in the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye.
  • Styes: This common problem is simply an infected lid gland. See hordeolum
  • Strabismus: A condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time.
  • Subconjunctival Hemorrhage: An accumulation of blood underneath the conjunctiva, the clear membrane covering the white part of the eye.
  • Uveitis: An inflammation of one or more of the structures that make up the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. It can cause permanent vision loss if not promptly treated.