Eye Care (cont.)

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What common eye conditions usually require treatment by a doctor?

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Trauma: Blunt trauma to the eye requires immediate evaluation by an ophthalmologist. Trauma to the eye can activate bleeding into the eye from ruptured blood vessels or cause detachment of the retina. Both situations can seriously impair vision.

Abrasion: An abrasion usually occurs when a fingernail or other foreign object rubs across the cornea or conjunctiva and removes some surface tissue. There is a risk of bacterial or fungal contamination and infection following an eye abrasion.

Chemical exposure: Exposure of the eye to household cleaning solutions, fumes, or an actual chemical splash requires immediate evaluation by a physician, though initially it may be self-treated with water or another irrigant.

Keratitis: Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea that may occur alone or simultaneously with conjunctivitis. This inflammation may be infectious (resulting from a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite) or noninfectious in origin. The symptoms of keratitis include blurred vision, pain, and intolerance to light (photophobia). It may be due to contact lens overwear.

Corneal swelling: Corneal swelling, or edema, is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the cornea. The edema causes visual disturbances such as halos or starbursts around lights. Reduced vision may or may not occur. Corneal swelling can arise as a complication of contact lenses, surgical damage to the cornea, or an inherited defect. Hyperosmotic drops or ointment can be used to treat corneal swelling, but additional treatment by a physician may be necessary.

Uveitis: Uveitis is an inflammation of the eye structures in the uveal tract (the iris and other structures within the eye to which the iris attaches). Uveitis may occur without an obvious cause or may be due to trauma or an inflammatory disease present througout the body. Symptoms and signs of uveitis include eye pain, tearing, light sensitivity, and visual blurring.

Acute angle-closure glaucoma: Angle-closure glaucoma is due to an obstruction of the system that drains aqueous fluid from the inside of the eye. As a result, fluid accumulates and the pressure within the eye increases. Patients usually have a tendency to develop angle-closure glaucoma because of crowding of the anatomy of the front of their eye. It is more common in people who are hyperopic (farsighted). This disorder may be triggered after an eye exam in which the pupils have been dilated or by taking certain oral medications in the susceptible individual. Common symptoms include a severe headache or eye pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Vision is also usually blurry. Angle-closure glaucoma should be suspected if these symptoms develop after an agent is used to dilate the pupils for an eye exam. Most patients with acute angle-closure glaucoma in one eye are at risk for developing it in the other eye. The treatment of acute angle-closure glaucoma is surgical.


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