What Are the 4 Most Common Eye Problems?

Medically Reviewed on 6/2/2022
eye health
The four most common eye problems include cataracts, diabetes-related retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

An eye problem could hit anytime. Some are minor issues that could go away on their own or can be easily treated at home or with minimum intervention, whereas some are serious conditions that needed a proper specialist’s care.

Learn four of the most common eye problems below.

4 most common eye problems

  1. Cataracts
    • A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens that can occur at any age because of various causes.
    • It can be present at birth and may develop in one or both eyes.
    • It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
    • Surgical removal and replacement of the cloudy lens with an artificial lens are highly successful (more than 90 percent of people see better).
    • Symptoms of a cataract include:
      • Cloudy or blurry vision
      • Glare around the lights at night
      • Trouble seeing at night
      • Sensitivity to bright light
      • Changes in color vision
      • Frequent changes to an eyeglass prescription
  2. Diabetes-related retinopathy
    • Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes, characterized by progressive damage to the blood vessels of the retina and the light-sensitive tissues at the back of the eye. This is caused by long-term uncontrolled high sugar levels in the blood.
    • It is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults in the United States.
    • Treatments include a specific type of medication and surgery that addresses repairing or shrinking blood vessels in the retina.
    • Symptoms of diabetes-related retinopathy include:
      • Blurred or distorted vision
      • Color blindness or seeing faded colors
      • Poor night vision
      • Small dark spots or streaks in vision
      • Trouble reading or seeing far away objects
  3. Glaucoma
    • Glaucoma is a disease resulting from higher-than-normal fluid pressure in the eye that damages the optic nerve and affects the visual information transmission to the brain.
    • Undetected and untreated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness in one or both eyes. 
    • Glaucoma runs in families and is divided into two main categories:
      • Open-angle glaucoma: Develops slowly over a long time, and the person may not notice vision changes until the disease is very advanced (also called sneak thief of sight).
      • Closed-angle glaucoma: Happens suddenly, is painful, and causes loss of vision immediately.
    • Treatments focus on reducing eye pressure through prescription eye drops, laser therapy, and surgery.
    • Symptoms of glaucoma include:
  4. Age-related macular degeneration
    • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disorder associated with aging and results in damaging sharp and central vision (needed to see objects clearly and for common daily tasks, such as reading and driving).
    • AMD damages the macula, which is the center area of the retina that allows seeing fine details.
    • It is the leading cause of vision loss in people older than 60 years.
    • It is divided into two types:
      • Wet: Abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula (behind the retina), leading to blood and fluid leakage that eventually causes rapid central vision loss.
      • Dry: When the macula thins over time as part of the aging process, gradually blurring central vision. The dry form is more common and accounts for 70 to 90 percent of cases of AMD. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes with an early sign called drusen (tiny yellow or white deposits under the retina).
    • There is no cure, but treatment can slow the progress of the disease or prevent severe vision loss.
    • Symptoms of AMD include:
      • Blurred central vision
      • Black or dark spots in the center part of the vision field
      • Wavy or curved appearance to straight lines


Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments See Slideshow

9 other common eye problems

  1. Dry eye: It occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears, causing pain and inflammation.
  2. Eyestrain: It happens due to overuse of the eyes, such as reading for hours, working at a computer, or driving long distances.
  3. Red eyes: It could be a symptom of another eye condition, such as conjunctivitis or sun damage, from not wearing shades over the years, sleeping late at night, lack of sleep, or allergies.
  4. Night blindness: It is a symptom of nearsightedness, cataracts, keratoconus, and lack of vitamin A.
  5. Conjunctivitis or pink eye: Inflammation of the clear tissue that lines the inside surface of the eyelid and the outer coating of the eye.
  6. Sty or hordeolum: A pimple-like bump that forms an oil gland on the outer edges of the eyelids due to the accumulation of dead skin, oils, and other debris.
  7. Refractive errors: Myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances), and presbyopia (loss of the ability to focus on close objects).
  8. Amblyopia or lazy eye: The most common cause of vision impairment in children. This happens when myopia develops in one eye. The image from that affected eye is blurred, and the brain gradually learns to ignore that eye. Thus, the eye gradually grows weak.
  9. Strabismus, cross-eye, or nystagmus: It involves an imbalance in the positioning of the two eyes, causing the eyes to cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia). This problem could be present at or shortly after birth (congenital strabismus).

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Medically Reviewed on 6/2/2022
Image Source: iStock image

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Eye Disorders and Diseases. https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html

Cleveland Clinic. Common Eye Diseases and Vision Problems. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17130-eye-diseases

WebMD. Top Causes of Eye Problems. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/common-eye-problems