Common Vision Problems and Correction Options
One of the services that an ophthalmologist performs is the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems. When a person has problems seeing clearly, it often affects all aspects of their lives, from reading a computer screen to seeing road signs while driving. Not only can vision problems create frustration and embarrassment, they can also be downright dangerous to both the individual with the problem and the people around them. For this reason, certain careers (such as an airplane pilot or a firefighter) require the participant to have 20/20 (or clear) vision.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 285 million people worldwide have some type of visual impairment, 80 percent of which can be prevented or cured. A large portion of this number includes common vision errors that can be treated with prescription lenses or a vision correction procedure. The ophthalmologists included in our directory have a proven track record with both peers and patients, earning them a reputation as the most experienced and skilled eye doctors in the field of ophthalmology. Read on to learn more about the vision problems these eye doctors diagnose, and the vision correction options they offer to their patients.
Common Vision Problems
When a person has less than 20/20 vision in one or both eyes, they have what is called a refractive error. This means that the light entering the eye does not bend, or refract, when it passes through the cornea and reaches the retina. A refractive error in one or both eyes is what causes vision problems, which are characterized by blurry near or distance vision, or both. The following vision conditions occur as a result of refractive errors.
Myopia, what is commonly known as “nearsightedness,” is a refractive error that causes distance vision to be blurry or unclear. This error occurs as a result of the eye being too long, or the cornea overly curved, which interferes with the cornea’s ability to refract light rays onto the retina. As a result, the eye is unable to focus properly and vision is impaired. People with myopia typically have problems seeing road signs, movie screens and other objects in the distance. A hereditary condition, myopia is usually apparent in childhood and will either remain unchanged or worsen with age.
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a refractive error that results in blurry near vision. The cause of this error is either that the eye itself is too short in length, the cornea is irregularly shaped or a combination of the two factors. One or both of these factors contribute to light rays focusing on a point behind the retina, instead of focusing on the retina itself, so that images in the near distance appear blurry. People with hyperopia have problems with tasks that involve close-up vision, such as reading a book or a computer screen. Hyperopia is hereditary, and is usually present at birth. The aging process further develops this condition, so that focusing becomes more difficult as a person gets older.
Astigmatism is a refractive error that often occurs along with hyperopia or myopia. This refractive error can experience vision problems with up-close vision, distance vision or both. There are different types of astigmatism, including regular, irregular and mixed. Regular astigmatism occurs when the cornea is curved more in one direction than the other. Irregular astigmatism occurs when the cornea curves in multiple directions, instead of evenly across the surface of the eye. Mixed astigmatism occurs when the eye’s curvature causes one of its meridians (the vertical or horizontal half of the eye) to become hyperopic, and the other myopic. All types of astigmatism cause the surface of the cornea to have an irregular shape, preventing the light rays entering the eye from converging properly onto the retina. Astigmatism is a vision condition that is most often hereditary, though it may also be caused by an eye injury, eye disease or complications from eye surgery.
Presbyopia, or age-related vision loss, typically begins around the age of 40, causing a person to have difficulty reading and seeing things clearly up-close. This refractive error is the result of the hardening of the eye lens, which gradually becomes thicker during the aging process. When the eye lens loses its elasticity and starts to harden, it can no longer change shape and focus properly. People with presbyopia will notice that their near vision becomes increasingly blurred as they age. Most people with presbyopia need reading glasses to read or perform work tasks that require precise near vision.
Diagnosing Vision Problems
Refractive errors are diagnosed through a comprehensive dilated eye exam performed by an eye care professional.
The eye exam consists of tests that measure eye health, visual acuity, how your eyes respond to light and how your eyes work together. These tests are used to diagnose refractive errors and determine an accurate prescription for corrective lenses, if needed.
Correcting Vision Problems
Once it is determined that vision problems are present, there are many ways (both temporary and more long-term) to correct them and achieve clearer vision.
Corrective lenses include prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Both types of corrective lenses are used to correct refractive errors, including myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia.
Refractive surgery, or vision correction surgery, is used to correct common refractive errors (including myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia) to reduce or eliminate dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The following are the most common refractive surgeries performed by the ophthalmologists included in our list of eye care providers.
LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is the most commonly performed refractive surgery. The procedure involves creating a small incision in the cornea with a blade or a laser, and then reshaping the cornea so that it refracts light properly, resulting in clearer vision. LASIK surgery may also be used in tandem with wavefront technology, which uses computer imaging to provide precise measurements of the eye’s structure in order to guide the surgeon during surgery. This LASIK surgical method is often called “wavefront” or “custom” LASIK.
LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis) surgery involves lifting the outer layer of the cornea, using a fine blade along with an alcohol solution, and then using a layer to reshape the cornea so that it refracts light properly.
EpiLasik is a procedure that involves separating a thin top layer from the cornea and then reshaping the cornea so that it refracts light correctly. A soft contact lens is temporarily used during the healing process.
PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy) is a laser eye surgery that reshapes the cornea by delivering a beam of ultraviolet laser light onto the surface of the cornea.
Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is a refractive surgery that removes the lens of the eye and replaces it with a silicone or plastic lens.
Phakic intraocular lens implants (PIOLs) are implanted at the edge of the cornea and behind the pupil of the eye, where they are then attached to the retina, leaving the eye lens untouched. These lens implants function much the way contact lenses do, however phakic IOLs are permanently implanted into the eyes.
Intracorneal ring segments (Intacs) are crescent-shaped plastic rings that are surgically placed at the outer edge of the cornea in order to flatten it, changing how it focuses light rays onto the retina.
Finding the Right Eye Doctor for You
Looking for a highly trained eye surgeon with a well-established reputation for providing quality patient care? All of the eye doctors in the Leading Medical Clinics of the World® network are:
- Well-respected by peers
- Positively reviewed by patients
- Ranked as a top medical practitioner in their respective fields
- In good standing with their medical board(s)
- Operating from a clinic upholding the highest level of healthcare standards
- Which vision correction options are available to me?
- What results can I expect from refractive surgery? Will I have 20/20 vision, or better?
- How many refractive surgeries have you performed?
- What are the risks and/or side effects associated with the surgery?
- How long is the recovery period after surgery?
- How much time will I have to take off of work for recovery?
- What types of limitations (driving, exercising, etc.) will I have during the recovery period?
- Can you provide me with any patient information (whether print or digital) to help me better understand my diagnosis and/or surgery?
- Do you offer evening or weekend appointments?
- What financing options are available to me as your patient?
- Will my insurance cover my surgery?
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Learn more about your vision correction options and find the best ophthalmologists in your area.