Glossary of Common Eye Problems

Glossary of Common Problems Some eye conditions are temporary and resolve themselves; others are long-term conditions that need to be managed with the help of your eye doctor. Below is an alphabetical list of common eye problems that you’ll hear from your eye doctor. If you have questions or concerns about your eyes, contact your eye care provider.

Problems with your Eyes


Auras often precede or accompany migraine headaches. They may appear as light, wavy lines, and other distortions. They are temporary and may exist in one eye or both.

Bloodshot eyes

Bloodshot eyes also called red-eye, might be caused by allergies, infection, dry eye, broken blood vessels, or inflammation in the eye. If accompanied by pain or discharge, a visit to the eye Dr. is necessary.

Blurry vision

Most commonly caused by refractive error or the need for glasses or contacts. Blurry vision that lasts a short time is typically caused by dry eye. Overuse of computers or other electronic devices can fatigue the eyes, temporarily limiting their ability to focus.

Computer vision syndrome

Staring at a computer tablet and smartphone reduces the blink rate and engages the eye muscles which can cause eyestrain, headaches, blurry vision, and dry eyes (also called digital eye strain). Taking frequent breaks and using artificial tears every 20 min can help avoid discomfort.

Corneal abrasions

A scratch to the outer layer of the cornea can be caused by rubbing the eye or a foreign body like sand or dirt. If you feel a foreign body sensation with redness and light sensitivity, rinse the eye with saline or water. Contact your eye Dr.

Double vision

Double vision (also called diplopia) happens when the eyes are registering separate images of the same object, rather than a single image. It can be temporary, resulting from an injury or fatigue, or more serious. It should always be checked out by a professional. If double vision is accompanied by numbness, weakness, speech and language problems, vertigo, or trouble keeping your balance, contact your Primary care doctor or report to the ER.

Eye Conditions Based on Infection or Inflammation

Some eye problems stem from bacterial or viral infections, which cause inflammation in various parts of the eye. If there is a particular part of your eye that seems swollen, sore, or otherwise irritated and it doesn’t go away after a day or two, check with your doctor.


Bacteria that normally live on the skin of the eyelids can overgrow. This can cause redness, irritation, itching, and dandruff-like residue on the eyelids. Good cleaning of the eyelashes and lids, as well as a warm compress, can help avoid flare-ups.


Your conjunctiva lines the eyelid and covers the white part of your eye. When it becomes inflamed or infected, the blood vessels in your eye are easier to see, giving your eye a pink appearance. This is commonly referred to as pink eye. There are three common causes, bacterial, viral, or allergic. Only a doctor can determine the proper treatment.


Bacterial keratitis is an infection of the cornea. It can cause light sensitivity, vision changes, swelling, and pain. Viral keratitis can be caused by either the herpes simplex or herpes zoster viruses. Fungal keratitis (although rare) is possible if the eye has been in contact with vegetative matter such as branches, dirt, or leaves.


(Chalazion) swollen oil gland in the eyelid that is infected causing pain, swelling, redness of the lid, and sometimes discharge. A warm compress is the best treatment and must be applied several times a day.


The uvea structure in your eye contains the iris and surrounding tissue. Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea and can cause redness, pain, and blurred vision. Commonly associated with an autoimmune condition such as arthritis, sarcoid, lupus, etc.

Long-term or Permanent Eye Conditions

Some eye conditions are inherited; others are results of disease or injury, and some are a fairly normal part of aging. If you have any chronic eye condition, make sure you keep your eye doctor apprised and follow his or her suggestions for checkups and monitoring.


The shape of the eye is rarely perfectly spherical or round. This requires corrective glasses or contact lenses to focus the light to accommodate an imperfect sphere.


The natural lens of the eye is always changing. Through time and exposure to light, the lens becomes cloudy. When this cloudy lens limits the vision, Cataract surgery can be performed to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens implant.

Color blindness

When a person is unable to tell the difference between two colors, often red and green, he or she is said to be color-blind. More men than women are affected by color vision deficiency.

Crossed eyes

When a person’s eyes point in differing directions, they are said to be “crossed.” Strabismus is generally a symptom of poor tone in the muscles surrounding the eyes. Treatment ranges from corrective eyeglasses to vision therapy or even surgery.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetes affects the small blood vessels throughout the body including the eyes. Diabetic retinopathy starts as a breakdown in the small blood vessels causing them to leak. In some cases, this leakage can cause swelling and damage to the retinal tissue causing vision changes. If not treated, these vision changes can become permanent.

Farsightedness (hyperopia) and nearsightedness (myopia)

When light focuses behind or in front of the retina the result is blurred vision. Correction for this condition is possible with eyeglasses or contact lenses, or LASIK surgery.

Drooping eyelid (Ptosis)

When one or both eyelids droop, it can limit peripheral or side vision. Most commonly caused by aging, nerve damage, weakness of the eyelid muscles, or an injury. An eyelid surgeon can evaluate to determine corrective action.

Dry eye

Dry eyes can be caused by the environment, aging, medications, abnormal lid position, or certain systemic diseases. If an individual has a prolonged inability to produce enough high-quality tears, it can result in blurred, unstable vision, discomfort or sharp pain, redness and irritation, and even tearing. Several over-the-counter artificial tears are available. Always look for moisture drops and never use eye drops for redness relief.


Small, moving dark speck out of the corner of your eye that moves when you move your eye is called a floater. Floaters are caused by bits of the shrinking vitreous gel material in your eye casting shadows on the retina. Usually, no treatment is needed. However, a sudden increase in floaters or a lightning storm of flashes lights can be more serious and needs to be evaluated by an eye doctor.


A disease of the optic nerve that has no symptoms in most cases. It is important for everyone to have periodic eye exams to evaluate for Glaucoma. Glaucoma is more common with increasing age and can be hereditary. Simple, painless glaucoma tests are part of every eye examination and involve checking the eye pressure and evaluation of the optic nerve.


This occurs when lights at night seem to be surrounded by “halos,” or smudges or blurry circles around light. Uncorrected refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism), cataracts, swelling from recent surgery, or infections are common causes.

Lazy eye

Also known as amblyopia, this condition is caused due to underdevelopment of the visual system in one eye. Depending on the cause, treatment may be possible if the condition is identified at an early age.

Macular degeneration

The macula is at the center of your retina and is responsible for 20/20 vision. If the highly specialized seeing cells in the macula become damaged, vision loss is often detected in difficulty with small print and difficulty adapting to changing lighting conditions. Treatments are advancing all the time and while there is no cure, wet macular degeneration has some treatments that are quite effective, and dry macular degeneration treatments center around nutrition and vitamin supplements.

Remember, although some eye problems are temporary, and can resolve themselves; others are long-term conditions that need to be managed with the help of your eye doctor. If you have any questions about your vision or potential eye problems, contact us today.

Schedule an appointment online

Book Your Next Appointment Entirely Online.
Find An Appointment That Works For You!

Schedule Online