Know the Warning Signs of an Eye Emergency to Prevent Vision Loss
While some vision loss with age is basically inevitable, there are many eye conditions that can be minimized or even prevented with good nutrition, good eye habits and, of course, regular visits to the eye doctor. Even if you have no symptoms, you should be seeing your eye doctor at least once every 2 years; the early stages of several serious eye diseases have no noticeable symptoms and can only be caught during an exam. You should also see your eye doctor as soon as possible if you experience any changes in your vision. Many problems can start suddenly and progress rapidly to permanent blindness.
But how do you know the difference between a small problem and an eye emergency? Here are some warning signs that you should watch out for.
The sudden appearance of many spots or floaters in the field of vision
Seeing an occasional spot or floater in your visual field is not uncommon, but a sudden shower of them can be a sign of a retinal tear or retinal detachment. This is a medical emergency that must be taken care of immediately. You may have only hours to save your sight.
A dark curtain that seems to drape over the field of vision
This is another symptom that could signal retinal detachment. Seek medical attention immediately. You may have only hours to save your sight.
Sudden, intense eye pain and redness accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting
These are symptoms of an acute attack of narrow angle glaucoma, which can result in permanent damage to the optic nerve and permanent vision loss if not treated immediately.
A gradual or a sudden narrowing your visual field
If you find yourself losing your peripheral vision, only able to see what's straight ahead and not stuff to the sides, you may have glaucoma. This is a serious disease which causes progressive, permanent vision loss without treatment.
Double vision, double images or ghost images
These symptoms could be a sign of several eye diseases, or even side effects from some procedures, like LASIK surgery. However, they could also be a sign of a serious medical emergency, such as a stroke, especially if the onset is sudden and there's no obvious explanation. In this case, you should seek medical attention immediately.
A gradual loss of central vision which may or may not include seeing wavy lines instead of straight lines
This can be caused by macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness among older Americans. If you seek treatment ASAP, you may be able to prevent any further loss of vision and possibly even regain some.
This could be a sign of multiple eye diseases, some of which are very serious. If you are diabetic, blind spots could that appear in the field of vision, especially with floaters or unexplained blurred vision, could mean diabetic retinopathy. You must see your eye doctor as soon as possible to protect your vision.
Sudden blurry vision in one eye
This symptom could mean you've developed a macular hole, especially if straight lines appear wavy to the affected eye. This is a serious condition which requires prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent permanent vision loss.
Cloudy or blurred vision, halos seen around light sources at night and the loss of bright color vision
These symptoms are signs of cataracts, a very common condition in older people. If you believe you might be developing cataracts, you should see your doctor as soon as possible to prevent treatment options. Most likely, you will eventually need surgery to remove the cataracts, but there may be things you can do in the meantime to slow the progression of the disease, such as diet and lifestyle changes.
Even if the symptoms seem minor, you should always see your eye doctor as soon as possible after noticing any changes in your vision. Many eye problems result in irreversible vision loss if left untreated, so better safe than sorry.
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