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Vision problems

Definition

There are many types of eye problems and vision disturbances, such as:

Vision loss and blindness are the most severe vision problems.

Alternative Names

Vision impairment; Impaired vision; Blurred vision

Causes

Vision changes and problems can be caused by many different conditions. Some include:

Medicines may also affect vision.

Home Care

See your health care provider if you have any problems with your eyesight.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Seek emergency care from a provider who is experienced in dealing with eye emergencies if:

Make an appointment for a complete eye exam if you have:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will check your vision, eye movements, pupils, the back of your eye (called the retina), and eye pressure. An overall medical evaluation will be done if needed.

It will be helpful to your provider if you can describe your symptoms accurately. Think about the following ahead of time:

The provider will also ask you about any eye problems you have had in the past:

The provider will also ask about your general health and family history:

The following tests may be performed:

Treatments depend on the cause. Surgery will be recommended for some conditions.

Prevention

Regular eye checkups from an ophthalmologist or optometrist are important. They should be done once a year if you are over age 65. Some experts recommend annual eye exams starting at an earlier age.

How long you go between exams is based on how long you can wait before detecting an eye problem that has no symptoms. Your provider will recommend earlier and more frequent exams if you have known eye problems or conditions that are known to cause eye problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

These important steps can prevent eye and vision problems:

References

Olitsky SE, Hug D, Smith LP. Disorders of vision. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 613.

Thurtell MJ, Tomsak RL. Vision loss. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 14.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Impaired Visual Acuity in Older Adults. U.S. Preventive Services: Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;151:37-43.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 431.


Review Date: 9/2/2014
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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