Is your vision at risk? The straight facts about eye disease

If you were hesitant to check out this article, you aren’t alone—no one wants to think about the threat of eye disease. But before we get to the nitty-gritty details, here’s a word of encouragement: all of these diseases are treatable if you catch them early.

So let’s get down to business—here are the four most common eye diseases, their primary symptoms, and treatment options.


Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure in the eye increases so much that it damages the optic nerve behind the eye, which can lead to visual impairment. “Without treatment, glaucoma can result in blindness in as little as three years,” explains Michael Judkins, OD, from Promontory Family Vision in Ogden, Utah.

    Symptom: Loss of peripheral vision, usually detected only after damage occurs.
    Treatment: Usually prescription eye drops or other prescription medicine.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy is a disease that damages the blood vessels in the retina. “As replacement blood vessels form to compensate for the damaged ones, vision loss becomes a larger threat,” explains Dr. Judkins. A VSP doctor can detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy before vision loss occurs and can help you and your primary care doctor better manage your diabetes.

    Symptom: No noticeable symptoms until some damage has already occurred.
    Treatment: No known cure, though laser surgery can help in serious cases.


A cataract is a cloudy film that develops on the lens of the eye, causing vision impairment. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. Age is the most common factor in their development, but heredity can be another cause. “Cataracts are a very common problem that can usually be addressed with a routine surgical procedure,” says Dr. Judkins.

    Symptom: Increasingly blurry vision.
    Treatment: Surgery; replacement of clouded lens with plastic intraocular lens.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is a disruption of the macula, a small portion of the retina, which controls most of our fine-tuned viewing capabilities, such as reading or knitting. With age, unwanted blood vessels or grainy deposits called drusen can collect in and around the macula, causing vision damage.

    Symptoms: Blurred vision, dark spots in center of vision field.
    Treatment: Eye vitamins, certain injections, or laser surgery in serious cases.

Whew! Aren’t you glad that’s over? Again, annual eye exams by your VSP doctor will help greatly in detecting these diseases and other eye conditions. Be responsible, be aware, and be there for your next eye exam!

The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only. Please consult your eyecare doctor or physician for actual advice.
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