Glossary of Common Eye Conditions


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(aka “lazy eye”) Reduced vision in an eye that has not received adequate use during early childhood. Often associated with crosses eye or asymmetric refractive errors, such as farsightedness.

Allergy Eyes

(or allergic conjunctivitis) Itching is the hallmark of this condition caused by seasonal or non-seasonal allergens getting into the eyes and causing release of histamine and other inflammatory substances into the ocular surface tissue. Redness and stringy mucous discharge also can occur.


A condition where the eyelid margins become infected and inflamed, causing irritation, fluctuation of vision, itching and redness.


A gradual clouding and hardening of the crystalline lens over time causing blurred vision, glare and difficulty with daily activities. Cataracts are mostly age related, but can occur congenitally, from trauma or with diabetes. Cataracts typically progress slowly to cause vision loss and are potentially blinding if untreated. The condition usually affects both eyes, but almost always one eye is affected earlier then another.

Computer Vision Syndrome

a syndrome of visual fatigue, irritation, dryness, blurring and headache related to prolonged use of video display terminals. Often improved with proper ergonomics, appropriate sized display, task oriented eyewear, correction of glare and enhanced lubrication of the eye surface.


Commonly called “pink eye”. This condition is caused by viral or bacterial infection. Eyes can become red, itchy and usually produce a discharge resulting in the eyes being stuck together upon awakening (“mattering”).

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes damages the small blood vessels in the retina over time leading to hemorrhage, leakage of fluid, swelling, loss of blood flow, and growth of problem causing new blood vessels. Laser treatment is often required to eliminate swelling or cause regression of this new blood vessel growth. Leading cause of blindness in middle aged Americans.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Is a lack of adequate lubrication of the eye to maintain a healthy ocular surface and prevent symptoms. Very common as we age and can also be exacerbated by medications, systemic disease processes, blepharitis, other ocular surface conditions, menopause, and environmental factors. More on dry eyes.


The large space between the lens and the retina is the vitreous cavity, filled with a gel like substance (“vitreous”) that changes over time into a more liquid like material. As this occurs, some of the gel thickens and becomes visible as dots, strings, lines, and cloud-like areas in the vision.


Is optic nerve damage secondary to elevated pressure inside the eye. The most common form, called primary open angle glaucoma, is unassociated with other conditions, increases in frequency with age and does tend to run in families. If left untreated there is a slow progressive loss of the peripheral vision over many years followed by loss of central vision and blindness. Second leading cause of blindness in the world.


Inflammation of the iris, causes pain, redness and light sensitivity. Most cases are not found to have a secondary cause and are successfully treated with steroid drops. Multiple systemic conditions can be associated with iritis, so lab testing is often performed to rule these out. Trauma and eye surgery are common secondary causes also.

Macular Degeneration

A condition where central vision begins to decline due to the degeneration of the macula (central retinal area where light is focused– only portion of retina with fine detail/reading vision). Age is the main risk factor, with smoking a known increased risk. Studies show certain vitamin and mineral supplements lower risk. Leading cause of blindness in Americans over age 65.

Retinal Detachment

A condition caused by separation of the retina, which can lead to blindness if not treated immediately. Symptoms may include a sudden onset of flashes, floaters, or a veil or curtain that appears to be pulled over vision. A true ocular emergency.


A deviation of the eyes from being perfectly straight (aligned). This can take the form of in-turning (“crossed eyes”), out-turning (“lazy eye” / “wall eyed”), or up or down-turned. Most cases are either present at birth or develop within the first few years of life. Often associated with amblyopia, and often requires eye muscle surgery, patching or glasses to achieve the best outcome. Tends to run in families.