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Common Eye Conditions

eye problems | yongecollegeoptometry | computer syndrome (CVS)

A condition caused by staring at a computer screen or other digital devices for extended periods of time. CVS causes visual discomfort resulting in headaches, blurry vision, eye strain and fatigue. We live in a society where most of us cannot avoid using the computer at work or home. As such, there are many useful remedies a person can try in order to decrease symptoms of CVS. First, it is important to have a good pair of glasses with a proper prescription as well as anti-reflective coating on your lenses to help with glare and discomfort coming from your computer screen and digital devices. Also, by staring at our screens, we tend to blink less than we would normally. This decreased blink rate can cause or exacerbate Dry Eye Syndrome, which can be treated with lubricating artificial tears, warm compresses, and occasionally prescribed medications. Another useful tip for those with CVS is the 20-20-20 rule. This rule recommends that you take a break from staring at the computer screen every 20 minutes and try to focus on something about 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. Lastly, other binocular vision disorders may also be contributing to your CVS and can be exacerbating your symptoms. These disorders can be tested during a comprehensive eye exam by your optometrist. Most of these problems can be managed with glasses, prisms or vision therapy.

Conjunctivitis is often referred to as “pink eye.” This general condition often refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva (the surface tissue that covers the white part of the eye). It can cause redness, pain, discharge, blurry vision and light sensitivity. The cause of conjunctivitis can be bacterial, viral, or allergic. Each type has slightly different signs and symptoms. Treatments vary depending on the cause of the problem, and can involve warm or cold compresses, artificial tear drops, and sometimes antibiotic or antiviral topical eye drops.

This term, also referred to as a hordeolum, looks like an eyelid bump. It is an acute infection of an eyelash follicle, and appears as an inflamed, red, sore bump on the eyelid. It is often sore and tender to the touch. A similar finding is a chalazion, which refers to a swelling in the eyelid caused by the inflammation of an eyelid gland (meibomian gland). It can occur either on the upper or lower eyelid. Bacteria from the eyelashes/eyelids can be swept into the glands when you rub your eyes. One of the most common causes of a chalazion is BLEPHARITIS- the chronic inflammation of the eyelids, most commonly seen in individuals over the age of 60.

Chalazia are not usually caused by bacteria, although in some situations the site can become secondarily infected by bacteria. The distinguishing factor between an infectious process and one that isn’t infectious is pain. If you touch the area and it is painful then it is probably an infection.

Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelid. The most types of blepharitis are caused by bacteria which are commonly found around the eyelid. Commonly, patients with blepharitis will have red eyelid margins and when looked at under a microscope, scales or flakes surround the base of the lashes. Common symptoms caused by blepharitis include irritation, or a foreign body sensation in the eye, redness, itching and/or burning. Occasionally the eyelids may feel sticky upon awakening in the morning, with crusted scales and debris, caused by an oily discharge from the eyelid glands. If left untreated, the glands along the eyelid margin can become blocked and infected, potentially causing a stye or a chronic dysfunction.


Blepharitis tends to be a chronic condition that needs to be managed over time. With proper treatment and maintenance symptoms can be well controlled.

Eyelid hygiene needs to be performed daily. Eyelid cleansing, by either using pre-moistened towelettes or mild baby shampoo on a clean face cloth to clear the eyelid margin of debris and dead skin cells is recommended daily. Additionally, daily warm compresses applied to the eyelids will help unclog the glands along the eyelid margin, thereby allowing them to secrete their natural oils that makeup our healthy tears. Occasionally, your eye doctor may suggest using either an anti-inflammatory or anti-biotic ointment in order to control the inflammatory or bacterial component of the problem. It is very important to use these as directed by your eye doctor. Ongoing lid hygiene is often necessary to keep the symptoms of this chronic condition under control and in some extreme cases a prescription medication is necessary to control the problem.

“Floaters” are small opacities that reside in the vitreous of the eye. People often describe them as small black dots or strands that move when the eye moves and are more easily visible when looking at a bright background, like a white wall or a clear sky. If these floaters have been present for a long time, or have gradually increased in number, they can be harmless. However, if someone suddenly notices a new large floater, or if there is suddenly an increased number of floaters, it is very important to be examined as soon as possible, in order to rule out a retinal hole, tear, or detachment.

What causes floaters?

The center of the eye is filled with a substance called the vitreous. Over time, the vitreous liquefies and the collagen begins to condense into what we commonly call floaters. There are certain areas of the retina where the vitreous is attached to the retina. When vitreous degeneration occurs, there is a pulling mechanism at these sensitive points on the retina and light-sensing cells that are being mechanically stimulated sometimes cause a “flash” of light. Occasionally, when the vitreous degenerates at one of these areas in the retina, it could leave a retinal hole or tear. This is the reason it is important to have an immediate examination when these visual symptoms begin. If a retinal hole or tear is caught early it can be treated quickly with a laser, thereby preventing a retinal detachment which could potentially lead to permanent vision loss.

Can floaters be treated?

There is no treatment for floaters. Over time, with gravity, floaters tend to settle downwards or out of out line of sight and most patients become less aware of them. Therefore, they become much less bothersome. It is important never to ignore symptoms of a sudden increase in the number of floaters or flashing lights, or if they ever increase in frequency. These changes can indicate that there is an acute retinal hole, tear, or detachment, and a dilated eye examination should be conducted promptly by an eye doctor to prevent permanent damage.

Signs and symptoms that could signify a retinal tear or detachment:

  1. Flashing lights
  2. Increase in the number of floating spots, or a brand new floater
  3. A curtain coming down over your vision
  4. A missing portion of your vision

*If you notice any of these signs or symptoms go see your eye doctor as soon as possible.