A Basic Glossary of Eye Health
Despite the fact that it is something we all have to deal with on an almost daily basis, for many people, eye care can be very confusing. Not only does it often involve highly technical treatment methods using space-age lasers and advanced microsurgery, but the eye itself is an extremely intricate and sophisticated organ, with parts whose names are virtually unpronounceable by the average layperson. At Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, we believe that our entire process, from examination and diagnosis to treatment and maintenance, works best when our patients understand exactly what is going on, and so we strive to educate people, whenever possible, about the basics of vision care.
Here are some of the more common terms you might hear during a comprehensive eye examination.
- Aqueous Humor: The clear, watery fluid that fills the space between the cornea and lens of the eye. Failure of the aqueous humor to drain properly from the eye increases intraocular pressure (IOP) and can lead to glaucoma.
- Astigmatism: A common refractive error in which an irregularly shaped cornea prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, causing blurred vision at any distance.
- Cataract: A gradual clouding of the eye’s natural lens, usually caused by aging in conjunction with other risk factors. Symptoms of a cataract include blurred vision, glare, halos around lights, colors that are less bright, and a cloudy spot in the visual field.
- Conjunctiva: The thin, normally clear, moist membrane that covers the “white” of the eye (sclera) and the inner surface of the eyelids.
- Cornea: The clear portion of the front surface of the eye that allows light to enter the eye for sight. The cornea provides most of the focusing power of the eye.
- Diabetic Retinopathy: A leaking of the tiny blood vessels around the retina that can be caused by long-term diabetes. Symptoms include blurred near vision, double vision, floaters, and, in later stages, permanent vision loss.
- Glaucoma: A disease characterized by elevated intraocular pressure, which causes optic nerve damage and subsequent peripheral vision loss. Most people have no initial symptoms, but as glaucoma progresses, patients develop peripheral vision loss, headaches, blurred vision, difficulty adapting to darkness and halos around lights.
- Hyperopia: Also known as farsightedness, hyperopia is a very common refractive error where a person has difficulty focusing on small or nearby objects, but can see more clearly at a distance. Those suffering from uncorrected hyperopia often also experience headaches, eye strain, and avoidance of reading and other near tasks.
- Keratometer: An instrument that measures the curvature of the eye’s clear, front surface, or cornea. It is used to collect information for contact lens fittings and surgical procedures and can also help identify chronically dry eyes.
- Myopia: Also known as nearsightedness, myopia is a common refractive error where a person can see near objects clearly but distant vision is blurred. Myopia typically begins to manifest in childhood and usually progresses during the school years.
- Presbyopia: A common vision condition that generally begins to occur around the age of 40, in which the aging eye is no longer able to focus at all distances. Presbyopia is usually first noticed when print begins to blur, and additional symptoms may include eye strain and headaches.
- Refractive Errors: A variety of different abnormalities in the size and/or shape of the eyeball (or in other components of the eye) that affect the eye’s normal ability to focus light on the retina.
- Retina: A membrane of sensitive photo-sensitive cells that lines the back of the eye. Retina cells transform light energy into electrical signals so that they can be transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve.
This list barely begins to scratch the surface of everything that there is to know about eye care and vision health, but board certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal and consultative optometrist Dr. Marc Lay will be more than happy to provide you with information specific to your individual needs. If you have concerns about your vision, or would like to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive vision exam, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips for healthy eyes.