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

Considerations

Regular eye checkups from an ophthalmologist or optometrist are important. They should be done once a year if you are over age 65 years. 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. These include diabetes or high blood pressure.

These important steps can prevent eye and vision problems:

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:

Get a complete eye exam if you have:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your 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 may be needed for some conditions.

References

Chou R, Dana T, Bougatsos C, Grusing S, Blazina I. Screening for impaired visual acuity in older adults: updated evidence report and systematic review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2016;315(9):915-933. PMID: 26934261 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26934261/.

Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.

Feldman HM, Chaves-Gnecco D. Developmental/behavioral pediatrics. In: Zitelli, BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 3.

Jonas DE, Amick HR, Wallace IF, et al. Vision screening in children aged 6 months to 5 years: evidence report and systematic review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2017;318(9):845-858. PMID: 28873167 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28873167/.

Thurtell MJ, Tomsak RL. Visual loss. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 16.


Review Date: 8/18/2020
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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