Even if you have “perfect” 20/20 vision, you could have symptoms of something going wrong with your eyes that could result in visual impairment or even blindness.
Regular eye exams are important because they allow your eye doctor to watch out for progressive conditions that start slowly but can cause serious visual problems. Other symptoms may indicate a more serious condition that needs immediate attention.
Get your eyes checked right away if you experience any of these red flag symptoms:
• Sudden loss of vision
If your vision changes suddenly, if for instance it becomes blurry, have your eyes checked even if your vision goes back to normal. Blurred vision may simply mean you need a new prescription for glasses or contacts. But it can also mean you have a serious condition such as glaucoma, a torn retina or age-related macular degeneration. Loss of vision in just one eye could indicate a blood vessel blockage or stroke.
It is normal to occasionally see a floater, which may look like pieces of lint, dots, circles or lines wafting across your field of vision. But a sudden increase in the number of floaters could be a sign that your retina is becoming detached. Other symptoms of retinal detachment include seeing a “shadow” in your peripheral or side vision, or seeing a gray curtain move across your field of vision.
The retina is the layer of nerves inside the back of the eye that sends visual images to the brain. Retinal detachment must be treated quickly, usually with surgery, to prevent blindness.
• Eye pain or injury
Most diseases of the eye are not painful. But some serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, dry eye or cancer of the eye can cause eye pain. Injury to the eye such as a scratched cornea or a foreign particle in the eye can also result in eye pain.
Get your eye checked right away if you have eye pain or a persistent sensation that something is in your eye, especially after you have been doing work such as hammering or working with small particles such as metal shavings.
• Red eye
If the white part of both of your eyes looks red, it may mean you have a cold or allergies or something else has irritated your eyes. If only one is red, it may mean you have a deeper inflammation in the protective barrier around the eye or inside your eyeball.
• Color changes
Changes in the way you see colors may signal a serious problem with your eyes.
• Changes in how your eyes look
If you look in the mirror and notice that your iris (the colored ring in your eye) is a different color than normal, get your eyes checked. Also be concerned if you see a white or cloudy spot in your eye lens, which is the black circle in the center of your eye.
• Halos or glare
Seeing glowing halos or glare may seem more like an annoyance than a real problem. But colored halos or increased glare may mean there is swelling or another problem in your eyes.
• Double vision
If you start seeing two images instead of one, get your eyes checked right away. Also get your eyes checked if you suddenly become cross-eyed.
Many eye and vision conditions can be treated if they are caught early. If you experience any unusual changes in your eyes or vision, or if you have questions about your vision, see your eye doctor right away.
About: Health. Red Eye Red Flags. Troy Bedinghaus, OD. Web. April 22, 2015.
Everyday Health. 9 Serious Eye Symptoms to Watch Out For. Katherine Lee. Web. April 22, 2015.
The Vision Council. Potential Problems & Warning Signs. Web. April 22, 2015.
Harvard Health Publications. Warning signs of a serious eye problem. Web. April 22, 2015.
Reviewed April 23, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith