Many people have minor eye problems, such as eyestrain, irritated
eyes, or itchy, scaly eyelids (blepharitis ). These problems may be
ongoing (chronic) but usually aren't serious. Home treatment can relieve the
symptoms of many minor eye problems.
See a picture of the
Common types of eye problems
It is common for the eyes to be irritated or have a
scratchy feeling. Pain is not a common eye problem unless there has been an
injury. It is not unusual for the eyes to be slightly sensitive to light.
But sudden, painful sensitivity to light is a serious problem that may
mean glaucoma or inflammation of the muscles that control the
pupil (iritis) and
should be evaluated by your doctor.
Sudden problems such as new
vision changes, pain in the eye, or increased drainage are often more serious
and need to be evaluated by a doctor. Eye symptoms that are new or that occur
suddenly may be evaluated by an
emergency medicine specialist.
Ongoing (chronic) eye
problems that may be worsening are usually evaluated by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist). A gradual change in your vision or chronic eye problems
- Vision changes. These may include:
- Trouble adjusting your vision when entering a
- Trouble focusing on close or faraway
- Dark spots in the center of your vision
- Lines or edges that appear wavy.
- Eyelid problems, such as a
stye or chalazion (a small, hard
- Discharge or irritation of the eyeball or eyelids, such as
an infection of the inner edge of the lower eyelid (dacryocystitis)
or pinkeye (conjunctivitis).
- Sensitivity to light
- Inability to see well at night (night blindness). A decrease in
night vision may be caused by nearsightedness,
macular degeneration, or conditions that affect the
People often tolerate minor eye irritation and problems for a long
time, until the irritation or problems become bothersome enough to seek care.
People who have skin problems and allergies often have ongoing minor
problems with the skin of their eyelids and allergic irritation of the
As you reach your 40s and 50s, it is common to have some vision
changes and possibly to need glasses. Some of the changes may also cause other
symptoms, like headaches and nausea, that affect your ability to
Some children may have
special risks for eye problems. Vision screening is recommended for infants who
were either born at or before 30 weeks, whose birth weight was below
3.3 lb (1500 g), or who have
serious medical conditions. Most vision problems are noticed first by the
tips for spotting eye problems in your child. The
first screening is recommended about 4 to 7 weeks after birth.1
Check your symptoms to decide if
and when you should see a doctor.