Three Common Vision Problems

When it comes to vision problems, refractive errors are the most common ones that people experience. With these, the shape of the eye or its ability to focus light changes, causing different kinds of visual acuity issues or visual anomalies. 

Since refractive errors are so common, it’s wise to understand what they are and how they impact vision. Here’s a look at the three most prominent refractive issues causing vision problems. 

Three Common Vision Problems 


Also called nearsightedness, myopia is a condition where close-up vision remains reasonably strong, but objects far away look blurrier than they should. The condition develops when changes to the shape of the eye alter where light is focused in the eye, causing it to concentrate in front of the retina instead of on it. 

Usually, the most obvious symptom of myopia is issues with long-distance vision. However, needing to squint to see clearly and eye strain can both be symptoms. The same goes for headaches, though those aren’t as common as with certain other refractive errors. 


Hyperopia – also called farsightedness – is a condition where close-up vision degrades while distance vision remains intact. It occurs when changes in the shape of the eye cause light to focus behind the retina instead of on it. 

With hyperopia, trouble seeing objects up close is the most definitive symptom of the condition. However, eye strain and headaches, particularly when reading or doing other up-close activities, can also be signs of farsightedness. 


Astigmatism is a condition where the cornea or lens of the eye change shape. Usually, this leads to visual distortions or blurriness, depending on the nature of the changes. Often the distortions are particularly noticeable when looking at a light at night, such as oncoming vehicle headlights after dark. The lights may look streaky, starred, or haloed, depending on the nature of the eye changes. 

Blurry vision is another common sign of astigmatism, as well as needing to squint to see clearly. Trouble seeing at night may also be a symptom, along with eye strain and headaches. 

It’s important to note that a person can have myopia or hyperopia and astigmatism. That means it’s possible to have two refractive errors impacting your vision. 

Treating Refractive Errors 

Refractive errors are traditionally treated with corrective lenses. This can include prescription glasses or contacts. With those, the lens can compensate for the changes in the eye that lead to the vision change, allowing a person to see clearly when wearing their glasses or contacts. 

In some cases, alternative vision correction options – like laser eye surgery – may also be an option. However, that will depend on the severity of the vision loss, whether your vision is stable or continuing to change, and certain other factors. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you have signs or symptoms of a refractive error or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

How to Protect Vision Right Now

Have a comprehensive eye exam at ECVA today!

The prospect of vision loss is not typically a concern for most people until a decline in visual acuity becomes noticeable. Vision changes typically occur due to aging or an injury. However, there are also preventable factors that contribute to poor vision or diminished eye health as well. Taking inventory of behaviors that put eyes at risk and making important changes can help safeguard the eyes for as long as possible.

Get routine comprehensive wellness exams

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 93 million adults in the United States are at risk for vision loss. Factors that contribute to vision loss can include being overweight or obese, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. A wellness exam also may uncover family history issues that increase risk for hereditary eye conditions.

Receive a dilated vision exam

Many eye diseases, like glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), have no warning signs, according to the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative. Thus, the only way to determine if there is an eye health issue or compromised vision is to get a complete vision exam, which includes dilating the pupil to see the retina, blood vessels and other components of the inner eye. This is the only way to detect diseases in their earliest stages.

Step up healthy eating

Many eye-healthy foods are rich in vitamins and minerals. Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and collards are good for the eyes, according to the National Eye Institute. In addition, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, halibut, and tuna are also good choices for maintaining eye health, as they lower the risk for dry eyes and eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Sip on green tea

True Eye Experts says green tea is a great source of antioxidants that can keep eyes healthy and defend them from cataracts and AMD.

Wear protective eyewear

Always don sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection when outdoors. Protective eyewear is a must for those who work in an industry that requires eye protection or athletes who play sports in which eye injuries are a consistent threat.

Discard old cosmetics

Exercise caution with outdated eye makeup. Experts suggest discarding mascara that is more than four months old. Avoid applying eyeliner to the inside of the eyelid, as that can lead to irritation or infection.

Practice smart contact hygiene

Always wash hands before inserting or removing contact lenses. Lenses should be stored properly in cleansing solution and discarded after the recommended amount of time for the particular type of lens (daily, bi-weekly, monthly). Unless they are approved for overnight use, remove contacts before going to bed.

Quit smoking (or don’t start)

Smoking increases a person’s risk of developing various eye diseases and can make diabetic eye disease more severe.

It’s never too late to make changes that can preserve vision.

The Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

When a person has diabetes, they’re at risk of a debilitating eye condition called diabetic retinopathy. Essentially, elevated blood sugar levels damage blood vessels within the retina, leading to vision issues. Over time, it can even cause significant vision loss, if not blindness. 

Like most medical conditions, diabetic retinopathy occurs in phases. By understanding the stages, it’s possible to slow the development, preserving visual acuity. If you’re not familiar with the phase of diabetic retinopathy, here’s what you need to know about them. 

The Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy 

Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy 

The first stage is mild nonproliferative retinopathy, also referred to as background retinopathy. During this phase, there are microaneurysms (small bulges) in the blood vessels in the retina, some of which may begin to leak. 

During this stage, there may be no noticeable vision issues. Additionally, treatment might not be required, depending on severity. However, even if treatment isn’t necessary, it’s wise to take steps to prevent the progression of the condition. Managing blood sugar levels, maintaining healthy blood pressure, and keeping cholesterol in check can all make a difference. 

Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy 

Also called pre-proliferative retinopathy, moderate nonproliferative retinopathy is the second stage of the condition. At this point, blood vessels in the retina are starting to swell, altering their ability to transport blood. 

As this occurs, diabetic macular edema (DME) can develop, causing blood and fluid to build up in the macula, a specific part of the retina. As the macula swells, central vision changes typically occur. 

Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy 

Severe nonproliferative retinopathy is the third stage of the condition. At this point, blood vessel blockages are more common and severe, preventing blood from properly reaching and moving through the retinas. Scar tissue often begins forming. Additionally, poor blood flow triggers the formation of new blood vessels, some of which may cause issues as they develop. 

If blood flow is cut off, macular ischemia occurs. Blurry vision and dark spots are both common symptoms. Also, the odds of serious and permanent vision loss are very high at this stage. While treatment may slow progression, restoring what’s lost often isn’t possible. 

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy 

During the fourth stage, new blood vessel growth in the retina and vitreous is increasingly common. That process is called neovascularization, and the resulting vessels are often weak, thin, and prone to bleeding. When bleeding occurs, more scar tissue forms, causing further issues. 

When the scar tissue shifts, it can pull the retina away from its position in the eye, resulting in retinal detachment. If that occurs, severe and permanent vision loss often occurs. 

Managing Diabetic Retinopathy 

If you’re at risk of diabetic retinopathy or are actively in one of the stages, working with an eye care professional is essential. They can monitor your condition and determine if treatments are necessary to slow or prevent the progression of the disease. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you have signs or symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.