Oculase Articles

Symptoms of common eye problems

Mr Tariq Ayoub - 16 Oct 2022

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a common eye problem but aren’t sure of the cause, it can be frustrating. Below we explain what could be causing your eye symptoms.


Eye problems

Our lifestyle or age can affect the health of our eyes. Some eye problems are more severe than others and can lead to lifelong vision problems. However, we often catch these early. Spreading awareness about common eye problems and their symptoms helps with this. 

Symptoms of common eye problems

Often eye problems relate to vision itself, for example:

Symptoms can also relate to sensations in the eye area and how they look in the mirror, such as:

We explore these symptoms and common causes below.


Blurred or hazy vision

Your vision may be blurry if you cannot see clearly and struggle to focus. One of the most common causes of blurry vision is refractive errors, such as long-sightedness (blurry close objects) and short-sightedness (blurry distant objects). Refractive errors frequently run in families and can develop at any age.

Other common causes include cataracts, age-related macular degeneration or AMD (blurred central vision), and glaucoma (blurry peripheral vision). You are more likely to experience these conditions if you are over 40.


Loss of vision

Vision loss can be frightening. It may start gradually or occur suddenly. Seek emergency care if you experience a sudden loss of vision. Gradual vision loss has many potential causes. Identifying whether you are struggling with your near, far, peripheral or central vision will help us determine the cause. 

Similar to blurred vision, cataracts, glaucoma, AMD and refractive errors can also lead to vision loss. An infection, a foreign object in the eye, and other injuries can also cause loss of vision. Amblyopia (also known as a lazy eye) often causes poor vision in one eye. Similarly, strabismus (crossed eyes) affects vision as your eyes do not line up.

If you have diabetes, you are more at risk of developing vision problems, such as diabetic retinopathy. We recommend consistent monitoring to identify issues early, such as retinal assessments.


Photophobia (sensitivity to light)

Many eye conditions include photophobia as a symptom, such as cataracts, keratoconus, and uveitis. Other potential problems include allergies, optic nerve disease, iritis (inflammation), and blepharospasm (long-term eyelid switching).

If you have recently hit your head and are sensitive to light, you may have a brain injury. Visit your doctor or emergency care to get checked out. A migraine can cause sensitivity to light, as well as nausea and sensitivity to sound. 


Floaters/flashing lights

Eye floaters and flashes are common and often not a cause for concern. You may experience small dots, lines, rings, or cobwebs with a floater. Flashes can seem like a streaking light or a sudden flash. Migraines can cause flashes of light.

If you experience many floaters and flashes of light, you might have a detached retina, which requires immediate attention. You might also have blurry vision or partial loss of peripheral vision. Other conditions that cause floaters include diabetic retinopathy and uveitis. 

Learn more here: Eye floaters and flashes of light: Causes and treatment.


Haloes/glare around lights

Haloes and glares may occur when you are around lights. A halo might look like a bright ring or circle, and glare is a light that enters your eye. People with cataracts and glaucoma often experience haloes and glare around lights. You might also see glare or haloes if you have a refractive error.

If you’ve recently had refractive surgery, such as LASIK, you might have glares or halos temporarily at night. But, these should reduce as you recover.


Redness in the eye/eyelids

There are many temporary causes of red eyes and eyelids, such as irritation, an infection, sleepless nights, and allergies. Though, some eye conditions can cause red eyes and eyelids. One of the most well-known is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Conjunctivitis is spread easily, especially among children.

Blepharitis, uveitis, and dry eye syndrome also lead to red eyes/ eyelids. Your eyelids may feel sore or swollen. People with these conditions may experience tearing or a stinging sensation in or around their eyes.

Swelling can also be due to an injury to the eye or eyelid, which can result in a black eye. Blocked tear ducts can lead to swelling, often due to an infection or injury, conjunctivitis, and age-related punctal narrowing. Similarly, clogged meibomian (oil) glands can cause inflammation and conditions such as blepharitis. 

Some serious problems might induce swelling of the eyes or eyelids, for example, a corneal ulcer, cellulitis, or Graves’ disease. 


Foreign body sensation

If your eye feels irritated or you have a scratching pain, you may have something in your eye. Something inside the eye that shouldn’t be there is called a foreign body or foreign object. If the object is small, such as an eyelash, the pain might stop once the object leaves your eye. Blinking and producing tears may help to flush it out. You might also need to try an eye wash.

However, you may not have something in your eye even if you feel like you do. Common causes of a foreign body sensation are dry eye syndrome, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, and conjunctival growths, such as pterygium or pinguecula. You could also have a chalazion, corneal ulcer or abrasion (injury).


Sore/painful eye

Eye pain can differ by cause. Your pain may feel sharp and stabbing, scratchy, or throbbing. Eye strain is a common cause of sore eyes, which can be due to prolonged screen use. 

Other common causes of eye pain include a foreign object, infection, or dry eye syndrome. If your pain is persistent, it may signal inflammation, nerve damage, uveitis or glaucoma. If you experience severe eye pain, visit emergency care.


Itching or burning sensation

Itching or burning may occur with or without eye pain. Blepharitis and dry eye syndrome often cause an itchy eye. Your eyes might also be red and sensitive to light. If your child is experiencing an itchy eye, it is likely to be conjunctivitis. Eye strain and refractive errors can also cause an itching or burning sensation.


Discharge from eyes

You may occasionally wake with sticky eyes that have a little discharge (sleep). Sleep is not usually a cause for concern. However, if you experience regular discharge, you may have an eye problem. 

A bacterial infection, such as conjunctivitis, is a common cause of discharge from the eyes. Other causes include a blocked tear duct, a clogged meibomian gland, and a corneal ulcer. If you wear contact lenses and experience discharge, speak to your eye specialist.


Book an appointment

If you’ve experienced one of the above symptoms frequently, visit an eye specialist. At Oculase, we offer a thorough consultant and assessment process to identify the cause of your symptoms. Once you better understand your condition, we can form a tailored treatment plan together. 

Our Founder and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Mr Tariq Ayoub, prides himself on providing a high-quality service. With extensive experience, he holistically manages complex eye conditions to deliver the best care for his patients.

Book an initial consultation today.

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About the author

Mr Tariq Ayoub
Mr Tariq Ayoub, Consultant Ophthalmologist

Mr Ayoub has been rated as one of the top eye surgeons in the UK. He is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, one of the largest NHS trusts in England. He is also the Lead for the Emergency Department at Western Eye Hospital, as part of the Imperial College Trust.

Mr Ayoub completed his Ophthalmology training at the prestigious London School of Ophthalmology, namely at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Royal Free Hospital. During his career, he has received many prestigious awards from national and international organisations for his work in the field of ophthalmology.

His clinical interests include treatment for cataracts, vision correction, corneal disease, eye-lid disorders, trauma, and general ophthalmology. Mr Ayoub prides himself on the high quality of his work. With his extensive experience, he can holistically manage complex eye conditions to deliver the best care for his patients.

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