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Eye Care Center

Eye Disease Symptoms

Symptoms can indicate disease of the eye and/or surrounding tissues of the eye. Not all symptoms are of equal severity or urgency, but it is important to seek medical help if they are affecting vision. Only an eye doctor can diagnose symptoms of eye problems, tell you how serious symptoms are, and outline whether or not treatment is needed.

Symptoms of eye problems (adults)

  • blood inside the front of the eye (on the colored part) or white of the eye
  • blurring vision that persists
  • bulging of the eye
  • discharge, crusting or excessive tearing
  • double vision
  • extreme light sensitivity
  • eyelids stuck together, especially upon awakening
  • flashes or streaks of light
  • floaters (spots, strings, cobwebs, or shadows before the eyes)
  • halos (colored circles or halos around lights)
  • irregularly-shaped pupil
  • limitation of eye movement
  • pain in or around the eye
  • partial or complete loss of field of vision
  • redness especially accompanied by pain
  • swelling of eye tissues
  • sudden crossed, turned or "wandering" eye
  • sudden decrease or loss of vision

Symptoms of eye problems (infants or children)

  • a white pupil in either or both eyes
  • any difference in size, shape or color of any part of the eye or eyelids
  • any swelling or lump in or around the eyes or eyelids
  • cannot identify things across the room or farther away
  • child not looking at mother by three months of age
  • child covers one eye to look at things
  • child tilts or turns head when looking intently
  • discharge from eyes
  • droopy eyelids
  • eyes tearing or wet-looking, when not crying
  • eyes that do not appear to look in the same direction
  • eyes that wander, shake or vibrate
  • frequent rubbing of eye
  • functionally one-eyed
  • one eye closes occasionally, especially when the child is outside
  • one eye turns in toward the nose or wanders out toward the ear, either constantly or occasionally
  • pain in or around the eye
  • redness of the eye
  • squints or squeezes eyes nearly closed to see

When to seek help
People who notice a change in vision should have their eyes examined without delay. Any of the signs or symptoms listed above may be indicative of a number of serious eye problems. If you or your child experiences any of the above, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Seek immediate medical attention if the:

  • eye is red with severe pain, and you have cloudy or decreased vision
  • eye is swollen and too painful to touch and you have a fever

Poor vision due to refractive error can be detected by routine eye examinations. People over 50 with normal vision and no other risk factors still should have an eye examination at least once every five years. To learn how doctors diagnose and treat eye problems, and which exams to expect continue reading. We'll cover eye problem and diagnosis in the Diagnosing Vision Problems section that follows.

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