Common Ocular Diseases

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication due to diabetes in the eye. It occurs mainly from uncontrolled blood sugars, or if you have been diabetic for a long period of time. It is caused by damage to the blood vessel in the retina (the back of the eye). Initially, patient may not noticed any symptoms or vision problems, but it can lead to serious eye issues, which can cause blindness.

A annual diabetic eye health examination is recommended for all diabetics, it is key to have a great communication between the patients optometrist and primary care physician.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye is a common complaint of patients. There are two reasons why dry eye occurs:

  1. Aqueous Tear Deficient: Where the glands associated with the tears do not produce a sufficient amount.
  2. Evaporative Dry Eye: This is an inflammatory conditions, in which the glands along the eye lid surface are not functioning property. Their main role is to produce an oil/lipid component to the tears, since they are inflamed they are unable too.

There are a lot of causes of dry eye syndrome, and a varyiing amount of symptoms - the number one complaint is stingy/gritty feeling in the eye.


Glaucoma is a silent eye disease. It is caused by damage to the optic nerve (which a neurological component of the eye itself). It generally is associated with high intraocular pressure which damages the optic nerve and leads to peripheral blindness.

The causes of glaucoma are irreversible and it is important that it it is caught in the early stages. If left untreated it can cause permanent blindness.

Age Related Macula Degeneration

Age related macula degeneration (AMD) or macula degeneration is a common disease in Canadians over the age of 80. It is a disease in which the centre part of the eye, the macula, has deterioration. The macula is responsible for the visual acuity - with the deterioration patients start to notice a decline in their vision, it generally starts with their reading.

It is important for AMD to be caught in the early stages to prevent further degradation.

There are two types of AMD:

  • Wet: Which is results from blood vessels developing within the macula and causes decreased vision.
  • Dry: Is the most common, it generally occurs from aging and thinning of the retinal layers within the macula. It starts of with pigment changes that can lead to larger areas of deterioration.
  • Amblyopia

    Amblyopia is also known as a “lazy eye: It generally begins during infancy or early childhood. It is when one eye is has poorer vision than the other eye, even with correction. It is key that amblyopia is caught early to prevent reduced vision when older.

    There are generally three causes:

    1. Strabismus: The most common cause - due to one of the eyes turning either inward or outward. Due to the misalignment the brain has a tendency to ignore the input from the misaligned eye.
    2. Refractive: This is due to unequal refractive errors (different prescriptions) in each eye. The eyes are both aligned straight but the one has a large refractive error compared to the other and the brain tends to ignore that eye.
    3. Deprivation: This is generally due to something obstructing the light from entering the eye, leading to the image not being focused on the retina - this is generally due to congenital cataract.

    Posterior Vitreous Detachment

    Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) is a very common condition, it is when the vitreous membrane of the eye separates from the retina itself. Common complaints would be flashes of light or floaters - it is important for this to be seen by an optometrist since there is a small change that this can lead to a retinal detachment.