headaches and eyes - The eyes rarely are a cause of headache. The lack of glasses to correct a significant vision problem, eye muscle imbalance, severe glaucoma, and eye inflammation are occasional causes of headache. More commonly headache comes from stress, fatigue, poor diet, hypertension, sinus problems, dental or jaw problems, injury, or viral infections. Persistent headaches should be evaluated by your personal physician. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

migraine - Migraine may consist of severe headache, blurred vision and upset stomach. Vision disturbance such as flashing lights (kaleidoscope, zigzag, whirling, sprinkling stars) is often followed by vision loss which may be partial or total. It usually lasts 30 minutes. A headache may follow which is severe, piercing and often incapacitating. Finally, a queasy, upset stomach may follow. A person may have one part of the migraine syndrome only. Vision loss in migraine lasts longer than momentary vision loss or disturbance associated with poor circulation or retinal problems. Severe, persistent headaches should be reported to your family doctor.

dry eye - Dry eye is very common as we age, becoming increasingly symptomatic after the age of 40. Women seem to be affected more than men. Complaints consist of tearing (paradoxical but true), irritation, red eye, burning, itching, and blurred vision. Treatment is frequent use of artificial tears available at your pharmacy without prescription. Artificial tears cannot be used too often and have no side effects. Tear duct plugs may be placed to help control the dry eye problem. The tear ducts drain the tears away, so plugging allows what tears the person has to remain longer.  Dietary supplementation with Flax seed and/or fish oil often helps.  Restasis eye drops are very effective in helping this problem. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

tearing - Any time the eye is irritated it will tear (infection, foreign body, scratch, allergy or even dry eye (see dry eye). Tearing and a red, painful eye require a visit to the eye doctor. Sometimes the tear duct, which is like a drain pipe, is blocked and the tears cannot drain so the eye tears. This condition requires an office visit for evaluation and treatment.

irritation - See tearing. Any tearing which does not respond to over the counter drops should be evaluated by the eye doctor. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

painful lid - The usual cause of painful lid is an inflammation of the oil glands which line the margin or edge of the lid. This condition can lead to a sty or chalazion. Hot compresses will usual help or cure this condition. Any lid pain which does not respond to this home remedy must be evaluated by the eye doctor.

sty or chalazion - Blocked inflamed oil gland of the eyelid. This may require surgical drainage, but first hot compressing may help. [-back to topics -or - to top-]


eyelid growth
- Any growth which is growing progressively, causes loss of lashes, flakes, bleeds, or is firm or irregular should be evaluated for possible biopsy. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

Skin cancer of eyelid

painful eye
- Any eye pain which is more than momentary should be evaluated by your doctor. Possible problems include glaucoma, inflammation, injury, or infection. One source of a sharp sudden stab-like pain is the eye drying out: artificial tears would help this condition.

macular degeneration - A deterioration of the central portion of the retina. The retina is like film in a camera, and the macula is responsible for detailed, fine vision. Central vision becomes distorted or blurred and in severe cases reading or driving vision is very poor.

While central vision (reading, driving, and color vision) may be lost, fear of total blindness is unfounded. The cause of macular degeneration is unknown.

Macular Degeneration

Central vision blurred

There is no definite prevention for macular degeneration, but a good diet, anti-oxidant vitamins, protecting the eyes from sunlight with UV dark glasses, and not smoking give the eyes a better chance of retaining vision.

There are now treatments for some macular degeneration conditions. See Dr. Cies for a full evaluation.
[-back to topics -or - to top-]

glaucoma - Diseases of the eye in which the optic nerve is damaged, usually slowly but progressively, by a level of pressure in the eye which interferes with the normal blood flow to the nerve. Most cases are called chronic simple glaucoma.

This glaucoma is usually painless, and the vision loss is very subtly progressive so that a person with it is unaware of any problem without an eye exam.

Glaucoma is an increase of the eye's pressure to a harmful level.


The vision loss is permanent so it is vital that eye exams be regular in adults. Eye exams by an ophthalmologist for glaucoma include pressure measurement, evaluation of the optic nerve, and peripheral visual field checkup. Treatment is usually quite successful with drops, laser or surgery. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

normal optic nerve

damaged optic nerve

Laser treatments to iris to permit
proper flow of fluid within the eye.
glaucoma and pain - A type of glaucoma called narrow angle glaucoma can cause intense pain with a sudden pressure rise. Such pain is uncomfortable but may be a helpful warning that a serious condition exists. This "attack" can usually be broken and then be treated with a laser for long term protection. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

crossed eyes - This is the non-medical term for strabismus. The eye muscles are out of balance. Double vision, poor depth perception, poor vision in one eye, or poor cosmetic appearance can result.

This can be treated with glasses, exercises, patching or surgery.
[-back to topics -or - to top-]

Crossed eyes.

amblyopia - Medical term for an eye with poor vision despite glasses. That eye's messages to the brain are weak, and the other eye is preferred by the brain.

lazy eye - A term usually meant by patients to mean crossed eyes, but actually is a lazy eye with poor vision (amblyopia). [-back to topics -or - to top-]

red eye - Can be caused by a variety of conditions including injury, infection, allergy, internal inflammation, glaucoma, or dry eye. A red eye should usually be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.

conjunctivitis - Inflamed conjunctiva (the white of the eye) is usually caused by allergy or infection. This requires a medical evaluation. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

lid margin infection or blepharitis - Inflamed lids caused by excessive oil secretion build-up, scaling skin, bacteria, and poor hygiene. A sty or chalazion can result. The initial home remedy is hot compressing and careful cleansing of the lash area. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

flashing lights - See vitreous degeneration and migraine

floaters, cobwebs in vision - See vitreous degeneration [-back to topics -or - to top-]

vitreous degeneration - The vitreous is a gel like substance which fills the center of the eye. With age or injury it liquifies and pulls away from the retina. Cells, membranes, and protein like strands float in the vitreous and appear to the person like cobwebs, spots, or lines. They are called floaters.

Flashing lights are caused by the gel pulling away from the retina. Retinal tears can occur and as a result a retinal detachment can occur. The flashes and floaters are troublesome but are good warning signs that a full eye exam is necessary to rule out damage to the retina.

retinal detachment
- The retina pulls away from deeper layers of the eye and cannot function. If unrepaired the retina will degenerate. Surgery is usually necessary.

Also see vitreous degeneration. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

retinal detachment

hemorrhage on the eye white - See sub-conjunctival hemorrhage.

subconjunctival hemorrhage - the blood beneath the white of the eye cannot enter the eye and is completely safe. This is usually caused by rubbing the eye, often in our sleep. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

subconjunctival hemorrhage

sun callous of the eye - See pterygium, pinguiculum

pterygium - Similar to pinguiculum in all ways except the callous grows onto the cornea. This can damage vision and may require surgical removal. Sun protection with good dark glasses is important. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

- Disease involving a disorder of sugar metabolism. This condition affects many parts of the body and requires close control of blood sugar and evaluation, in particular of the eyes, yearly.

diabetic retinopathy - Altered sugar metabolism results in poor circulation and abnormal metabolism of the retinal cells. Vision can be damaged by cell loss and hemorrhage. Careful frequent eye examinations are necessary to detect diabetic damage in early stages. Treatment can limit the possible harm and increase a person's chances of good vision for a lifetime. [-back to topics -or - to top-]

diabetic retinopathy


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