Lesser-Known Eye Problems That Can Affect Young People

Dec 12, 2023
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Eyesight diminishes with age, but you don’t have to be old to suffer from eye problems. Here are some eye conditions that every young person should know about.

You know about nearsightedness and farsightedness, which can affect anyone at any age thanks to genetics.

Beyond that, most eye issues crop up in older folks. On average, 40 is the magic age when your eyes’ lenses begin to harden (presbyopia), and it becomes harder to focus — enter reading glasses.

As the decades progress, so do the potential eye problems, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. But even young people can experience vision problems and eye disease, and Dr. Maher Fanous at North Florida Eye Center wants to spread the word so you know what to watch for.

Eye problems that can affect young people

Although most people associate eye disease with aging, young people are susceptible to several eye problems that aren’t discussed much. We want to change that because the more you know, the better equipped you are to spot trouble and get treatment sooner rather than later.

1. Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease where the usually round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. Symptoms can include distorted vision, rapid eye prescription changes, redness and swelling, and sensitivity to light. Experts believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors causes it.

2. Styes

A stye is a small, painful lump inside or outside your eyelid. It is more common in teenagers due to hormonal changes that lead to oilier skin. Symptoms include redness, tenderness, and swelling. A bacterial infection in an oil gland or hair follicle usually causes it.

3. Retinal detachment

Though rare, retinal detachment can occur in young people, particularly those severely nearsighted or with a significant eye injury, so kids involved in contact sports could be at risk. It occurs when the retina at the back of your eye pulls away from its normal position. Symptoms include floaters, flashes of light, and reduced peripheral vision.

4. Diabetes-related eye problems

Young people with diabetes are at a higher risk for several eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts.

  • Diabetic retinopathy is where high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in your retina. The early stages usually have no symptoms, but as the condition progresses, it can cause blurred vision, floaters, and even vision loss.
  • Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, often caused by an abnormal increase in eye pressure. Glaucoma can initially be symptomless but eventually leads to loss of peripheral vision.
  • Cataracts, although more common in older adults, can occur earlier in people with diabetes. This condition clouds your eyes’ lenses, leading to blurry or dim vision.

5. Pregnancy-related eye problems

The changes that occur during pregnancy can also affect your eyes. For example, preeclampsia, which causes high blood pressure and can damage your liver and kidneys, can also cause temporary vision changes, including sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or seeing spots.

Like regular diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose) and can lead to eye problems like diabetic retinopathy.

6. Stargardt disease 

Stargardt disease primarily affects the macula, the part of your retina responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. It usually develops during childhood or adolescence, and symptoms typically include blurry or distorted vision, difficulty adapting to low light levels, and trouble recognizing faces. The progressive vision loss of vision can lead to blindness. 

7. Photokeratitis

Photokeratitis, or snow blindness, is a painful eye condition caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, usually from the sun. It can occur in high-altitude or highly reflective environments, like snowfields or bodies of water, where UV light is more intense. 

Symptoms often include red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, and excessive tearing. While it’s usually temporary, prolonged exposure can lead to more severe and long-term damage.

Whether you're living with diabetes, pregnant, or just concerned about maintaining good eye health, regular checkups at North Florida Eye Center in Gainesville and Chiefland, Florida can make all the difference. Because when it comes to your health, knowledge is power, and prevention is vital. Request an appointment online or call us today.