When it comes to our health, there are some problems that are easier to recognize than others. Unfortunately, overwhelming numbers of people worldwide tend to overlook the well-being of their eyes. But there are some odd issues with the eyes that should never be ignored because they could signal a larger issue. As is the case with many conditions, early detection and treatment will be helpful in avoiding permanent damage, like lifelong blindness.
If you experience any of these strange eye symptoms, be sure to get them checked out immediately.
You’re seeing floaters or flashes of light
In the back part of the eye, there’s a structure called the vitreous body, which is a jelly that becomes more liquid with time. As you age, the vitreous body might develop what are called “floaters,” which often look like cobwebs or specks in your field of vision.
Floaters are typically harmless, but if you notice a sudden increase in number, you should consult a medical professional: It could mean your retina and the blood vessels in your eye have been torn.
Flashes of light can also be a sign of retinal detachment, which could lead to blindness if left untreated. Depending on the location and size of the tear, doctors may use lasers, freezing treatments or eye operations to fix the problem.
Your eyes hurt or burn
Inflammation or irritation of the eyes often results in an unpleasant itching and burning sensation—typically a condition called blepharitis, which is caused by bacteria or tiny mites in the eyelids.
Other possibilities include styes, infections or a painful inflammation of the oil gland in the eyelids. You could also get a “sunburn” on the eye: a condition called photokeratitis, from exposure to UV rays. You might’ve heard this condition referred to as “snow blindness,” because it’s often the result of the sun reflecting brightly off of surfaces like ice or snow.
Your eyes are extremely red or dry
Redness in the eyes means that they’re been irritated and its blood vessels have dilated. This condition could be caused by a number of things, like a chemical irritant or an allergic reaction.
Another cause of dryness is when your eyes don’t produce enough surface tears to keep them lubricated. To be extra careful, consult your ophthalmologist, who can check your tear production to see if you have chronic dry eye or an autoimmune disorder.
You notice a new mole or freckle on your eye
New freckles on the eyes should always be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. The concern with moles is that they can become malignant and result in melanoma. Sometimes, these freckles can even surface in the back of your eyes, where they can’t be seen.
If a tumor or melanoma develops in the back of the eye, vision symptoms may show up as well, ranging in severity from blurred vision to retinal detachment. These lesions, like spots elsewhere on the body, can signal skin cancer.
You’re seeing double
Double vision in both eyes could signal that the muscles in your eyes are not properly aligned. Temporary eyeglasses, with prisms manufactured with this condition in mind, can help correct vision by bending light to align two images into one. In some cases, surgery might be necessary.
But sometimes, double vision can be the result of a neurological problem, brain tumor or stroke. These conditions will require an MRI or CAT scan, as well as enlisting other specialists to cure the underlying problem.
Having double vision in one eye, which is less common, can be due to a cataract or a retinal problem. Cataracts make your eyesight“cloudy,” limiting vision and making it difficult to see details or in the dark. As cataracts get worse, seeing across long distances becomes increasingly problematic.