Common eye and vision problems
Most people will have some vision problem at some point in their life. Some vision problems can affect people of all ages, while other issues are more common as we get older.1 Here are a few common eye problems and their symptoms:
- Myopia and hyperopia: common eye disorders affecting millions of Americans.2 People with hyperopia, or “farsightedness,” often see objects farther away more clearly than closer objects. Myopia, which is more common, generally causes objects farther away to be blurry.3
- Astigmatism: caused by a misshapen lens or cornea. Although symptoms of astigmatism are different for each person, some common signs of astigmatism are blurry vision, squinting, headache and eye strain.4
- Glaucoma: a condition where high pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve. It can be treated with prescription eye drops or surgery. Often, many people with glaucoma do not experience any early symptoms or pain. Keeping up with regular eye exams is an important way to catch signs of glaucoma.5
- Cataracts: cloudy areas that can form in the lens of the eye. They can affect the retina’s ability to process light, which may cause poor vision. Sometimes, cataracts are small enough to not affect your eyesight. In case they progress, cataracts are usually treated with surgery.6
- Presbyopia: a condition that makes it hard to see fine print and close objects. It often occurs after age 40 and can be treated with reading glasses, contact lenses or Lasik eye surgery.7
- Dry eyes: a condition that happens when your body doesn’t produce enough good-quality tears. Dry eyes can be treated with omega-3 supplements, humidifiers or medicated eye drops.8
- Floaters: Eye floaters are small flecks that drift across your field of vision, especially in well-lit areas or on sunny days. These are usually normal. However, if you see a dark area in your peripheral vision or a sudden change in the type or number of floaters, it may be a sign of retinal detachment. In this case, you should visit an eye doctor immediately.9
Six ways to keep your eyes healthy and protect your eyesight
To maintain the health of your eyes, it’s important to take steps to protect them. Here are a few tips for avoiding eye strain and damage:10
- Take a break from computer screens: Too much time looking at a screen can make your eyes tired. If you’re working at a computer, try the 20/20/20 rule. Look at least 20 feet away, every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds.
- Wear sunglasses: Even on cloudy days, UV rays can cause damage to your eyes that could eventually result in cataracts or cornea burns. Choose sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays to help protect your eyes.
- Quit smoking: Smoking not only can dry out your eyes, but it could increase your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Wear safety glasses: Use polycarbonate lenses to protect your eyes from splinters or debris while working, or to protect from injury while playing racket sports or basketball.
- Eat healthy: Like the rest of your body, your eyes need a supply of special nutrients and vitamins to function. Salmon, nuts, carrots, and dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach are just a few foods that could boost your eye health and protect your vision.11
- Schedule regular eye exams: People ages 18–60 should get their eyes checked at least every other year, or once per year if you wear glasses or contacts or have a family history of eye problems.12 Vision insurance can offer coverage for annual vision exams, plus a yearly allowance towards standard contacts and eyeglass lenses.
Eye and vision symptoms to check with your eye doctor
Some vision problems are minor and can go away on their own or with treatment at home. But some symptoms mean you should visit an eye care specialist as soon as possible:13
- Loss of vision in 1 or both eyes
- Severe itching and burning in the eyes
- Sudden eye pain
- Flashes of light in your field of vision
- A sudden increase in floaters
Optometrists vs. ophthalmologists
If you need to see an eye doctor, chances are you’ll visit an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. But what’s the difference? Generally, optometrists practice primary eye care: performing annual eye exams, identifying eye disease, and prescribing glasses or contacts. Ophthalmologists are specially trained and certified to treat more complex medical issues, such as eye surgery and corrective procedures.14
Read our article on optometrists and ophthalmologists to learn more about the difference.
When is vision insurance right for your eye health?
Regular exams are an important part of maintaining the health of your eyes.
Humana offers vision plans that provide coverage for an eye exam once every 12 months, with a $15 copay at participating healthcare providers. Benefits include a $150 allowance for eyeglass frames and standard plastic eyeglass lenses (single vision, bifocal or trifocal) with a $25 copayment once every 12 months at participating healthcare providers. Coverage also includes a $150 allowance for conventional contacts at participating healthcare providers once every 12 months in lieu of eyeglass lenses.15