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Eye Disease Glossary

EyeSearch is a Guide to Vision and the Eye, including information on glasses, contact lenses, eye diseases, eye surgery, laser surgery, including laser vision correction, and directories of eye specialists nationwide, including ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians and low vision services

Some of the more common eye disease terms you may have heard about are included here.

Click on the First Letter of the Eye Disease Term that You Wish to Learn About:


Adie's Pupil - a pupil that does not react normally to bright light due to impaired nerve function; usually does not interfere substantially with vision

Amaurosis Fugax - temporary loss of vision in one eye; may be a sign of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or an impending stroke

Amblyopia - the inability of an eye to see normally due to lack of input from the eye to the brain during childhood; also termed "lazy eye"

Aphakia - the absence of the eye's natural lens, usually after cataract surgery

Arcus Senilis - a hazy ring at the edge of the cornea where the iris meets the white of the eye; does not impair vision

Bell's Palsy - paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face due to nerve damage; usually temporary, but can interfere with blinking and protection of the eye

Blepharitis - inflammation of the eyelid; can cause irritation, discharge and even blurred vision

Chalazion - a bump in the eyelid caused by a clogged oil gland;may require surgical removal

Conjunctivitis - inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane covering the white of the eye

Corneal Edema - swelling of the cornea, often causing blurred vision

Corneal Erosion - spontaneous loss of a part of the surface "skin" of the eye-causes pain, light sensitivity and occasionally blurriness, and often occurs on awakening

Corneal Ulcer - a localized inflammation or infection of the cornea extending beneath the surface layer-must be treated immediately to prevent permanent damage

Central Retinal Artery Occlusion - blockage of the main blood supply to the eye often; causes blindness

Central Retinal Vein Occlusion - blockage of the main vein transporting blood away from the retina; causes hemorrhage in the retina and usually results in permanent vision impairment

Central Serous Retinopathy - spontaneous leakage of fluid into the retina, often in young, healthy people - cause is unknown

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Dacryocystitis - infection in the tear sac adjacent to the nose-causes pain, swelling, tenderness and tearing

Dermatochalasis - excess or baggy skin on the eyelids, usually from loss of elastic tissue in the skin

Diplopia - double vision; usually caused by misaligned eyes

Drusen - discolored spots in the retina - can be an early sign of macular degeneration

Ectropion - loosening of the eyelid causing it to turn outward, away from the eye

Entropion - "collapsing" of the eyelid, causing the edge of the lid to turn inward, toward the eye-often results in discomfort due to eyelashes rubbing against the eye

Epiretinal Membrane - wrinkling of the surface of the retina; can cause blurriness or distortion in vision - severe cases can be treated with surgical removal

Esotropia - having an eye that turns inward

Exophthalmos - bulging forward of the eyes, sometimes caused by thyroid problems

Exotropia - having an eye that turns outward

Fuchs' Dystrophy - a deterioration of the cells in the cornea that maintain the cornea's clarity;often has no visual effect but may require a corneal transplant if severe

Hemianopia - the loss of one half of the visual field (left or right); usually affects both eyes and is often caused by brain injury, especially stroke

Hyphema - bleeding inside the eye, often due to an injury

Herpes Simplex - a cause of serious corneal infection - the same virus that causes cold sores

Herpes Zoster - "shingles" - the same virus that causes chicken pox, which can return and affect many areas of the body, including the eye

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Iritis - inflammation inside the eye, primarily in the front of the eye - causes redness, pain, blurred vision and sensitivity to light in most cases

Keratitis - inflammation in the cornea-may cause scratchiness, pain, blurred vision and light sensitivity

Keratoconus - a progressive change in the shape of the cornea, creating a "cone" - like configuration and causing blurred vision - severe cases may require a corneal transplant

Macular Edema - swelling in the center of the retina caused by fluid leakage; results in blurred vision and visual distortion

Neovascularization - growth of new abnormal blood vessels - can occur at several locations in the eye

Nystagmus - oscillating movements of the eye

Ocular Migraine - a visual disturbance usually including an arc of zigzag light and blurry vision - disappears spontaneously and does not usually include a headache

Optic Neuritis - inflammation of the optic nerve, resulting in blurred vision or other visual disturbances - can be caused by multiple sclerosis

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Papilledema - swelling of the optic nerve where it enters the eye - can be caused by increased fluid pressure around the brain

Pinguecula - a thickening of the white of the eye;often caused by chronic irritation

Pterygium - growth of tissue from the white of the eye over the cornea - may interfere with vision if it nears the center of the cornea

Ptosis - droopiness of the eyelid - may result from nerve or muscle damage, and sometimes requires surgical correction

Retinal Detachment - separation of the retina from its normal location covering the inner surface of the back portion of the eye

Rubeosis - growth of abnormal blood vessels on the iris

Scotoma - a blind spot

Strabismus - any misalignment of the eye

Stye - an acute inflammation of a gland at the base of an eyelash, caused by bacterial infection.

Trichiasis - abnormal eyelash growth, usually pointing toward the eye

Uveitis - inflammation of the interior of the eye

Vitreous Detachment - separation of the vitreous gel from the back of the eye - a common occurrence which can result in sudden floaters and occasionally causes a tear in the retina

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