Glossary of Terms

Eye-related terms A through Z

A1C

An average blood sugar level, called A1C, should be taken every 3 months.  This number is supposed to be in the range of 4.5 - 6.5. When it gets too high, you can develop serious health problems  - especially in your eyes, kidneys, and nervous system.

AREDS vitamins

Research has shown through the Age Related Eye Disease Studies 1 and 2 (AREDS 1 and 2) that antioxidant vitamins together with zinc can help slow down the progression of macular degeneration, even though they cannot prevent macular degeneration altogether.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is a condition where tiny flakes collect on your eyelashes which look similar to dandruff. These flakes are often a sign of inflammation.

Cataract

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens in the eye. Similar to looking through a dirty window, a cloudy lens makes it difficult to see through.

Chalazion

If your stye stays around on your eyelid but the pain goes away it is now called a chalazion and may be more difficult to get rid of.

Computer vision syndrome

Also referred to as “Digital Eye Strain”, computer vision syndrome encompasses a group of eye conditions where eye strain develops as a result of prolonged use of computers as well as other digital devices like ipads, smartphones, etc.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which sugar is not properly absorbed in the body. As a result, the sugar builds up and weakens the blood vessels throughout the body.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy happens when diabetes causes bleeding in the retina, the back of the eye, from the build-up of sugar and weakening of blood vessels.

Drusen

Drusen (yellow deposits) are like little garbage piles that collect in the retina. As you get older, it is common to have a few of these drusen. However, they can also be early signs of macular degeneration.

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome occurs when there is either a lack of tears made in your eyes or a problem with the tears being made.

Exudate

Exudate is a yellow, fatty substance that may leak from your weak blood vessels.

Ectropion

Ectropion is a condition where your lower eyelid protrudes outward causing exposure of the lower portion of your cornea.

Geographic atrophy

Geographic atrophy is a large area of dead retinal tissue and is responsible for 10% of the legal blindness caused by macular degeneration.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a category of diseases of the optic nerve (the nerve running between the eye and the brain) that slowly causes vision to decline, and may eventually lead to blindness.

Glaucoma suspect

Oftentimes, if you have certain risk factors for glaucoma, your eye doctor will consider you a glaucoma suspect, and will follow you very carefully. This way, if glaucoma develops, it can be treated right away.

LASIK

LASIK, stands for “Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis. It is a laser surgical procedure that is performed to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism by permanently changing the shape of the cornea.

Lens

The lens is the focusing system that sits inside our eyes.

Macula

The macula is a very small area in the back of your eye that is responsible for your central and high-acuity vision.

Macular degeneration

Age related macular degeneration (simply referred to as macular degeneration) refers to the degenerative disease affecting the part of the eye called the macula, which causes loss of central vision.

Macular edema

Macular edema is when fluid leaks into the most sensitive part of the retina, the macula. This can occur in any form of diabetic retinopathy.

Meibomian gland dysfunction

The glands that normally produce the fatty part of your tears, which help prevent evaporation, are clogged up or not working properly.

Metabolic syndrome

This refers to a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and high cholesterol. Any of these conditions increase your risk of developing cataracts.

Myotonic dystrophy

This is the most common form of muscular dystrophy which causes progressive muscle weakness.

Neovascular glaucoma

This is one of the most aggressive forms of glaucoma. If the new blood vessels that form find their way to the front of your eye, they can travel through the drainage structures of the eye (like a vine growing up a wall) and block the drains. Like holding onto a hose that’s draining water, this drainage in your eye can cause a tremendous backup of fluid, which increases eye pressure and can damage your optic nerve.

Neovascularization

 New,  weak blood vessels may form in more severe stages of diabetic retinopathy. These are most commonly treated with injections of medication or laser treatment.

PRK

PRK stands for “Photorefractive Keratectomy” is another form of refractive surgery from before the time of LASIK.

Similar to LASIK, it is used to permanently change the cornea with the goal of correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism.

Retinal detachment

Your retina can actually be pulled off from the back of the eye. You may notice flashes, floaters or a curtain over your vision when this occurs. This is an emergency since it can cause long term loss of vision.

Sjogren syndrome

Sjogren syndrome is an autoimmune disease which can affect your mucous membranes, causing dry eyes.  You may also experience a dry mouth, and occasionally, a dry vaginal canal.

Stye

The technical term for a ‘stye’ is a hordeolum. A stye is caused by a localized infection inside a clogged gland of the eyelid.

Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, called the uvea.

Vitreous hemorrhage

This can happen when neovascularization causes ‘tug-of-war’ between your retina and your vitreous, the gel like center of your eye. Either side that ‘wins’ can cause blood vessels to burst since they’re so weak. Similar to dripping dye into a cup of warm, gel-like water, your blood spreads through the center of your eye, creating foggy vision.