Glossary of Eye Terminology

Amblyopia (lazy eye) – Decreased vision in one or both eyes which cannot be attributed to any eye disease or disorder. In this condition, glasses or contact lenses will not help to fully improve vision. Management may include polycarbonate lenses to prevent injury to the least affected eye, patching of the better eye and/or vision therapy.

Astigmatism – Light rays are focused at different points before and/or after the retina thus causing distant or near objects to appear distorted and blurred. The most common form of astigmatism can be attributed to an oblong or egg-shaped cornea. Management includes glasses or contact lenses which help by refocusing light back onto the retina.

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) – Inflammation of the conjunctiva caused by allergens or pathogens (such as a bacteria, fungus or virus). Symptoms include discharge, grittiness, redness, swelling and/or itching. Treatment may include prescription eye drops depending on the cause. If you suspect you or someone in your family has contracted conjunctivitis, be sure to wash your hands frequently, change towels and sheets often, discontinue contact lens wear and have the affected person see the eye doctor immediately.

Dilation – Eye drops are used to relax the iris muscles thus causing the pupils to enlarge. Dilating the pupils allows your eye doctor a better view of the internal structures of your eye. The American Optometric Association recommends healthy individuals have a dilated fundus exam at least every other year. Those persons with suspected or diagnosed eye diseases, certain systemic diseases (such as diabetes) or for those who are taking certain prescription medications should be dilated more frequently.

Hyperopia (farsightedness) – Light rays are focused in back of the retina thus causing near objects to appear blurred. Management includes glasses or contact lenses which help by refocusing light back onto the retina.

LASIK – Short for Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis – Surgical procedure in which a laser light is used to reshape the cornea and allow light to focus properly on the retina. Patients receiving LASIK can expect to reduce and possibly eliminate their need for glasses or contacts. As with any surgical procedure there is some risk involved. However, choosing an experienced surgeon can dramatically increase your chances of success.

Myopia (nearsightedness) – Light rays are focused in front of the retina thus causing distant objects to appear blurred. Management includes glasses or contact lenses which help by refocusing light back onto the retina.

Strabismus (cross eye, eye turn or squint) – An eye muscle imbalance causing one or both eyes to turn inward or outward away from the direction of fixation. Management of this condition may include glasses, vision therapy and/or surgery to adjust the alignment of the affected eye.