Like any part of our bodies, our eyes go through normal wear and tear. It doesn’t always mean anything is necessarily wrong or out of the ordinary. But, sometimes when our eyes go through sudden and severe vision changes, it may indicate an underlying health problem.
Our eyes can give us signs of various diseases. For example, diabetic retinopathy may sometimes appear before signs of diabetes.
When something seems off with your vision, don’t ignore it. Know what signs may mean you need a trip to the eye doctor.
Gray Shadows in Your Line of Vision
If you ever notice a kind of gray curtain across your field of vision, don’t ignore it. This symptom could point to a detached retina. If there are no clouds in sight, but you suddenly start seeing gray, you need to talk to your doctor immediately.
A detached retina is one of the worst things that can happen to your eye. If left untreated, a detached retina can lead to blindness. Anyone of any age can suffer from a detached retina, but it most often occurs in people over the age of 40.
When the retina becomes detached, it is imperative that you get it fixed as soon as possible. Don’t ignore the gray curtain or shadows in your vision, even if they are temporary. The longer you let them linger, the less likely they’ll be to stay temporary.
Vision Loss in One Eye
Sudden vision loss can be normal. Sometimes it happens when you’ve been staring at a light source for too long (flash blindness), or maybe your eyes are just tired from staring at a computer screen for hours on end.
The problem arises when you experience vision loss in a single eye, while the other continues to be able to see normally. This type of vision loss can indicate problems in the brain.
Brain tumors and other growths on the brain will often affect our vision before any pain begins. If you lose vision in one eye and the vision loss persists or if you frequently lose vision in one (usually the same) eye, you should speak to your eye doctor and general physician about your symptoms.
A Face that Tingles
You know that tingling sensation you get when your leg or arm falls asleep? It’s possibly one of the strangest feelings. We rarely get this feeling in our faces because there is always good blood circulation.
However, a tingling face coupled with vision loss or blurred vision is cause for concern.
This is a very common sign of a stroke. If you feel like your face is tinging or drooping as you experience vision loss, call an ambulance or have someone take you to the hospital.
A case like this cannot wait and can be fatal if not treated right away. So don’t tap your face lightly until the tingling goes away like you would an arm or leg. Get yourself to the emergency room.
Seeing Dark Spots
Seeing dark or black spots in your vision is another sign of a potential emergency. It may not be as severe as a stroke, but dark spots in your vision could indicate a blood vessel leak in your retina.
Blood vessels leak for a number of reasons: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar levels, etc. It is most associated with diabetic retinopathy. When blood vessels leak, it’s important to seek treatment before the leaking begins to blind you.
Leaking blood vessels are not exclusive to diabetics. Non diabetics (especially pregnant women) are also at risk.
Halos Around Light Sources
If you begin to see halos around lights, especially at night, you may have glaucoma. A common symptom of this blinding disease is seeing these soft halo glows around light sources. It may sound beautiful and romantic but there’s nothing beautiful or romantic about this disease.
Unfortunately, once you have glaucoma, you have it. There’s no way to reverse it.
However, if caught early, glaucoma is a completely manageable disease. There are treatments available that halt the progression of the disease as well as control the fluid pressure in the eye from causing damage.
Extreme Light Sensitivity
On the other end of the spectrum we have a sensitivity to light. This means that looking at light indirectly hurts your eyes and causes headaches and maybe even migraines.
Staring at the sun or an LED light head on does not count as light sensitivity.
A light sensitivity doesn’t just mean you can’t look at light directly. We all have problems looking directly into light sources. A light sensitivity is extreme when you can’t sit near a window with sheer curtains because the light hurts your eyes. When this begins happening, you may be developing cataracts.
Cataracts notoriously cause a sensitivity to light. If you suspect you have cataracts, talk to your eye doctor to find the best treatment for you and stay away from bright lights.
Persistent Eye Pain or Discomfort
Sometimes our eyes will experience odd moments of stress where they’ll begin to spasm or sometimes even hurt. The pain and the spasms quickly subside and you can go on with your day.
However, if the discomfort persists you may have something in your eye. This is especially common for people who work in construction or other manual labor trades that risk getting foreign bodies in the eye.
If you suspect a foreign body in the eye (they aren’t always visible to us), talk to your eye doctor who will be able to identify the object and hopefully extract it.
The eyes are the windows into our whole body. No sudden vision problems should be ignored. Ignoring them would be ignoring your body’s warning signs. A strong skill to have is being in tune with your body. Not many people are, which is why so many are surprised when diseases sneak up on them.
Our eyes see more than we could ever imagine. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t discard them as simply signs of aging. You may have a serious illness that need medical attention.
This post originally appeared on Rebuild Your Vision.