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Eye Conditions

At Chicago Eye Surgeons, we understand the importance of informed decisions when it comes to your eye health. Explore the wide range of eye conditions we treat, from cataracts and glaucoma to refractive errors.

(Inflamed Eyelid)

Definition: Blepharitis, also known as eyelid inflammation, is characterized by the formation of debris at the base of the eyelashes, caused by bacteria around the oil glands and surface of the eyelids. Those with oily skin or dry eyes typically experience this condition. Blepharitis can occur from childhood through adulthood.

Symptoms: Symptoms of blepharitis include redness, dryness, itchy eyes, eye swelling, inflammation, and dandruff or scale-like skin flakes along the lashes and eyelids.

Treatment(s): Treatment includes the daily application of cleansers or antibiotics to the eyelids.

(Red/Pink Eye)

Definition: Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the mucus membrane, the covering of the eye, and the inner lining of the eyelids. This condition is typically caused by a viral infection, bacterial infection, allergies, eye products, or environmental irritants. Conjunctivitis is contagious and, if left untreated, can cause corneal inflammation and vision loss.

Symptoms: Symptoms include blurring vision, dimming of vision, frequent prescription changes in glasses or contacts, and seeing with a glare.

Treatment(s): Your physician will prescribe eye medication to treat this condition.

Contact Lens Problems

Definition: Contact lenses can trap eye irritants like dust, pollen, and smoke behind the eyes. This build-up can cause an itchy, burning sensation as well as cause redness. In some cases, this can also lead to conjunctivitis.

Symptoms: Symptoms of contact lens problems include irritation, redness, corneal ulcers, and frequent eye infections.

Treatment(s): It’s important to replace or clean your contact lenses frequently. Your doctor may prescribe specific cleaners or eye drops.

Dry Eye

Definition: Dry eye is a condition where the glands around the eyes do not produce enough tears to keep the eyes moist. This can be the result of aging or the result of an autoimmune disease, menopause, or a side effect of medication. Dry eye can also lead to inflammation around the eyes.

Symptoms: Symptoms of dry eye include a gritty or burning sensation in the eyes, stinging, redness, excessive tearing, a film over the eyes, and difficulty wearing contacts.

Treatment(s): Treatment includes artificial tears, humidifiers, or, in severe cases, surgery to close the tear drainage ducts.

Eye Allergies

Definition: Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, are common eye conditions. These allergies are triggered by irritants like outdoor allergens like grass or smoke, as well as perfume, pet dander, or dust.

These allergies irritate the tissue protecting the eye and eyelid, causing it to become inflamed.

Symptoms: Symptoms include redness in the eye, itchiness, the feeling of grit in the eyes, watery eyes, and a burning sensation. Your eyes may also appear swollen.

Treatment(s): Treatments for eye allergies may include saline eye drops, over-the-counter medication, prescription treatments, or allergy shots.

Eye Pain

Definition: You may experience eye pain in one or both eyes resulting from various causes, including external injury, inflammation, or infections.

Symptoms: The eye feels irritated for a prolonged period, or it is painful to move the eye or to blink. You may also feel pressure in the eye, or it may swell.

Treatment(s): Treatment will depend on the cause of the eye pain. It may involve eye drops, surgery, medications, or preventative steps like wearing sunglasses.

Floaters, Spots, and Flashes

Definition: Floaters are small, visible spots or specks that move around a person’s field of vision. They appear faint or translucent and are made of small clumps of cells in the clear fluid of the eye. The appearance of floaters may be sudden and can be a symptom of a separate eye condition. A person seeing floaters may also experience flashes of light, which is a sign to seek immediate care.

Symptoms: Floaters appear as small lines or flecks in your field of vision.

Treatment(s): Floaters can be annoying but may be harmless. Seek an eye exam to determine if your floaters are a symptom of a separate eye condition.

Herpes (Ocular Herpes)

Definition: Ocular herpes is a condition caused by the herpes simplex virus. This viral infection causes eye inflammation in the cornea and painful sores on the eyelids.

Symptoms: Symptoms of ocular herpes result in sores that form on the eyelid and surface of the eye, as well as an inflamed cornea.

Treatment(s): The treatment for ocular herpes is an oral antiviral medication.

Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

Definition: Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Shingles may impact the cornea of the eye. While anyone can be infected with shingles, it is more commonly found in people with weakened immune systems or those over the age of 80.

Symptoms: Symptoms of herpes zoster include an inflamed cornea, corneal scarring, and decreased corneal sensitivity, resulting in blurry vision and sensitivity to light.

Treatment(s): The treatment for ocular herpes is an oral antiviral medication.


Definition: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition where blood flows in such a way that it increases pressure on blood vessels until they burst. This can damage blood vessels in the retina of the eye—the areas of the eye that send light and images to the brain. Damage to the retina as a result of hypertension is called hypertensive retinopathy.

Symptoms: The main symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy are vision loss, dimming vision, double vision, and the onset of headaches.

Treatment(s): Treatments for hypertension typically include lifestyle and dietary changes, as well as quitting smoking. Your doctor may also prescribe eye drops, medication, and frequent exams to monitor pressure in the eyes.

Iridocyclitis, also known as Cyclitis

Definition: Iridocyclitis is inflammation of the iris and ciliary body structures in the anterior eye. It can be caused by external trauma to the eye, infection, allergies, or other related conditions and can cause blurred vision and eye pain. Without treatment, this condition can lead to permanent vision loss, glaucoma, or cataracts.

Symptoms: Symptoms of iridocyclitis include eye pain, blurry vision, eye redness, eye floaters, and vision loss. In some cases, patients also experience sensitivity to light.

Treatment(s): Treatment may include medications or antimicrobial therapy and depends on the specific cause of the condition.


Definition: Iritis, or anterior uveitis, is inflammation in the colored part of the iris, called the uvea, as well as the front area of the cornea. Iritis can affect both children and adults and is the leading cause of blindness.

Iritis is caused by external injury to the eye, infection from bacteria, fungus, or a virus, autoimmune diseases, or is the result of another health problem. It is possible to have iritis in only one eye or both.

Symptoms: Symptoms of iritis include eye pain, headaches, light sensitivity, loss of vision, red eyes, tears, and abnormally shaped pupils.

Treatment(s): Treatment will depend on the severity of your condition and may include antibiotic treatments, antiviral medications, eye drops, steroid medications, or a combination of these treatments.

Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Definition: Ischemic optic neuropathy is a sudden loss of vision without pain that occurs when the optic nerve is compromised. The reasons for this condition are unclear. This condition is more common in those over 55 years of age who have high blood pressure or have diabetes. Smoking also increases the risk of ischemic optic neuropathy. Patients typically notice the condition when they wake up with significantly less vision in the lower half of the eye.

Symptoms: Sudden loss of vision in the part of the eye (typically the lower portion) in one of the eyes.

Treatment(s): Treatments include newer therapies to protect the optic nerve and magnifiers or prisms to aid low vision. Early evaluation is also important. Those experiencing symptoms should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible.

Keratitis (Corneal Infection)

Definition: Keratitis, also known as a corneal infection, is a painful inflammation of the cornea. This swelling may be caused by trauma to the eye or infection and can result in vision loss. The most frequent cause is improper contact lens care.

Symptoms: Symptoms include reduced field of vision, discharge from the cornea, and painful inflammation. The cornea may also develop scar tissue.

Treatment(s): Treatments for keratitis include antibiotic eye drops, anti-fungal treatments, and, in more severe cases, corticosteroid therapy.

Low Vision

Definition: Low vision, or reduced vision, is a vision impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses, contacts, or lens implants. This condition is typically defined as visual acuity of 20/70 or less and can occur in one or both eyes. Low vision can make daily activities such as driving or reading more difficult and generally occur as we age. Low vision can also be the result of a birth defect, injury, diabetes, glaucoma, or cataracts. As some vision is retained, low vision is not the same as blindness.

Symptoms: Symptoms of low vision include reduced vision, difficulty seeing at night, reduced central vision, and difficulty with daily tasks such as reading or driving.

Treatment(s): Typical treatments for reduced vision, like glasses or contact lenses, will not improve low vision. Low vision treatments include descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty or vision rehabilitation.

Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Definition: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) impacts the macula—the central portion of the retina. This part of the eye is used for recognizing faces, reading, and other daily activities. AMD is a disorder that reduces vision but does not cause total blindness.

AMD is genetic and can come in two forms. The common form occurs slowly over time with aging and thinning macula tissue. This is known as the “dry” form. The other form, also known as the “wet” form, occurs when the retina leaks fluid and blood. This is caused by abnormal blood vessel growth and can lead to more severe vision loss.

Symptoms: Symptoms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) include distortion of seeing straight lines such as sentences in books, street lines, or buildings, difficulty seeing at night, and blurry vision.

Treatment(s): AMD treatments include wearing protective ultraviolet sunglasses, AMD therapies, vision rehabilitation, or the addition of minerals to your diet.

Migraine (Headache)

Definition: A migraine is a severe headache that feels like throbbing pain or pulsing, typically on one side of the head. A Migraine attack can last for multiple hours or days, hindering day-to-day activities. A person may experience blind spots or flashes of light before a migraine occurs.

Symptoms: Symptoms of a migraine include intense pain in one side of the head lasting for days or hours. Other symptoms include visual disturbances like flashes of light or blind spots. Patients may also feel nausea, vomiting, tingling in the face, arms, and legs, difficulty speaking. Patients also experience an extreme sensitivity to light.

Treatment(s): Medications may be prescribed to prevent migraines or make them less painful.

Myasthenia Gravis

Definition: Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness in the eye and eyelid muscles. This is due to a deficiency in the nerve impulses to the muscles. A person may experience this disease at any age, but it is more common in women under 40 and men over 60.

Symptoms: Symptoms of myasthenia gravis include drooping of one or both eyelids and double vision, which will continue to worsen over time the more a person uses those muscles.

Treatment(s): While there is no cure for myasthenia gravis, medications may strengthen the muscles or slow the progression of muscle weakness.


Definition: Nystagmus is involuntary back-and-forth movement of the eyes. This movement can be up or down, side-to-side, or in a rotation. There are multiple types of nystagmus. Pendular nystagmus is when the motion in the eyes is in the same direction. Jerk nystagmus occurs when movements in one direction are faster than another. A person may be born with nystagmus, or it may develop later on in life. This condition can also be the result of an eye or neurological disorder or as a reaction to alcohol or drugs.

Symptoms: Symptoms include repetitive and involuntary eye movements, horizontally, vertically or rotary, head nodding or tilting, and blurry or unstable vision.

Treatment(s): Treatment for nystagmus includes glasses or contact lenses, prisms, or surgery.

Optic Neuritis

Definition: Optic neuritis is an inflamed optic nerve. This condition can cause painful, blurry vision or even loss of vision in the eye. Vision generally worsens over a few days, but a person may not experience any vision loss or symptoms.

Symptoms: Symptoms of optic neuritis may cause pain when the eye moves, vision loss, graying vision, and blurry vision. A person may also be asymptomatic.

Treatment(s): Medications can be applied to the eye to reduce inflammation.


Definition: Pterygium is a growth in the shape of a wedge that forms in the tissue of the cornea. A pterygium grows slowly and does not regularly impact vision. Patients may elect to remove the growth for cosmetic reasons, but a surgically removed pterygia may grow back.

Symptoms: Pterygium appears as a pink growth in the eye’s cornea.

Treatment(s): To treat pterygium growths, wear sun protection like sunglasses or hats with wide brims and apply lubricants to relieve irritation and redness. Surgery to remove a growth, known as a pterygium excision, is an outpatient procedure that takes less than an hour.

Retinal Detachment

Definition: A retina detachment occurs when the thin membrane of the back of the eyeball is damaged. Tears and breaks may occur as we age. Over time, this damage can lead to a detachment as the fluid passes through a break to the retina. The retina then peels away and floats in the central portion of the eye. This detachment can result in rapid vision loss, typically in the peripheral vision. Degeneration of the retinal tissue can also lead to a retinal detachment.

Symptoms: Retinal detachment caused by tears and breaks results in sudden flashes of light. A person may also experience eye floaters, a dark shadow covering their field of vision, or blindness if the entire retina detaches.

Treatment(s): Treatments for retinal detachment depend on your level of detachment. Your doctor may recommend laser surgery, cryotherapy, or a vitrectomy to remove all or some of the vitreous humor in the eye.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)

Definition: Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of retinal diseases that result in the loss of peripheral vision. Because RP covers a group of retinal diseases, accurately predicting it in patients is not possible. Many patients will experience a slow, progressive loss of vision, resulting in tunnel vision. Patients are rarely born with RP but may develop symptoms over time.

Symptoms: Symptoms include peripheral vision loss, blindness at night or in dimly lit areas, and tunnel vision. Rarely do patients become fully blind.

Treatment(s): Treatments will not prevent, halt, or cure RP, but vision rehabilitation can manage symptoms. This treatment includes therapies, wearing sunglasses, or taking daily vitamins.

Styes and Chalazions

Definition: Chalazia are enlarged oil glands, similar to a pimple, deep in the eyelid. This obstructs the gland’s opening.

Styes are typically infected eyelash follicles that inflame the eyelid. While many only develop one or two styes throughout their life, others develop them regularly.

Symptoms: A chalazion appears as a swollen eyelid with mild irritation or pain. These symptoms may disappear after a few days. The eyelid will then become swollen and cause blurry vision. The underside of the eyelid may also form a red or gray area.

A stye presents with redness and tenderness, pain around the edge of the eyelid, and the formation of a round, swollen area, leading to tearing and sensitivity to light. In some cases, the entire eyelid will swell. A yellow spot will develop in the center of the swollen area. Typically, a stye will rupture in two to four days, release puss, and disappear.

Treatment(s): Often, chalazia and styes disappear on their own. Treatments include warm compresses, surgery, or antibiotics for styes.


Definition: Eye trauma is a common ailment to the eyes. These external injuries can impact or limit vision or result in blindness if not treated immediately. Trauma includes a ruptured globe, foreign bodies in the eye, contusions, orbital fractures, retina detachments, corneal abrasions, and more.

Symptoms: Symptoms of trauma include sudden vision loss, difficulty seeing, and pain.

Treatment(s): Treatment for eye trauma will depend on the severity of the injury. Surgical repairs often occur when the trauma is new, and secondary surgery is employed later to continue to repair or address damage. Further management may continue to observe any future impact on vision.