What Does That Mean? Optometry Terms Explained

Many people are familiar with common eye health issues, such as GlaucomaAge-Related Macular Degeneration, or Cataracts – but there are also numerous conditions that the general population may not understand or be aware of.

We often hear terms used in the doctor’s, dentist’s or optometrist’s office that we don’t understand. Here are some conditions that may be less common or highlighted less frequently:

  • Strabismus – Otherwise known crossed eyes, or out-turned eye. It’s a muscle condition where your eyes are not properly aligned with each other, and for a variety of reasons, one or both of your eyes may turn in, out, up or down. Often hereditary, strabismus affects mostly children, and with proper treatment, they may outgrow this – though without treatment it may become worse.
  • Trichiasis – This term describes a condition when a person’s eyelashes turn inwards. Rather than pointing outwards, sometimes the lid margin can turn inwards, causing the lashes to rub the eye. This can cause pain, redness, and tearing. This condition is more common in adults as they age and skin loses its elasticity, but can also be more common in those that are of Asian descent.
  • Pterygium – The term pterygium describes a benign, triangular-shaped growth on the conjunctiva (the thin clear layer of tissue that lies over the white of the eyeball) that grows on the cornea. The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but it has been associated with excessive UV exposure as well as wind, dust, and sand exposure. Normally this growth does not cause any discomfort, though if it grows or starts to disturb visual access, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist to have it removed.