Eye Conditions & Diseases



Just as your family physician is your primary health provider for your body, an optometrist is your primary health provider for your eyes. At Bell Booth Sirkka, our optometrists are able to prescribe therapeutic pharmaceutical agents (eye drops and oral medication) to treat numerous eye condition.


Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane covering the eyeball and interior eyelid. This condition is most commonly caused by dry eyes, allergies, bacterial infection, or viral infection. Some strains of conjunctivitis are very contagious, so it is important to avoid busy public spaces until your optometrist has established a diagnosis and provided further instructions.


  • Redness
  • Itching or burning
  • Swelling
  • Watering
  • Light sensitivity
  • Green, white, or yellow discharge
  • Crusty eyes upon waking


Treatment for conjunctivitis varies greatly depending on the type. While antihistamines relieve symptoms associated with allergic conjunctivitis and antibiotics cure bacterial conjunctivitis, neither are effective against dry eye or viral conjunctivitis. This is why only an eye doctor can accurately diagnose and appropriately treat your particular type of conjunctivitis.

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors are a type of vision problem that makes it hard to see clearly. They happen when the shape of your eye keeps light from focusing correctly on your retina (a light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye).

Refractive errors are the most common type of vision problem. More than half of Canadians suffer from a refractive error — but many don’t know that they could be seeing better. That’s why eye exams are so important.

There are 4 common types of refractive errors:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia) makes far-away objects look blurry
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia) makes nearby objects look blurry
  • Astigmatism can make far-away and nearby objects look blurry or distorted
  • Presbyopia makes it hard for middle-aged and older adults to see things up close


The most common symptom is blurry vision. Other symptoms include:

  • Double vision
  • Hazy vision
  • Seeing a glare or halo around bright lights
  • Squinting
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain (when your eyes feel tired or sore)
  • Trouble focusing when reading or looking at a computer

Some people may not notice the symptoms of refractive errors. It’s important to get eye exams regularly — so your eye doctor can make sure you’re seeing as clearly as possible.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses and still have these symptoms, you might need a new prescription. Talk to your eye doctor and get an eye exam if you are having trouble with your vision.


Eye doctors can correct refractive errors with glasses or contact lenses, or fix the refractive error with surgery.

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Glasses. Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct refractive errors. Your eye doctor will prescribe the right eyeglass lenses to give you the clearest possible vision.

Learn more about eyeglasses

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Contacts. Contact lenses sit on the surface of your eyes and correct refractive errors. Your eye doctor will fit you for the right lenses and show you how to clean and wear them safely.

Learn more about contact lenses

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Surgery. Some types of surgery, like laser eye surgery, can change the shape of your cornea to fix refractive errors. Your eye doctor can help you decide if surgery is right for you.

Learn more about eye surgery for refractive errors

Talk over your options with your eye doctor. Remember these tips:

  • See your doctor for eye exams regularly
  • Tell your doctor if your vision gets worse or if you are having problems with your glasses or contact lenses
  • Encourage family members to get checked for refractive errors, since they can run in families

Dry Eye Disease

The eye requires moisture to function properly and comfortably. When the eye does not consistently have adequate moisture, it is known as dry eye disease. This condition typically appears for one of two reasons:

  1. The body does not naturally produce enough tears.
  2. The body does not produce quality tears.


Dry eye symptoms are typically intermittent and may include:

  • Redness
  • Irritation (burn, grit, itch)
  • Watering
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye fatigue
  • Contact lens discomfort


Bell Booth Sirkka performs specialized diagnostic tests to evaluate the quality and quantity of your tears to help properly manage the type of dry eye disease you have. We understand there are more effective treatments than just eye drops!

Read more about different dry eye treatment options.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The macula is the small area of the retina responsible for detailed central vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that results in poor macular function, decreasing vision over time.

Permanent damage to the macula can be caused by deposits (drusen) collecting on macular tissue (Dry AMD) or by irregular blood vessel growth invading the macular tissue (Wet AMD).


AMD does not typically present symptoms until the disease has already caused significant damage and vision loss. Early detection and treatment is possible through regular ocular health assessments with an optometrist.


The most effective way to treat Dry AMD is to take supplements specifically tailored to your DNA (genetics). This test can be performed at Modern Eyes Optometry. Patients with Wet AMD will be referred to an ophthalmologist for medical treatment involving injections into the eye.


Cataracts are a common part of ageing. In fact, most patients over 40 years of age have some level of cataract development.

Over time the proteins in the lens of the eye start to restructure, grouping closer together and becoming cloudy. This condition can be made more severe by long- term exposure to UV rays without protection (i.e., sunglasses). A cataract can make it difficult to see clearly and cause colour to appear washed out or faded.


  • Cloudy or dim vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Sensitivity to light or glare
  • Frequent eyeglass prescription changes


Once a cataract reaches a certain level, optometrists will refer patients to an ophthalmologist who will surgically replace the natural, cloudy lens with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). Patients will notice a significant improvement in the colour saturation and clarity of their vision shortly after surgery.


Glaucoma is a disease that causes permanent damage to the optic nerve which impacts your peripheral vision. This damage is usually associated with intraocular pressure, also known as IOP. There are three main types of glaucoma:


Because glaucoma does not usually present symptoms, the best way to detect glaucoma early and preserve vision is through regular ocular health assessments with an optometrist and the use of advanced diagnostic equipment.


Glaucoma can be treated, preventing or delaying further damage with the regular use of medication. If medication does not have the desired effect, an optometrist may refer patients for laser surgery or other surgical treatments.

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma is when the angle between the iris and cornea suddenly closes and the aqueous humour is no longer able to drain, causing an abrupt increase in IOP. This type of glaucoma causes noticeable symptoms, including nausea, intense headaches, eye pain, blurry vision, and sudden loss of sight. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-Angle Glaucoma is when the angle between the iris and cornea is wide enough to facilitate proper drainage of the eye fluid (aqueous humour) but the IOP continues to rise. This form of glaucoma is the most common, building slowly over time.

Normal Tension Glaucoma

Normal Tension Glaucoma is when OP appears normal, but the optic nerve still sustains damage. This is the least common and most baffling form of the disease.


Amblyopia (also called lazy eye) is a type of poor vision that happens in just one eye. It develops when there is a breakdown in how the brain and the eye work together, and the brain can’t recognize the sight from one eye. Over time, the brain relies more and more on the other, stronger eye — while vision in the weaker eye gets worse.

It’s called “lazy eye” because the stronger eye works better. But people with amblyopia are not lazy, and they can’t control the way their eyes work.

Amblyopia starts in childhood, and it’s the most common cause of vision loss in kids. Up to 3 out of 100 children have it. The good news is that early treatment works well and usually prevents long-term vision problems.


Kids with amblyopia may have poor depth perception — they have trouble telling how near or far something is. Parents may also notice signs that their child is struggling to see clearly, like:

  • Squinting
  • Shutting one eye
  • Tilting their head

In many cases, parents don’t know their child has amblyopia until a doctor diagnoses it during an eye exam. That’s why it’s important for all kids to get a vision screening at least once between ages 3 and 5.


If there’s a vision problem causing amblyopia, the doctor may treat that first. For example, doctors may recommend glasses or contacts (for kids who are nearsighted or farsighted) or surgery (for kids with cataract).

The next step is to re-train the brain and force it to use the weaker eye. The more the brain uses it, the stronger it gets. Treatments include:

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Wearing an eye patch on the stronger eye. By covering up this eye with a stick-on eye patch (similar to a Band-Aid), the brain has to use the weaker eye to see. Some kids only need to wear the patch for 2 hours a day, while others may need to wear it whenever they’re awake.

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Putting special eye drops in the stronger eye. A once-a-day drop of the drug atropine can temporarily blur near vision, which forces the brain to use the other eye. For some kids, this treatment works as well as an eye patch, and some parents find it easier to use (for example, because young children may try to pull off eye patches).

After your child starts treatment, their vision may start to get better within a few weeks. But it will probably take months to get the best results. After that, your child may still need to use these treatments from time to time to stop amblyopia from coming back.

It’s important to start treating children with amblyopia early — the sooner the better. Kids who grow up without treatment may have lifelong vision problems. Amblyopia treatment is usually less effective in adults than in children.

Strabismus (related)

Strabismus involves an imbalance in the positioning of the two eyes. Strabismus can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia). Strabismus is caused by a lack of coordination between the eyes. As a result, the eyes look in different directions and do not focus simultaneously on a single point. In most cases of strabismus in children, the cause is unknown. In more than half of these cases, the problem is present at or shortly after birth (congenital strabismus). When the two eyes fail to focus on the same image, there is reduced or absent depth perception and the brain may learn to ignore the input from one eye, causing permanent vision loss in that eye (one type of amblyopia).


Diabetes can be detected during a comprehensive eye exam, even before you begin to exhibit noticeable symptoms. That’s just one of the many reasons you should be visiting your optometrist regularly. Routine eye exams are a critical component of your overall health care strategy.

Individuals with diabetes have a higher chance of developing a variety of serious conditions that, if left untreated, could compromise their vision. These conditions include:

  • Diabetic Macular Edema: In its advanced stages, diabetes can cause fluid to accumulate under the macula, slowly damaging these delicate cells and leading to central vision loss.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetes damages the small, delicate blood vessels in your retina, causing them to become weak and leak blood and fluid. Your retina may try to compensate for this by growing new blood vessels, but these are generally not robust and are also prone to leakage. As diabetic retinopathy progresses, the damaged blood vessels are no longer able to provide your retina with the oxygen it needs, leading to vision loss.
  • Cataracts: Individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age than individuals who do not have diabetes.
  • Glaucoma: Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than those without diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

People with diabetes often have problems with their blood vessels throughout their bodies and the eye is no exception. A complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which affects the blood vessels in the back of the eye, on the retina.

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Nonproliferative retinopathy, the less severe type in which there may be bleeding in the retina and leakage of blood or serum causing a “wet retina.”
  • Proliferative retinopathy, a more severe type where new abnormal blood vessels grow on the retina. These vessels may bleed into the vitreous (the clear jelly in the center of the eye) and cause visual problems.

Treatment involves laser surgery but damage may be permanent. The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is with strict glucose control and a healthy lifestyle (weight loss, dietary restrictions, and exercise).


Diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma don’t typically exhibit symptoms until their more advanced stages, which makes them incredibly difficult to detect without a comprehensive eye exam. If these serious conditions are allowed to progress, they can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness.

Individuals with diabetes are also more likely to experience double vision and blurry vision, as well as frequent fluctuations in their prescription.


Early detection is key. If caught early enough sight saving treatments are available.

Anti-VEGF Medicine

Anti-VEGF medicine, such as aflibercept, bevacizumab, or ranibizumab. These medicines block the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Anti-VEGF medicines can also stop fluid leaks, which can help treat diabetic macular edema. Anti-VEGF treatments can stop further vision loss and may improve vision in some people.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment, also called photocoagulation, creates tiny burns inside the eye with a beam of light. This method treats leaky blood vessels and extra fluid, called edema. Your doctor usually provides this treatment during several office visits, using medicine to numb your eyes. Laser treatment can keep eye disease from getting worse, which is important to prevent vision loss or blindness. But laser treatment is less likely to bring back vision you’ve already lost compared with anti-VEGF medicines.

There are two types of laser treatment:

  • Focal/grid laser treatment works on a small area of the retina to treat diabetic macular edema.
  • Scatter laser treatment, also called panretinal photocoagulation (PRP), covers a larger area of the retina. This method treats the growth of abnormal blood vessels, called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.


Vitrectomy is a surgery to remove the clear gel that fills the center of the eye, called the vitreous gel. The procedure treats problems with severe bleeding or scar tissue caused by proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Scar tissue can force the retina to peel away from the tissue beneath it, like wallpaper peeling away from a wall. A retina that comes completely loose, or detaches, can cause blindness.

During vitrectomy, a clear salt solution is gently pumped into the eye to maintain eye pressure during surgery and to replace the removed vitreous. Vitrectomy is done in a surgery center or hospital with pain medicine.

Cataract Lens Surgery

In a surgery center or hospital visit, your doctor can remove the cloudy lens in your eye, where the cataract has grown, and replace it with an artificial lens. People who have cataract surgery generally have better vision afterward. After your eye heals, you may need a new prescription for your glasses. Your vision following cataract surgery may also depend on treating any damage from diabetic retinopathy or macular edema.