The eye diseases of humans in the overview

There are a variety of diseases in the eye, which are often based on many different causes. Inflammation, injury and alteration in old age can alter and damage the eye. Here is a selection of the most common diseases of the eye.

Here are the most common eye diseases ordered by:

  1. Eye diseases that often occur in old age
  2. Inflammation and infections in and on the eye
  3. Eye diseases as a result of other underlying diseases
  4. Tumors and anomalies in and on the eye
  5. Eye diseases due to nerve damage
  6. Disorders of vision
  7. Defective eyes

Eye diseases that often occur in old age

Glaucoma / green star

Glaucoma (glaucoma) is less a specific disease, but more a generic term for a number of diseases that are associated with typical damage to the optic disc and the visual field. This can lead to damage to the optic nerve head and the retina resulting in visual field defects and, in extreme cases, blindness of the eye. The therapy depends on the cause and underlying disease. However, if eye complaints occur, an ophthalmologist should be consulted for further clarification.
For more information on this topic, see: Green Star

Cataract (cataract)

Cataract generally refers to any form of lens opacity. In an advanced cataract you can see a gray veil behind the pupil.
The clouding makes the lens impermeable to light, leading to a gradual decrease in vision, total blindness, and visual acuity (visual acuity). The main symptom of a cataract is the ever-diminishing eyesight. The causes are very diverse. If the cataract caused by cataracts deteriorates significantly and severely limits normal vision, surgery is the only treatment option.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

It is divided into a dry age-related macular degeneration (85%) and a wet form (15%). Causes of AMD are not yet clear. For the most part, those affected by macular degeneration notice gray shadows in the central field of view, ie exactly where they are looking. The visual acuity is very impaired, often so strong that it is hardly possible to read. There is no established therapy for the dry form of age-related macular degeneration.
Better treatment options are known for the wet form, such as laser surgery and operative rotation. Magnifying visual aids (magnifying glasses, magnifying glasses, screen readers) are used to alleviate the complaints that are expressed in increasing deterioration of the visual performance.

Inflammation and infections in and on the eye

Barley grain (Hordeolum)

The barley grain is a purulent inflammation of the eyelid glands. It may occur on the inside of the eyelid as an inflammation of sebaceous glands (the so-called meibomian glands) or on the outside as inflammation of sweat glands (minor glands) or sebaceous glands (Zeis glands).
The main symptom is a painful nodule on the edge of the lid. The treatment is carried out with antibiotic ointment and heat treatment by red light irradiation.
For more information, see our topic: Barley Grain

Hailstone (Chalazion)

The hailstone is an inflammation of sebaceous glands of the lid inside (so-called meibomian glands) by secretion. It is not painful unlike the barley grain. The impairments are usually of a purely cosmetic nature:
The hailstone is visible as a nodular distension of the lid, which can reach a considerable size. The treatment is performed surgically by piercing and clearing the secretions.


The inflammation of the conjunctiva is one of the most common diseases of the eye. The eye itches, is red and releases secretions. It can be triggered by bacteria, viruses, an allergy or external stimuli such as dry air. Depending on the cause, it may be contagious or not. Leading symptoms are often a red eye, a swelling, secretion and some pain. Since conjunctivitis ( conjunctivitis ) can be triggered by several causes, there are also different treatment approaches. With a self-treatment without clarification with a doctor, you should be careful.


Trachoma is a chronic conjunctivitis caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, which often leads to blindness. It usually manifests within 5-7 days with a weeping conjunctivitis with foreign body sensation. Systemic or local intracellular antibiotics are used to treat the trachoma. For further clarification, a doctor should be consulted.

ocular herpes

The eye herpes refers to an infection of the eye with herpes viruses. Different structures of the eye can be affected (nerves, cornea, etc.). The herpes simplex viruses cause in addition to the eye sore also often a herpes simplex keratitis, so herpes corneal inflammation. The main symptoms are often redness of the eyes, a foreign body sensation and severe burning and itching. Treatment is by eye ointments and / or eye drops. Before the treatment, however, a doctor should be consulted.


Uveitis refers to inflammation of the middle eye skin (Uvea). Whether you have uveitis is evident from the fact that the eye is reddened, stinging pains persist, the eye tears, you only see blurred, the pupil is narrowed and bright light worsens the symptoms. Possible triggers for the inflammation of the uvea are bacteria, viruses or fungi. To prevent permanent damage, the inflammation should be relieved quickly and effectively by an ophthalmologist. Mostly this is the anti-inflammatory drug cortisone used.

eyelid inflammation

Symptoms of eyelid firing can vary significantly depending on the area affected. Eyes may itch and tears, but severe cases can also cause massive pain and increased vision loss. The term "barley grain" summarizes various causes of eyelid inflammation (see above). A further cause of a Augenlidentzündung represents a lacrimal sore. The therapy depends on the cause of the Augenlidentzündung and can differ thereby from case to case clearly.

Inflammation of the lacrimal gland

Inflammation of the lacrimal gland usually affects the entire eye, as the tears produced by it are important structures distributed over the entire eye. The lacrimal inflammation can have different causes. Most often, the acute form of inflammation is caused by bacterial pathogens. But also certain viruses can lead to a lacrimal inflammation. A lacrimal inflammation usually occurs on one side. It manifests itself in the fact that the patient has a reddened and swollen eye, which reacts very sensitively to pressure. The treatment of lacrimal inflammation always depends on the cause of the disease. Warm, preferably sterile compresses on the eye can help to reduce the inflammation faster.

Inflammation of the optic nerve

The inflammation of the optic nerve is called neuritis nervi optici . Many underlying diseases can lead to inflammation of the optic nerve. The most common cause (about 20-30% of cases) is the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS). First, the inflammation of the optic nerve leads to a loss of visual acuity. With slow progression, this is usually not immediately noticed by the patient. But most of the time it happens suddenly, that is, in the course of a few hours (sometimes even days) to central visual field defects. In most cases, an inflammation of the optic nerve, even without therapy, shows a spontaneous healing and visual acuity improves itself again. The underlying disease should nevertheless be recognized in order to treat it.

Inflammation of the iris

Iritis is an inflammation of the iris. It is often associated with inflammation of other parts of the middle eye skin (uvea), which are then called uveitis in their entirety (see above). One distinguishes two origins of the iritis. On the one hand, there are irritids, which are the cause of a non-inflammatory cause, on the other hand, inflammatory diseases can occur as part of the immune response to infections. Often the eyes are red, very sensitive to light and can hurt. In addition, there is a decrease. The causal treatment of iritis may have different approaches, as there are many different causes.

Inflammation of the cornea

An inflammation of the cornea is also called keratitis . The cornea is often clouded. In addition, the eyes are watery and painful. Mostly they are additionally reddened. The eye can become more sensitive to light. There are many different causes of keratitis. Here, a distinction is made between infectious and non-infectious causes. Any suspicion should be consulted immediately an ophthalmologist, otherwise the vision can be permanently restricted. The therapy depends on the cause and can be done with different eye drops.

Eye diseases as a result of other underlying diseases

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a change in the retina that occurs over the years in diabetics. The vessels of the retina become calcified, new vessels can form, which grow into the structures of the eye and thus seriously endanger vision. Depending on the stage, deposits, neovascularization or even retinal detachment and bleeding occur. Those affected look blurry and blurry. The therapy is difficult, it can be done by laser or surgery depending on the cause. There is no drug therapy.

Endocrine orbitopathy

Endocrine orbitopathy is a disease that affects the eyes and their eye sockets (the so-called orbita). The majority of patients suffering from endocrine orbitopathy develop this symptom in the context of thyroid dysfunction. The eyes of the affected patient emerge from the eye socket and the upper eyelids appear raised so that the eyes appear unnaturally large and wide open. The fact that it is still not possible for physicians to treat endocrine orbitopathy causally, is not least due to the fact that the exact causes of the disease are still not fully explored.

Sjörgen syndrome

Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system focuses primarily on salivary and lacrimal glands. For example, Sjögren's syndrome causes symptoms such as dry eyes, dry mucous membranes in the mouth, nose and throat as well as joint complaints. The treatment is difficult due to the unclarified causation until today.


Xanthelasms are yellowish plaques caused by lipid deposits in the upper and lower eyelid. They are harmless, in no case contagious and also not hereditary, whereby they can occur frequently in a family. In the elderly, this often happens without cause, in younger people, basic diseases must be excluded. One recognizes the Xanthelasmen as yellowish pads. If desired, cut out the affected skin.

Tumors and anomalies in and on the eye

Uveal melanoma

The choroidal melanoma is the most common malignant tumor in the inner eye of the adult. It is caused by a degeneration of pigment-forming cells, which are important for eye color. Therefore, these tumors are often dark colored. The choroidal melanoma often metastasizes. The choroidal melanoma causes in most cases initially no complaints, so it remains undetected for a long time. The treatment of the choroidal melanoma depends on the size and can be done by means of radiation, laser or surgery.

eyelid tumor

Eyelid tumors are tumors of the eyelids. These can be both good and bad. The causes of eyelid tumors include a variety of triggers. High sunlight (UV radiation) can promote the development of eyelid tumors. In addition, high exposure to X-rays has a negative effect. A lid tumor does not always have to be annoying. Depending on the location, the tumors may leave the patient completely undisturbed. The treatment options of eyelid tumors depend on what type of tumor it is, how far it has progressed, where it is located, and consequently what functional limitations it brings with it.

  • eyelid tumor
  • Conjunctival tumor


Retinoblastoma is a tumor of the retina. This tumor is genetic, so hereditary. It usually occurs in childhood and is malignant. Retinoblastoma is a congenital tumor or it develops in early childhood. The affected children are actually symptom free, ie they express no pain. It may occasionally happen that the children squint with a retinoblastoma. As already explained above, the tumor retinoblastoma is already well advanced at diagnosis and thus relatively large. In these cases, the eye must be removed. For smaller tumors can be treated with chemo or radiotherapy.

Tumors of the lacrimal gland

At the lacrimal gland, as with all other organs, there are both malignant and benign tumors. They differ in their pattern of growth and their ability to scatter. The most common tumor of the lacrimal gland is the benign adenoma . Malignant tumors of the lacrimal gland are rare. The therapy depends on the tumor.

Birthmark in the eye

As a birthmark or partially pigment or liver spot colloquially a sharply circumscribed, benign malformation of the skin or mucous membrane is called. This is not a disease, it's just a benign anomaly. However, in rare cases this can degenerate into melanoma. It is usually only a cosmetic problem. It can be removed by surgery or laser coagulation.

Eye diseases due to nerve damage

Horner syndrome

The Horner syndrome manifests itself by three defined symptoms: pupil narrowing, drooping of the upper lid and sinking back of the eye in the eye socket. Horner syndrome is not a disease in itself, but only a symptom (sign) of a disease. Often certain nerves are damaged. There is no treatment for the symptom Horner syndrome. However, by treating the causes, the signs of the Horner triad may decline.

optic atrophy

Optic atrophy is the loss of nerve cells in the optic nerve. Either the nerve cells decrease in size or number. Both are possible.
Atrophy can have different causes. The symptoms range from unrecognized small central to large-scale and thus in everyday life limiting visual field defects. Leading the way in the diagnosis is, above all, the ocular fundus reflection by the ophthalmologist. The treatment of optic atrophy is difficult because each case the cause must be treated.

Disorders of vision


In farsightedness (hyperopia) there is an imbalance between the refractive power and the length of the eyeball. Far-sighted people look good in the distance, but objects appear blurred nearby. The eyeball is too short in relation to the refractive power or the refractive power too weak in relation to the eyeball. The cause can be an axis hyperopia or a refractive hyperopia. For the correction of hyperopia, there are now several treatment options. The simplest solution is glasses with convex lenses (also plus lenses or converging lenses), which support the refractive power of the eye.

Red Green weakness

The genetic red-green weakness is the most common color vision deficiency and is often colloquially referred to as color blindness. She is always innate. Those affected perceive certain shades of red and green only as shades of gray, which means that they are difficult or even indistinguishable from each other. To date, no therapy is known for the red-green-visual weakness and since the disease is inherited, there are no opportunities for prophylaxis.


Squinting is the deviation of an eye from the direction in which it should look naturally. As causes different triggers come into question. Mostly, however, no trigger can be recognized. The symptoms include fatigue, headache and double vision. It can be treated by means of an operation. It is recommended to carry out the operation after the latest 6 months from the time of occurrence.


Short-sightedness (myopia) refers to a type of refractive error in which the relationship between refractive power and the length of the eyeball is not correct. Strictly speaking, the eyeball is too long (axis myopia) or the power too strong (refractive myopia). The short-sighted person can see objects in the vicinity but good, more distant objects are perceived only blurred or blurry. Myopia can usually be compensated with the help of glasses.


Night blindness refers to a disturbed eyesight adaptability to darkness. For those affected only outlines are visible. Due to a vitamin A deficiency, it can also be acquired. At the ophthalmologist night blindness is measured and detected by means of devices. There is no therapy.

Astigmatism / astigmatism

If you see out of focus both in the distance and in the vicinity, the cause may be a so-called astigmatism. The eye can no longer concentrate the incident light on an exact point of the retina and thus focus, but the affected see points as blurred lines. A refractive error of the eye is called astigmatism. One differentiates between a regular and an irregular astigmatism. The symptoms of astigmatism depend on the severity of the curvature of the cornea. In addition to the correction of the astigmatism by glasses or contact lenses, the surgical procedure is a possible therapy.

color blindness

In total color blindness, no color can be perceived, only contrasts ( light or dark ). One distinguishes between innate and acquired color blindness. Main symptoms are: the lack of ability to perceive colors; a reduced visual acuity; fast, twitching eye movements; increased glare sensitivity. There is currently no way to cure color blindness.

Defective positions of the eye


The entropion is a malposition of the lid, in fact an inward return of the lid, so that the eyelashes on the cornea grind (trichiasis). This disease occurs predominantly in older age ( Entropium senile ), but may also occur in the infant. The permanent grinding of the eyelashes on the conjunctiva causes the patient to redden the eye and a foreign body sensation.


Ectropion is a malposition of the lid. Here, however, not inward ( entropion ), but outward ( ectropion ). In addition, ectropion almost always affects the lower eyelid. The lid is rolled outwards and often shows the inside, as you can see it, if you pull the lower lid with your thumb down. Ectropion - as well as entropion - is a disease of old age. As a rule, surgery is the drug of choice. An attempt is made to surgically tighten the eyelid and rest it on the eyeball (bulbus), eg by shortening the lower lid and then shifting it.

Common Eye Diseases | Nuffield Health (February 2020).

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