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What Are The Most Common Eye Diseases? (video)

Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration affect many

Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration affect many

K. Victor Zablit, MD, an ophthalmologist at Scripps Clinic, discusses the most common eye diseases that optometrists and ophthalmologists diagnose and treat. Dr. Zablit focuses attention on glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and eye floaters.

Video transcript

What is the difference between an optometrist and an opthalmologist?

These two specialties are made up of highly educated groups of people. They’re both doctors. An ophthalmologist went to medical school, then specialized in eyes and eye surgery. Optometrists also did their undergrad and went to optometry school. They can treat and diagnose all eye diseases. More and more, they are doing more medical treatment. We actually work in a wonderful harmony with optometry in our division.

What are the most common issues affecting the eyes?

Half of our patients are cataract patient. Anyone over 55 or 60, their lens start to cloud up a little bit. Eventually they get to the point where they fail the DMV test for example, or they have problems reading or working or doing their regular daily activities.


Another common problem is glaucoma. There are many different kinds of glaucoma. A common one is described as a silent thief of the sight. A patient feels nothing and notices nothing, but meanwhile, slowly, their vision is going away. That’s what makes it important that after the age of 50 or 60 to have regular, yearly eye exams.


Macular degeneration is another disease that can affect elderly patients. Many times it is in the family. As we grow older, many of us will have a tendency for it. There have been a lot of advancements the last few years for treatment of that disease. Many times it can be controlled well.

How can you prevent cataracts and glaucoma?

Some chronic illnesses can bring up cataracts a little earlier. Smoking can bring up cataracts a little earlier. Taking systemic steroids can do that. Living a healthy lifestyle helps. Many times, glaucoma is part of a family’s history. But staying healthy always helps fight any other eye disease better.

What are floaters?

Floaters are little particles in the eyeball, in the jelly part of the eyeball. In a way, if you look for them, you’re going to find them. If you go look at a white wall, at a blue sky and move your eyes, you’re going to find things moving. They are common, but for some people if they notice a sudden presence of a lot of floaters, especially if they are accompanied with flashes of light or a curtain covering part of your vision, they need to have their eyes checked as soon as possible.

Watch more Ask the Expert videos now for quick answers to common medical questions.