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Eye diseases overview

There are more than one hundred recognised eye diseases. Here we give a brief outline of some of the more common causes of sight loss. If you have any symptoms of visual disturbance, infection, pain or redness in the eye you should consult your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist without delay. Even if you have no symptoms of sight loss or visual disturbance you should have your eyes tested at least every two years as some eye diseases can develop without symptoms for a significant time. Early diagnosis of eye disease produces the best outcomes and gives the best chance of protecting your sight.



A lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, is a childhood condition that occurs when the vision in one eye does not develop properly.


Cataracts occur when changes in the lens of the eye cause it to become less transparent. This results in cloudy or misty vision. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness globally but can be easily treated.

Corneal Disease

The cornea is the clear tissue at the front of the eye that lets in light and helps focus it on the retina so that we can see. Disease or injury can make the cornea cloudy or distorted in shape, causing a loss of vision. A cornea transplant replaces diseased corneal tissue with a disc of healthy tissue from a donor.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the cells at the back of the eye, known as the retina. If it is not treated, it can lead to blindness.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome, or dry eye disease, is a common condition that occurs when the eyes don’t make enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. This leads to the eyes drying out and becoming red, swollen and irritated. Dry eye syndrome is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca.


Glaucoma is the most common cause of sight loss amongst those of working age. Pressure is raised in the eye which damages the optic nerve and increasingly causes sight loss. New treatments, including improved eye drops and surgical techniques to reduce this pressure in the eye are being researched.

Retinitis pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the name given to a group of inherited conditions of the retina that all lead to a gradual progressive reduction in vision.


Uveitis is a leading cause of visual impairment in people of working age in the UK. It is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, called the uvea or uveal tract.