Recognizing eye diseases: These pictures will help!

Recognizing eye diseases: These pictures will help!

Identifying eye diseases based on symptoms alone is often difficult. The eye has many different components that can undergo various changes. For example, the retina can be damaged due to arterial hypertension (high blood pressure). However, this can only be seen if you look at the fundus of the eye using a so-called ophthalmoscopy.

The possible eye diseases increase with age. The symptoms are diverse. Since the eye has few pain receptors, few diseases, such as corneal inflammation, are associated with pain. Dry eyes, as in Sicca syndrome, do not directly cause eye pain but can be very uncomfortable. Caution should be exercised in the event of flashes of light or loss of field of vision. In these cases, you should see a specialist as soon as possible to clarify the symptoms.

In Germany, some of the most common eye diseases are cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, astigmatism or retinopathy pigmentosa. Our photo series shows you some typical pictures of diseases of the eye apparatus. These images can provide initial guidance, but if you have symptoms, you should seek medical advice to make the correct diagnosis.


The lens is an integral part of the optical system. It usually is crystal clear and biconvex (curved outwards on both sides). It enables the refraction of light and ensures that we get a sharp image of the retina.

If the lens becomes cloudy, it is called a cataract. The light can then no longer fall unhindered on the retina. As a rule, this gradual process occurs more frequently in old age. Those affected report deterioration in vision and increasing “grey-in-grey” vision. The treatment consists of an operation.

Grüner Star (Glaucoma)

The inside of our eye is filled with aqueous humour. This liquid ensures constant intraocular pressure and supplies the cornea with metabolic products, among other things. A drainage disorder can cause the aqueous humour to accumulate in the eye and increase the pressure. This clinical picture is called glaucoma or glaucoma.

In ophthalmology, a distinction is made between different types of glaucoma. Glaucoma can appear suddenly or be chronic. Chronic glaucoma is usually symptom-free and is most likely to be noticed by visual field defects, i.e. black spots in the field of vision. Acute glaucoma, on the other hand, causes severe eye pain and headaches, including nausea and a hardened eyeball.

In Germany, every 10th person is at risk of suffering from increased intraocular pressure, which can develop into glaucoma. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness after age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Rapid medical action after recognizing the symptoms is decisive for the outcome.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

In the Western world, age-related macular degeneration (also age-related macular degeneration ) is the most common cause of blindness in old age. This leads to the progressive destruction of the macula, the place of the sharpest vision on our retina. Accordingly, the central syndrome is the limitation of sharp vision. Those affected can often still see well in the peripheral areas of the field of vision, but there is a massive loss of vision (loss of vision) in the macula.

Therapeutically, attempts are made to prevent the disease from progressing, but there is no therapy to cure age-related macular degeneration.

retinal detachment

The retina forms the innermost layer of the eye and is responsible for our visual perception. For example, the macula is part of the retina.

Symptoms that indicate a retinal detachment are sudden visual field loss and light flashes. Detachment is much more likely, especially in old age, since the vitreous body in our eye can liquefy with age. This causes the retina to be undermined and lifted from its subsurface.

Retinal detachment is an ophthalmological emergency and must be surgically treated promptly.


The cornea is the outermost layer of the eyeball. Together with the lens, it ensures the refraction of light and the focusing of rays on the retina. The cornea is slightly oval and curvature, similar to a contact lens. If the curvature is irregular due to astigmatism, this is called astigmatism.

The varying degrees of curvature means that light rays are not bundled as a sharp point on the retina but rather as a blurred line. In addition to blurred vision, those affected often complain of eye pain and headaches due to astigmatism. The cornea’s curvature can be treated with specially ground glasses or hard contact lenses.


Keratoconus is a unique form of corneal disease. The cornea thins and protrudes. In the final stage, the cornea looks cone-shaped. The reason for this is unknown. Those affected are usually short-sighted and often describe it as starting in one eye and then spreading to the second eye.

Special lenses or, in the advanced stage, a cornea transplant are possible treatments.


An acute, bacterial inflammation of the eyelid gland is referred to in medicine as hordeolum or stye. Patients report pain in the area of ​​inflammation. Styes are usually recognized as a red, swollen lump on the upper or lower eyelid with a central pus spot. Some secretion may escape from this. Unlike chalazia, styes can appear on different glands in the eye.

Barley grains are treated with a local antibiotic and heat radiation.


Visually, a chalazion is very similar to a stye. A chalazion is an inflammation of the Meibomian gland. This is on the eyelid, towards the nose. If this gland is clogged, one speaks of a hailstone or, in technical terms, a chalazion. This is usually painless and is only treated with heat radiation.

Retinopathia Pigmentosa (Retinitis Pigmentosa)

Retinopathy pigmentosa, also known as retinitis pigmentosa, is an inherited disease that often leads to blindness. Our retina converts light rays into electrical signals that enable us to perceive our environment. The rods and cones are two important types of cells that contribute to this. Rods are particularly good at night vision because they perceive minor differences in light, while cones are more responsible for colour vision.

If a person falls ill with retinopathy pigmentosa, these cells die off. Symptoms vary depending on which cells are more affected. If the rods die, the field of vision becomes narrower and narrower, so you can see your surroundings through a “peephole” that gets smaller and smaller. Later, the cones can also die off, making it harder to perceive colours and contrasts. There is no therapy.

Endocrine Orbitopathy

As a result of some autoimmune diseases, such as Graves ‘ disease, there is an increase in fatty or connective tissue behind the eyeball. This increase in size pushes the eyeball further and further outwards, making the eyes protrude.

As a result, the mobility of the eyeball is disturbed. Double vision may occur. The underlying disease is usually treated, for example, the thyroid in Graves’ disease. Those affected should adhere to a strict smoking ban if possible since the risk of endocrine orbitopathy is eight times higher in people who smoke.


Conjunctivitis, also known as conjunctivitis, is a prevalent, common condition affecting people of all ages. The causes are varied, from pathogens such as viruses or bacteria to allergies.

Those affected often describe a foreign body sensation in the eye and avoid light. The typical reddening of the eye comes from the increased blood flow to the vessels. If the cornea is also affected, it is called keratoconjunctivitis, which can be very painful.

Depending on the cause, treatment is given with eye drops, which are intended to help remove the pathogens from the eye, or with antibiotics.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common eye diseases in Germany. It is a disease of the retina as a result of poorly controlled or long-standing diabetes mellitus. Elevated blood sugar levels damage the smallest blood vessels, responsible for supplying the retina with oxygen and nutrients. As a result, the retina is no longer adequately supplied. Protein deposits, water accumulation (macular oedema) and small haemorrhages in the retina can occur.

While sufferers often do not notice symptoms initially, visual disturbances and blurred vision develop over time. In the long term, there is a risk of vision loss without appropriate treatment. Ophthalmological check-ups are, therefore, particularly important for people with diabetes – because the progression of diabetic retinopathy can usually be prevented in the early stages.

Lidrandentzündung (Blepharitis)

As the name suggests, eyelid edge inflammation (blepharitis) is an inflammation of the eyelid edge. This is usually caused by a bacterial infection (often with staphylococci), but viruses (e.g. herpes simplex) or allergic reactions (e.g. to cosmetics) can also be the cause. A disruption in the flow of sebum from the sebaceous glands (meibomian glands) or skin diseases such as rosacea can also result in inflammation of the eyelids.

Redness, swelling, crusts, and scales on the affected area are often recognized as blepharitis. After sleeping, the eyes are often sticky. The skin is irritated, it can burn and itch – a foreign body sensation and dry or watery eyes are also possible. Small purulent abscesses can develop, and occasional eyelashes falling out are also possible symptoms.

Inflammation of the eyelid margins is often chronic or recurs several times. Depending on the cause, treatment is carried out with antibiotics or red light radiation, for example. Hygiene also plays a decisive role in therapy; for example, the area must be cleaned several times daily.

Squinting (strabismus)

Strabismus, medically known as strabismus, is a visual impairment that can affect one or both eyes. The eyes (permanently or repeatedly when focusing) do not look in the same direction. Different types of squinting are possible, such as inside squinting, outside squinting or rolling of the eye. The cause of the wrong eye position is a balance disorder of the eye muscles, so the coordination of the two eyes is unsuccessful. The brain cannot combine the two resulting images, causing sufferers to see double vision. If a child’s strabismus remains untreated, the eye function can atrophy on one side. Therefore, strabismus always requires early treatment.

While (often congenital) disorders of the eye muscles lead to permanent symptoms, squinting can also occur temporarily, for example, with excessive alcohol consumption or fatigue. However, sudden squinting can also result from a stroke, a circulatory disorder or damage to the cranial nerve – this is always a medical emergency.

Yellow eyes

If the whites of the eyes turn yellow, this is often a disease symptom. The bile pigment bilirubin is usually responsible for the yellowing of the eyeballs. The dye often gets into the body tissue and causes a yellow skin discolouration. One then speaks of jaundice (icterus).

Possible causes of yellow eyes are diseases of the liver (e.g. hepatitis, liver cirrhosis or liver inflammation), damage to the bile (e.g. caused by gallstones) or the metabolic disorder Meulengracht’s disease. However, certain forms of anaemia (low blood count), infections, or medication can also increase bilirubin levels. Yellow eyes should always be checked out by a doctor so that the cause can be treated appropriately.

Watery Eyes (Epiphora)

Tear fluid is an important protective function for our eyes because it flushes out foreign bodies and prevents them from drying out. Constantly watery eyes are not an independent disease but can have various reasons. The eyes are often temporarily irritated by foreign bodies, such as contact lenses, pollen dust or even a draft. Furthermore, screen work, infrequent blinking and poorly fitted glasses can overstrain the eyes and cause tears. Dry eyes, i.e. the lack of tear fluid, are also a frequent reason for watery eyes.

Inflammation and diseases of the eyes can also irritate and thus stimulate the flow of tears. Other disease-related causes are increased blood sugar levels in diabetes mellitus, allergies, colds or an incorrect composition of the tear fluid, for example, due to advanced age or hormonal changes. Treatment always depends on the cause.

Red Green weakness

Red-green colour blindness is the most common form of colour vision deficiency. Men are affected far more often than women. In the case of red-green blindness (dichromatic), “cones” in the eye responsible for seeing red or green colours are missing due to a genetic defect. Therefore, those affected cannot perceive the respective colours and cannot distinguish between the two colours. If there is only a red-green weakness, the function of the cones is restricted, making it difficult to distinguish between the two colours, red and green.

Significantly rarer forms of colour vision deficiency are blue-yellow weakness or complete colour blindness. To diagnose such an impairment of vision, colour charts are used, among other things. Red-green weakness can be treated with the help of special glasses.

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