Pathologies of Structures Related to the Eye: Vocabulary

Pathologies of Structures Related to the Eye: Vocabulary
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  • 0:01 Conjunctiva
  • 0:33 Conjunctivitis & Hemorrhage
  • 1:54 Xerophthalmia & Dacryoadenitis
  • 3:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Pink eye, dry eye, and more! Eye don't know what to say. There's a lot of problems our eyes can have. This lesson teaches you the proper medical terminology for all of these and more!


The next time you look in the mirror, note how your eyes seem to have this glossy quality to them as light reflects off of them. Do you know, at least in part, why this is the case? It's because your eyeballs and the interior surface of the eyelids are covered by a thin, transparent, delicate, mucous membrane called conjunctiva.

This, and the lacrimal (or tear) gland, which keeps your eyes moist, can be troubled in several conditions this lesson defines.

Conjunctivitis & Hemorrhage

One of these conditions is called conjunctivitis, the inflammation of the conjunctiva, where '-itis,' in conjunctivitis, means 'inflammation.' Conjunctivitis is otherwise commonly called pink eye because of the inflammation (or irritation) of small blood vessels in the conjunctiva.

You know how you turn red when you get angry or irritated and the blood vessels in your head pop out as well? Well, inflamed blood vessels are simply irritated blood vessels, and they pop out to cause this pinkish-reddish hue to the otherwise normally white parts of the eye. Pink eye can be caused by many things, including infections and allergic reactions.

Now, if the blood vessels in the conjunctiva burst open and start bleeding out, this can cause something called subconjunctival hemorrhage, hemorrhage (or bleeding) between the conjunctiva and sclera, the sclera being the whites of your eyes that the conjunctiva covers. The 'sub-' in 'subconjunctival' is a prefix that means 'under,' like sub-marine. This means everything bleeds out into the space underneath the conjunctiva.

While such bleeding may look alarming to you as you look in the mirror, it's usually harmless and can be caused by everything from trauma to simply sneezing a little too hard.

Xeropthalmia & Dacryoadenitis

If you think I'm done talking about conditions that cause your eyes to turn red, you're mistaken. I've got another one for you.

It's the all-too-famous dry eye, or in doctor speak, xerophthalmia, where 'xero-' means 'dry' and '-ophthalmia' refers to some pathological condition of the eye. What's really dry in dry eyes? The conjunctiva and the cornea, the cornea being the transparent part of your eye that covers the iris, which is the colorful portion of the eye.

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