Eye Disease Care

Unlike the rest of our body, the eyes rarely hurts when something is wrong. Eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and conditions caused by diabetes and high blood pressure usually present with no visual symptoms in the early stages. Overtime, though, they can cause permanent damage to our eyes. A comprehensive eye examination checks the internal and external health of your eyes, checks for disease and does a refractive visual analysis to see if a change to your prescription is necessary. For children, a regular eye exam can help determine if the eyes are developing properly. If there is a problem that goes untreated it can lead to learning disorders and vision loss.

Protect yourself and your family by making regular preventative eye exams an important part of your routine health care!

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. Redness, swelling, styes, cysts, and flaky crusts at the eyelid margin characterize it. Symptoms include scratchy, swollen, tender, and irritated eyes. Blepharitis can be caused by various bacteria and be chronic or acute in presentation. People with skin conditions such as rosacea, acne, and eczema are more prone to have blepharitis flare ups. Poor facial hygiene can also be a contributing factor.

An eye doctor will diagnose the specific type of blepharitis during an eye exam. Treatment options are abundant and include over the counter remedies and prescription eyedrops and ointments. Occasionally, minor eyelid surgery is necessary to remove cysts when topical treatments are unsuccessful. Blepharitis, in some cases, requires ongoing treatment along with eyelid hygiene to maintain eye comfort and appearance.

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the internal lens of the eye. As the lens becomes cloudier, vision becomes blurry and distorted. Decreasing eyesight clarity, ghosting, and glare problems are common symptoms of a cataract condition. Risk factors for developing cataracts are:

– Aging
– Diabetes
– Medications
– Eye trauma and surgeries
– Smoking
– Unprotected excessive sunlight exposure

Most people will have a slight cataract in one or both eyes by age 60. Most cataracts progress slowly over 5-15 years. Doctors are most concerned with how cataracts may impair a person’s driving eyesight skills for safety concerns. An annual eye exam is recommended for people over age 60 to measure eyesight and evaluate overall eye health too. Remarkable new cataract surgeries are used to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a lens implant that is calculated to provide precise vision.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can be either an irritation or an infection of the membrane that covers the white of the eye and the inside lining of the eyelid. It has become commonly known as “red eye” or “pink eye” due to the significant blood vessel inflammation that can occur.

Allergies and other irritants like air pollution, eye make up, and contact lenses cause irritation conjunctivitis. Infection conjunctivitis has two categories – viral and bacterial. The viral type usually accompanies a cold, fever, sore throat, or flu and is characterized by eye redness and a watery discharge. The bacterial type presents with eye redness, a mucous like discharge, and is usually caused by a staph or strep bacteria.

An eye doctor is best trained and equipped to make the correct diagnosis of the type of conjunctivitis. Treatments for most cases of conjunctivitis include prescription eyedrops and eye hygiene methods. In some cases, conjunctivitis can progress to more serious eye condition and vision damage so professional evaluation is important.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the result of diabetes weakening effects on the blood vessels within the lining of the inner eye called the retina. Bleeding and the growth of fragile new blood vessels in the retina will destroy eyesight. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults in the USA. Vision symptoms are usually rare in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy however intermittent blur and seeing spots in the vision can be warning signs. Risk factors for diabetic retinopathy are:

– Poorly controlled diabetes
– Hypertension
– Smoking
– Being diabetic for 10+ years

Annual eye exams are strongly recommended for all diabetic patients. Eye doctors use various exam methods and instrumentation to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. Many eye doctors now use retinal photography methods to detect retinal blood vessel problems and to monitor changes from exam to exam. Treatments for diabetic retinopathy, including laser eye surgery to cauterize blood vessels that leak blood into the retina, can be very successful. Early diagnosis is certainly the key.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is an eye condition known as keratitis sicca. A stinging, burning, and scratchy feeling of the eyes characterize it. Vision can be subsequently blurred when flare-ups occur. The most common cause of dry eye is a change in the tear chemistry of the eye. Two types of tears are produced – lubricating tears are the type which keep eyes moist and comfortable, while reflex tears are the type which are produced secondarily when a person is emotional or in pain. Dry eye is typically a deficiency of the lubricating tear type which then triggers the reflex tears to be secreted but this tear type is poorer in moisturizing qualities. Glands located in the eyelids are constantly producing tears. Risk factors for dry eye are:

– Women over 40
– Low humidity conditions
– Medications
– Eyelid problems
– Rosacea
– Contact lens use

An eye doctor will use a microscope to examine the tear film on the eye. Special eyedrop dyes are employed to help the doctor to detect dry spots, measure tear quality and volume then make a diagnosis. Treatment of dry eye includes certain over-the-counter eyedrops, eyelid hygiene methods, prescription eyedrops including mild steroids, dissolving tear implants, and punctal plugs. Eye infection risk is greater when a dry eye condition is not properly managed.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve becomes damaged which then results in blindness. Once thought to be only a high eye pressure problem, glaucoma is now known to be a more complex condition. New medical research has found that some people’s optic nerves are more vulnerable to an abnormal pressure gradient within the eye. When this occurs, the optic nerve tissue slowly dies and vision is damaged.

Open angle glaucoma, the most common form, has no symptoms until a substantial amount of peripheral vision is lost. Risk factors for glaucoma are:

– Aging
– African ancestry
– Family history
– Diabetes
– Hypertension
– Certain anatomical eye features

An adult eye exam includes an eye pressure measurement called tonometry as well as an evaluation of the optic nerve. An eye doctor may become suspicious of glaucoma during this exam and order special tests to help in making the diagnosis of glaucoma. Treatments for glaucoma include various categories of prescription eyedrops that affect the eye pressure gradient. Eye surgery is also utilized when other glaucoma treatments fail to control the vision loss.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an eye disease, which causes central vision loss usually after age 50. The macula is the center portion of the retina and is referred to as the 20/20 eyesight area. When this macula area becomes compromised the vision becomes very distorted. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Eye doctors use various examination methods and instrumentation to examine the macula to make a diagnosis. Risk factors for macular degeneration are:

– Over age 60
– Smoking
– Obesity
– Caucasian
– Female
– Family history

Having an annual eye exam is important for adults to allow the doctor to examine the macula and to measure vision. New research has shown that certain vitamins and proper sunglass protection for ultraviolet sunlight exposure may be helpful to lessen the risk of macular degeneration. New treatments for macular degeneration have shown promise for saving and, in some cases, improving eyesight. Early diagnosis and continued observation by an eye doctor is crucial to protecting eyesight in macular degeneration patients.

Retinal Tears and Detachments

Retinal tears and detachments are conditions where the inner lining of the eye called the retina is damaged. A retinal tear describes a small break in this lining whereas a retinal detachment describes a much larger separation of the retina tissues. Aging, eye trauma, eye surgery, or being quite nearsighted may cause retinal tears or detachments. Symptoms of these retinal conditions are:

– Seeing flashes and/or floaters
– Sudden blurry vision
– Seeing an area of dark vision

An eye exam is very important when these symptoms occur as permanent eyesight loss may occur if the retina problem is not treated in a timely manner. Various new methods of retinal surgery are used successfully to preserve eyesight but timely treatment is required.