Below is information about some of the more common eye issues to help enhance your understanding of your eyes.
A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens in the eye. The symptoms include blurred vision, glare, light sensitivity, and double vision with one eye open. A cataract is diagnosed after a complete eye examination. The only treatment for cataracts is to remove them with surgery. Surgery should be considered when vision is decreased such that it interferes with daily activities. Improved vision is the result in approximately 95% of surgeries, however each individual’s surgery should be discussed with their ophthalmologist.
Contact lenses may provide a safe and effective alternative to eyeglasses when used with proper care and maintenance. They are thin, clear disks of plastic that float on the tear film of the cornea. They are used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. There are hard and soft lenses, which include daily wear, extended wear and tinted lenses. Some individuals require contact lens fittings to get the most comfortable pair of lenses. Proper care of lenses includes removing them before going to bed and cleaning and storing with the appropriate lens solution. Not doing so may lead to serious infections. The appropriate lens care will be discussed in clinic.
Nearsightedness (myopia): close objects appear clear but distant objects are blurred. It is inherited and can be diagnosed at any age, but typically begins to cause blurred vision 8-12 years of age. Patients who are very nearsighted should have an eye exam once a year to ensure that no retinal abnormalities exist.</p>
Farsightedness (hyperopia): close objects appear more blurred than distant objects. Individuals who are only mildly hyperopic typically do not need glasses when they are younger. The age at which there is a need for correction is very individualized.
Astigmatism: The front of the eye is mostly spherical, however sometimes it curves more in one direction resulting in a shape somewhat like a football. This alteration in shape can cause a distortion both at near and distance vision. It can occur with both nearsightedness and farsightedness.
Presbyopia: Difficulty seeing at near around 40 years of age. The lens in the eye changes shape easily at a young age to allow the ability to see at near and in the distance. As the lens ages it becomes more rigid and can no longer change shape to allow the ability to see at near. It can occur with nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve (which is a bundle of nerves that carries visual images to the brain), which causes visual field loss and possible blindness. An individual typically is unaware he/she has glaucoma until the disease is in the advanced stage. A complete eye exam with other screening tests, such as a visual field test is necessary to diagnose glaucoma. It is important to diagnose and treat glaucoma early to prevent vision loss. An individual who has a family history of glaucoma should have an exam as this is an important risk factor for the development of glaucoma. The methods of treating glaucoma include eye drops, laser treatment and possible surgery.
Floaters and Flashes
Floaters are small specks or cobweb appearing images in your field of vision which are more visible when looking at a plain background like the blue sky or blank wall. They are a result of condensation of the gel in the eye. These clumps of gel move with eye movement and cast a shadow on the retina that create the black images seen. Sometimes these clumps are attached to the retina and can tug on the retina to cause flashes of light to be seen. Floaters are typically a benign condition, however can sometimes be a sign of a possible retinal tear or detachment. Any new or multiple floaters or flashes of light should alert an individual to schedule an eye exam.
Eyelid drooping can occur as a result of excess skin, disinserted eyelid muscle, or nerve damage. Eyelid drooping can interfere with an individual’s visual field and cause blurred vision. A cause of eyelid drooping should be determined as certain systemic diseases can be associated with this condition. There are surgeries available to correct certain forms of eyelid drooping.
Diabetes is a systemic disease with elevated levels of blood sugar that could affect an individual’s sight. The elevated levels of blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels in the eye, leading to the development of new, friable blood vessels that can bleed easily and cause swelling of the retina (nerve layer of the eye). These changes can cause decreased vision or blindness, which if caught earlier can possibly be treated to help prevent the progression of vision loss. All patients with diabetes should have a complete eye exam at least once a year.