Eye Diseases

Glaucoma:

The most scary thing about glaucoma is that it can steal your vision gradually and without your noticing.  The best defense against glaucoma is a regular eye examination.  Glaucoma most often strikes people over age 50. But it is recommended that during adult life everyone be tested at least once every year.  Some people with glaucoma do experience symptoms, but symptoms vary depending on the type of glaucoma.

  • Primary open-angle glaucoma 
    By far the most common type, primary open-angle glaucoma develops gradually and painlessly.  Since there are no early warning signs, it can slowly destroy your vision without you knowing it.  The first indication may only occur after some considerable vision loss.
  • Acute angle-closure glaucoma 
    This results from a sudden blockage of the drainage channels within your eye, causes a rapid build-up of pressure inside your eye accompanied by blurred vision, the appearance of colored rings around lights and sometimes extreme pain or redness in the eyes.

Cataracts:

While a comprehensive eye examination can determine for certain if you have a cataract forming, there are a number of signs and symptoms that may indicate a cataract. Among them are:

  • Gradual blurring or hazy vision where colors may seem yellowed;
  • The appearance of dark spots or shadows that seem to move when the eye moves;
  • A tendency to become more nearsighted because of increasing density of the lens;
  • Double vision in one eye only;
  • A gradual loss of color vision;
  • A stage where it is easier to see without glasses;
  • The feeling of having a film over the eyes; and
  • An increased sensitivity to glare, especially at night.

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear crystalline lens of the eye.  This prevents the lens from properly focusing light on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in a loss of vision.  A cataract is not a film that grows over the surface of the eye, as is often commonly thought.

Cataracts are most often found in persons over the age of 55, but they are also occasionally found in younger people, including newborns.

Currently, there is no proven method to prevent cataracts from forming.  If your cataract develops to a point that daily activities are affected, you will be referred to an eye surgeon who may recommend the surgical removal of the cataract.

Prescription changes in your eyewear will help you see more clearly until surgery is necessary, but surgery is the only proven means of effectively treating cataracts.  The surgery is relatively uncomplicated and has a very high success rate.

Dry Eye Syndrome:

If your eyes sting, itch or burn, you may be experiencing the common signs of “dry eye.”  A feeling of something foreign within the eye or general discomfort may also signal dry eye.

Dry eye describes eyes that do not produce enough tears.  The natural tears that your eyes produce are composed of three layers:

  • The outer oily layer, which prevents or slows evaporation of the tear film;
  • The middle watery layer; which moisturizes and nourishes the front surface of the eye; 
  • The inner mucus layer, which helps maintain a stable tear film.

Dry eye may occur because the volume of tears produced is inadequate (we all produce fewer tears as we get older, and in some cases this can lead to dry eye symptoms).  It may result because the composition of the tears has changed so that they are unstable and evaporate more quickly.

Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process.  Exposure to environmental conditions, as well as medications, such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or anti-depressant, can contribute to the symptoms of dry eye.  Or, dry eye can result from chemical or thermal burns to the eye.

Potentially significant vision loss can occur in severe cases.  Treatment includes eye lubricants medications such as Restasis, nutritional supplements, and surgical techniques such as punctual occlusion.

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