Archive for the ‘eye disorders’ Category

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. The eye’s macula (small part of the retina) deteriorates and fine details in central vision become difficult to see. Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process. There are different kinds of macular problems, but the most common is age-related macular degeneration.

Symptoms of AMD – Blurriness, dark areas or distortion in your central vision, and perhaps permanent loss of your central vision. It usually does not affect your side, or peripheral vision.

Who is at risk?  Age is a major risk factor for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Other risk factors for AMD include:

  • Smoking. Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
  • Race. AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
  • Family history. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.

Causes of AMD – include the formation of deposits called drusen under the retina, and in some cases, the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. With or without treatment, macular degeneration alone almost never causes total blindness. People with more advanced cases of macular degeneration continue to have useful vision using their side, or peripheral vision.

The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually start without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. Consult with your eye doctor is you have any symptoms of macular degeneration.

Graphic Courtesy of National Eye Institute

What are cataracts?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Cataracts are the the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40.  In fact, it effects 22 million Americans in that age range currently.  According to Prevent Blindness America (PBA), there are more cases of cataracts worldwide than there are of glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy combined.  Therefore it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of cataracts so that you may seek medical help.

What are cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. When first forming on the lens the cataract has little impact on vision.  As the cataract progresses however, a patient may notice blurriness.  A cataract may make light from the sun or a lamp seem too bright or glaring. Colors may not appear as bright as they once did.

What causes cataracts?

No one knows for sure why the proteins in the eye clump together to form cataracts but there are factors that researchers have identified as risk factors that can cause cataracts.

  • Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and other sources
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  • Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Significant alcohol consumption
  • High myopia
  • Family history

What are the treatments for cataracts?

When symptoms begin to appear, you may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids. Cataracts surgery is also very successful once the cataract has progressed enough to impair vision.  More than 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year, according to PBA. Nine out of 10 people who have cataract surgery regain very good vision, somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40.

Dry Eye: Symptoms and Causes

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Have you been suffering from any of the following eye symptoms: stinging or burning, a gritty feeling, pain and redness, a stringy discharge of the mucus,  fatigue or blurry vision? If you have dealt with any of these symptoms and they persist or recur you will want to get an accurate diagnosis from your eye care professional.  You may be experiencing chronic dry eye or dry eye disorder.  Let’s look at who is most at risk for this disorder, its symptoms and causes.

 

Who is at Risk?

While dry eye can affect anyone at any age,  the elderly frequently experience this chronic syndrome.  Nearly five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye. Of these, more than three million are women and more than one and a half million are men. Post menopausal women are also at a higher risk for dry eye.  Dry eyes are also associated with some medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disorders and vitamin A deficiency. Certain antidepressants, high blood pressure medication, antihistamines and decongestants can also put a patient at risk for dry eye.

 

Diagnosis?

Once you have decided that the symptoms mentioned above are ones that you are experiencing you will want an accurate diagnosis.  Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing, with special emphasis on the evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes, may include: taking the patient’s history, external examination of the eye, eyelid, and cornea, and measurement of the quantity and quality of tears. Your doctor will then recommend a course of treatment appropriate for your specific case of dry eye.

Night Blindness

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Do you have difficulty driving at night, seeing clearly in low light or have trouble transitioning from bright light to dim light?  You may be suffering from Night Blindness, also known as nyctalopia.  Night Blindness is a misnomer- in that people with this affliction are NOT blind but rather have vision impairment in low light environments.  Let’s look at some of the symptoms, causes and possible treatments of Night Blindness.

  • Symptoms: The main symptom of night blindness is difficulty seeing in the dark. In fact most people notice that they have trouble seeing while driving at night.  Another symptom includes an inability to transition from light to dark situations. Seniors are more likely to suffer from night blindness than children or young adults.
  • Causes: A number of eye conditions can cause night blindness, including:
      • nearsightedness: blurred vision when looking at faraway objects
      • cataracts: a clouding of the eye’s lens
      • retinitis pigmentosa: when dark pigment collects in your retina, creating tunnel vision
      • Usher syndrome: a genetic condition that affects both hearing and vision
      • Vitamin A deficiency: Vitamin A, also called retinol, plays a role in transforming nerve impulses into images in the retina. The retina is a light-sensitive area in the back of your eye.
      • Diabetes: Patients who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels or diabetes also have a higher risk of developing eye diseases, such as cataracts.
  • Treatments: Seek an eye exam from your doctor in order to diagnose night blindness. You may also be asked to give a blood sample. Blood testing can measure your vitamin A and glucose levels. Night blindness caused by nearsightedness, cataracts, or vitamin A deficiency is treatable. Corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or contacts, can improve nearsighted vision both during the day and at night. Let your doctor know if you still have trouble seeing in dim light even with corrective lenses.