Common Eye Conditions
Cataracts occur when the natural lens inside the eye develops opacification, discoloration, or haze. Causes of cataracts include: aging, poor nutrition, UV light exposure, certain medications, infection, inflammation, trauma, or inheritance. Natural aging of the lens is the most common cause of cataracts. Typical complaints from cataracts include: poor night vision, reduced vision, glare, poor color discrimination, and light sensitivity.
Yearly comprehensive eye examinations including dilation are necessary to detect and monitor cataracts. Treatment for early cataracts involves providing the appropriate spectacle prescription. This prescription may need to be changed more frequently since cataracts typically cause many shifts as they develop. In addition, UV protective lenses and sunglasses may be recommended. When surgery is necessary, we will schedule your procedure with a cataract surgeon and provide postoperative care in our office.
Glaucoma is a disease typically associated with increased pressure inside the eye resulting in optic nerve damage and loss of vision. Many times, the disease has no symptoms. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness. The most common form of glaucoma develops later in life. People with a higher risk for the disease are African Americans, Hispanics, and people with a family history of glaucoma. Not all patients with high pressure in the eye have glaucoma; and some with normal pressure still develop the disease. Other forms of glaucoma exist and can occur at any age.
Yearly comprehensive eye exams with measurement of intraocular pressure and computerized visual field testing are necessary for early detection. To monitor the disease process, we use scanning laser polarimetry to carefully measure nerve damage in the eye; digital retinal photography to monitor any optic nerve changes; corneal pachymetry, and applanation tonometry to determine intraocular pressure; and computerized visual field testing to quantify and follow peripheral vision loss. We typically use topical ocular medications to treat this condition.
Macular degeneration is when the central most area of the retina becomes structurally compromised or unable to function properly. The dry form of macular degeneration is a slow progressive damage under the retinal tissue. In the wet form, the change is rapid and due to abnormal blood vessel growth. Patients with macular degeneration may experience: central distortions or waviness, central black spots, and reduction in central vision. These changes can severely affect a patient’s lifestyle by interfering with reading, driving, and many other daily activities. Yearly comprehensive eye examinations including dilation are necessary to detect and monitor macular degeneration. We use optical coherence tomography (OCT) to scan for structural changes within the macula and digital retinal photography to document these changes. Treatment involves proper nutritional supplements. If retinal surgery or ocular injections become necessary, we coordinate your care with a retinal surgeon.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye is a condition in which the quantity or quality of tears produced is not sufficient to properly lubricate the eye. Normal aging of the eye, medical conditions, and environmental factors can increase the risk of developing this condition. Sufferers of this condition may experience: scratchiness, burning, grittiness, blurred vision, eye pain, watery eyes, or chronic sinus infections. Treatment of dry eye depends on the severity of the condition. In mild cases artificial tears and ocular lubricants may be sufficient. In more advanced cases, we may prescribe medications such as Restasis to decrease the inflammation in the eye and increase tear production. In many cases, we utilize punctal occlusion to maximize the tears available to the ocular surface.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to produce or properly use insulin. Diabetics develop cataracts much earlier, have a much higher risk of developing glaucoma, and may develop damage to the retina. Many times, damage to this area of the eye may not be reversible. Due to the loss of cells which line the small capillaries in the retina, these vessels become weak and leak blood or fluid. As a result, the retinal tissue does not receive proper nutrition and is compromised. Treatment for diabetics involves careful annual dilated ocular examination of the eye and retina. If retinopathy is noted, treatment is based upon the stage of the retinopathy. In non-proliferative retinopathy, areas of the retina may develop thickening or swelling within the retinal tissue. If this occurs in the central area of the retina, macular edema may lead to a reduction in vision and may indicate the need for laser treatment or ocular injections by a retinal surgeon. We use digital retinal photography and computerized visual fields to monitor the appearance and function of the retina. If the disease progresses to the point in which proliferative retinopathy occurs, extensive laser of the peripheral retina may be necessary. Occasionally, intraocular surgery may also be indicated if bleeding within the eye becomes severe or retinal detachment becomes an issue.
Ocular allergies are a very common condition which affects people of any age. Symptoms of this condition may include: itching, redness, watery eyes, blurred vision, and swollen or tender eyelids. The condition is caused by the eyes’ immune reaction to a given substance, such as: dust, pollen, or pet hair. The inflammation process is initiated by the release of histamines stored in mast cells. We treat ocular allergies by first decreasing the exposure to the allergen. Further treatment is aimed at decreasing inflammation to reduce symptoms.
Lasik / Refractive Surgery
Lasik surgery is an option for many people to reduce the need or dependence on glasses or contact lenses. In this procedure, the cornea of the eye is reshaped with a laser to produce the desired visual correction. In addition to a comprehensive dilated examination, other tests are necessary to determine whether you are a candidate for this procedure. We check for adequate corneal thickness with corneal pachymetry. Topography is performed to provide a computerized map of the corneal surface to check for irregularities. Also, a detailed analysis for dry eye is done. Once we confirm that you are a candidate, we can schedule your procedure with a surgeon. After the procedure we will provide postoperative care for you in our office.
Soft contact lenses have long been an option for vision correction. Over the last five years, significant advancement in materials has dramatically improved the comfort and vision obtained with lenses. These new silicone hydrogel lenses provide four to five times the amount of oxygen to the eye than previous lenses. These materials are available in spherical, toric (for astigmatism), and bifocal designs. Scleral gas permeable lenses are another option. This type of contact lens can frequently provide clear vision when it cannot be obtained with soft lenses or spectacles. We use this design in fitting eyes with: keratoconus, irregular astigmatism, or corneal scarring. Bifocal options are also available in this modality. Our computerized corneal topography and custom fitting techniques typically provide very comfortable lenses as well as sharper vision.