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A comprehensive eye exam will evaluate how well you see and the health of your eyes. Some diseases, such as diabetes, glaucoma, and macular degeneration can result in permanent vision loss if not detected early. Vision loss can often be delayed or prevented by diagnosing these conditions before permanent vision loss occurs.
If you have diabetes or a family history of diabetes, glaucoma, or macular degeneration, you should have your eyes examined yearly. Dr. Rohr has earned a reputation of excellence as a leader in LASIK laser vision correction, cataract surgery, and comprehensive eye care, including diagnosis and treatment for diabetes, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
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Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. It is a disease that typically affects older people, but it can occur at any age. Loss of vision is preventable if the disease is detected early, and treatment is started.
The eye has about 1 million tiny nerve fibers which run from the back of the eye to the brain. These nerve fibers allow us to see. Glaucoma is a disease that destroys these fibers. It was once thought that the loss of these fibers was due strictly to high pressure in the eye. But now, it is known that even patients with normal eye pressure can have glaucoma and loss of nerve fibers.
In many patients, the disease is not noticed in the early stages because there is no pain and no noticeable change in vision. Early detection by an eye doctor is the key to preventing vision damage from glaucoma. Routine eye examinations are recommended.Types of Glaucoma
The reason that eye pressure is high in many glaucoma patients is that the drainage system in the eye is not working properly. The fluid in the eye, called aqueous humor, does not flow out of the eye as quickly as it should. The drainage system lies in a part of the eye called the angle, which is between the outer layer and the iris of the eye. This angle can be open or closed.
There are several kinds of glaucoma. The most common form of glaucoma is called chronic open-angle glaucoma. The drainage angle is open in these patients, but the eye fluid does not drain as quickly as it should. Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle closes, and almost no eye fluid can escape. During closed-angle glaucoma, eye pressure can get very high, and there is pain. Angle-closure glaucoma is an emergency and must be treated immediately. If the high pressure continues for too long, blindness can result.
Some persons are more likely to have glaucoma. These include older persons, those with nearsightedness, have a family history of glaucoma, have had a past eye injury, have diabetes, or have a history of vascular shock. Also, African Americans are six times more likely to have the disease.
Glaucoma is treated with eye drops that lower eye pressure. If the pressure does not fall to a low enough level with drops, surgery may be necessary. Glaucoma surgery opens up the drainage system at an angle so that the eye fluid can flow more freely.
Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a common disease in which blood-sugar levels are chronically too high. The condition has many related complications and several eye diseases among them. The most common eye complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of adult blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood-sugar levels affect the functionality of blood vessels in the retina (light-sensing cells in the eye). In the early phases of the disease, capillaries will leak blood or fluid. This can cause swelling in the retina (which may result in blurring of central vision), and it can leak into the vitreous humor (the fluid surrounding the retina), causing floaters or obscuring vision.
During the beginning stage, serious vision damage is less likely; however, it can lead to a more advanced stage of the disease, called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In this form, blood vessels in the retina actually close off. New blood vessels grow to make up for the lack of blood flow to the retina. Unfortunately, the new blood vessels are accompanied by scarring and more leakage. This can lead to profound vision loss and blindness.Early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may include:
- Decreased night vision
- Floaters or obscuring vision
- Blurry vision
An ophthalmologist can typically diagnose the condition during an eye exam, long before noticeable vision symptoms occur and when more treatment options are still available. It is essential for those who have diabetes to have regular eye exams, to monitor for diabetic retinopathy and other complications.Treatment:
Treatments for diabetic retinopathy vary based upon the nature and progression of the condition. The best way to preserve good vision is to control blood-sugar levels, lessening the chance of retinopathy, and impeding its rate of advancement.
Once the disease is in advanced stages, the ophthalmologist may choose a type of laser surgery called pan-retinal photocoagulation. This technique burns many tiny dots across the retina, intending to seal off leaky blood vessels and discourage further blood vessel growth. This surgery does not cure diabetic retinopathy, but it can help to save remaining vision.
If the vitreous humor has become clouded by blood leakage, there is a chance the eye may naturally purge it. Furthermore, if clouding persists, a vitrectomy, a surgical removal of the vitreous humor, may be necessary. The ophthalmologist replaces it with a saline solution, and the eye naturally replenishes the vitreous fluid over time. This procedure can restore vision that has been obscured in the vitreous; however, any vision loss due to retinal damage or detachment is not restored.
If you have diabetes or are experiencing any symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a consultation.
The macula is the tiny central part of the retina, which is responsible for fine detail vision and color perception. Macular degeneration is a disease of a significant portion of the retina. It usually affects both eyes but often begins in one.
In many cases, patients are unaware of macular degeneration in one eye because the other eye compensates for the weaker one. The most common symptoms include difficulty reading and seeing up close or distorted lines. It occurs most often in people over fifty years of age. If you notice a dimness of vision in one or both eyes or if straight lines appear distorted, you should see an eye doctor immediately. There is no cure for macular degeneration, but recent research suggests that specific vitamins and nutrients may slow the progression of the disease in certain patients. If the condition advances, laser surgery can also be used to slow the disease.
If you are over fifty, have your eyes examined regularly. If you have symptoms, report them to your eye doctor immediately before the disease progresses too far.
To learn more, read about the Macular Shield Multivitamin from Doctors Advantage.
The eye has a tear film that coats the outer layer of the eye. This tear film is vital for the lubrication and comfort of the eye as well as for the clarity of vision. As we age, this protective tear film diminishes and leaves the eye more exposed to the drying effects of the air, wind, and dust. In many people, the dryness is worse in the afternoon and evening.
A lack of tear production does not cause dry eye. In fact, the eye can still make so many tears that many patients complain of wet eyes and tearing with this malady during dry eye. That's because the dryness causes the eye to produce more tears in an effort to replace the tear film. Dry eye is probably the most common problem seen with ophthalmologists.
Dry eye symptoms include burning, stinging, or a gritty sensation which may come and go depending on many factors. Itching, tearing, and light sensitivity may also occur. Occasionally long strings of mucus can be stretched from a dry eye.
Blinking is very important for the maintenance of the tear film. When performing activities such as reading or working on a computer, we blink less frequently. This aggravates the symptoms of dry eyes. Sometimes environmental factors like dry weather, in either hot or cold temperatures, can rob the eye of needed lubricants. Cigarette smoke, fumes, dust, and airborne particles are common irritants that can magnify dry eye symptoms. In most patients, this condition is not associated with systemic disease.
There is no cure for this condition, so ongoing treatment is necessary. Over-the-counter artificial tears usually help soothe the eyes and give temporary relief. These artificial tears work for only an hour or two, at best, and must be repeated at frequent intervals. Ointments last longer, but they blur vision and are most effective at night.
Newer techniques to treat dry eye include plugs that block the tear duct. These plugs can be placed in the two tear ducts, top and bottom, in both eyes, or in only the lower ducts. Some test plugs are also available, which dissolve a few days after insertion. If the dry eye symptoms disappear when the temporary plugs are inserted, then permanent plugs should be considered as a treatment option.