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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. Many times vision loss can 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 treatments for diabetes, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
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 which causes the destruction of 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 these 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 the prevention of 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 is allowed to continue for too long, blindness can result.
Some persons are more likely to have glaucoma. These include persons who are older, have nearsightedness, have a family history of glaucoma, have had past eye injury, have diabetes, or have a past history of vascular shock. Also, African Americans are 6 times more likely to have the disease.
Glaucoma is treated with eye drops that lower the eye pressure. If the pressure does not fall to a low enough level with drops, then surgery may be necessary. Glaucoma surgery opens up the drainage system in the 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 disease 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 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. The new blood vessels unfortunately are accompanied by scarring and more leakage. This can lead to serious vision loss and blindness.
Early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may include:
- Decreased night vision.
- Floaters or obscuring vision.
- Blurry vision.
The condition can typically be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist during an eye exam, long before noticeable vision symptoms occur and when more treatment options are still available. Thus it is very important for those suffering from diabetes to have regular eye exams, to monitor for diabetic retinopathy and other complications.
Treatments for diabetic retinopathy vary based upon the nature and progression of the condition. The best way to preserve good vision is to vigilantly 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, with the aim of sealing off leaky blood vessels and discouraging 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 it may be naturally purged by the eye. If clouding persists, however, 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 for color perception. Macular degeneration is a disease of this very important portion of the retina. It usually affects both eyes, but often begins in one eye.
In many cases, patients are not aware of macular degeneration in one eye, because the other eye compensates for the weaker one. The most common symptoms include difficulty reading, 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 certain vitamins and nutrients may slow the progress of the disease in certain patients. If the disease is advancing, laser surgery can be 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 download and read the Macular Shield Multivitamin from Doctors Advantage.
The eye has a tear film which coats the outer layer of the eye. This tear film is very important 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.
Dry eye is not caused by a lack of tear production. In fact, during dry eye, the eye can still make so many tears that many patients complain of wet eyes and tearing with this malady. 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 in the eye doctor's office.
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 such activities as reading or working on a computer, we blink less frequently. This aggravates the symptoms of dry eyes. Sometimes environmental factors can also aggravate dry eye symptoms. Dry weather, either in hot or cold temperatures, robs the eye of needed lubricants. Cigarette smoke, fumes, dust and airborne particles are common irritants. In most patients, this condition is not associated with systemic disease.
Treatment helps in most patients. We cannot cure this condition, so treatment is an ongoing project. Usually artificial tears, available over-the-counter, 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 which 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.