SAFEGUARD YOUR EYE HEALTH WITH ANNUAL EYE EXAMS
Eye disease and conditions rarely exhibit signs or symptoms, and can’t be diagnosed without the help of a professional. To help keep an eye out for trouble, we suggest all patients undergo a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year.
COMMON EYE CONDITIONS & DISEASES
There are several common eye conditions or diseases that often go undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, without regular eye exams.
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)
When the macula (central part of the retina) becomes damaged, it can cause central vision loss. This damage may be caused by age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in people 50 and older.
There are two types of AMD, dry and wet:
- Dry AMD is the more common form of AMD, affecting around 80% of people with this condition. It occurs when the macula thins and fatty proteins called drusen begin to grow, impairing central vision. Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment for dry AMD.
- Wet AMD is less common but more severe and typically progresses more quickly than dry AMD, resulting in rapid vision loss. With wet AMD, new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina, which can leak and scar the macula.
Usually, people with AMD don’t notice something is wrong until their vision is already severely compromised. To help catch problems such as AMD as soon as possible, make sure you are visiting your optometrist for annual eye exams.
Cataracts cause the lens in the eye to become cloudy as proteins begin to break down, slowly impairing vision. Many of us will develop cataracts as we grow older, which is why cataracts are common in patients over 60. However, some patients may begin to develop cataracts in their 40s.
When your lenses begin to cloud, it can cause your vision to blur or increase your sensitivity to light. You may also develop double vision or notice everything appears slightly yellowed.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 years old. However, if you take preventative measures and seek treatment as soon as possible, the condition can usually be prevented or at least mitigated.
Glaucoma occurs when the eye’s optic nerve becomes damaged. This can happen from the fluid in your eye, called aqueous humor, has trouble draining. When fluid builds up, your eye’s internal pressure (intraocular pressure or IOP) will rise, crushing the optic nerve and slowly damaging it over time.
- Primary open-angle glaucoma develops gradually and occurs when your eye’s drainage ducts become partially clogged. This causes your IOP to slowly rise, putting pressure on the optic nerve and slowly damaging it. Usually, this type of glaucoma isn’t noticeable in the early stages as it is typically painless and vision loss doesn’t occur until the later stages. The best way to prevent glaucoma is to visit us for a comprehensive eye exam to test for early signs and symptoms.
- Angle-closure glaucoma happens much more suddenly and occurs when the drainage canals become completely blocked, causing your IOP to rise quickly. This type of glaucoma requires immediate medical attention.
ICARE HANDHELD TONOMETER
We use the handheld Icare tonometer to test your IOP and check for early signs of glaucoma. The Icare tonometer does not require anesthesia and is less intrusive than the “air puff” test.
This convenient, handheld device allows you the freedom to sit, stand, or lay down during the test – whichever is most comfortable for you. Additionally, the test is quick, and most patients report no pain or discomfort.
FLASHES & FLOATERS
Floaters can appear like small dots or specks in your vision, seeming to float in front of your eye. They are clumps of cells within the vitreous (or jelly-like substance that fills your eye) that cast shadows on your retina.
Usually, floaters are not serious and tend to break down on their own. Severe floaters can be removed surgically, but the procedure is risky and generally unnecessary.
Flashes might appear as flashing lights or streaks of lightning in your field of vision. They sometimes present themselves as “seeing stars” after you hit your head.
Flashes occur when the vitreous rubs and pulls on the retina.
If you are concerned about your ocular health and would like more information about various eye diseases and conditions, please book an appointment.