May is healthy vision month and our goal at Optometric Center and Eyewear Galleria is keep your vision healthy and consistent. Millions of Americans are currently affected by cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or some combination of these. The visual impairment caused by these conditions starts subtle and can progress to devastating levels. Routine eye examinations are essential for early detection of these common eye conditions. Here is more information about these common eye conditions:
Normal, clear lens
Cloudy lens due to cataract
Cataracts occur when the crystalline lens, which sits in the middle of the eye, becomes cloudy over time. Most cataracts are considered age-related, but common risk factors for development include: chronic UV exposure, smoking, use of steroids, and trauma. Cataracts can cause: blurred vision, glare and halos at night, difficulty distinguishing colors, and needing more light to see. Our doctors look for cataracts during every comprehensive eye exam by performing a slit lamp, or microscopic, evaluation of the lens and by using the Visionix autorefractor, which is capable of mapping opacities within the lens. Cataracts are normally monitored until they are ready to be surgically removed. During cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens, which provides a dramatic improvement in clarity of vision. We recommend yearly comprehensive eye exams to allow for early detection of cataracts as well as UV protection and refraining from smoking to reduce the risk of their development.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which is the cable connecting the eye to the brain. Glaucoma causes abnormal loss of nerve fiber tissue within the optic nerve, which results in decreasing peripheral vision (tunnel vision). The optic nerve is damaged by excessive pressure within the eye and treatment for glaucoma involves lowering eye pressure. Eye pressure is normally lowered by using eye drops but your doctor may recommend surgical methods performed by an ophthalmologist in addition to or instead of eye drops. Our doctors check patients for glaucoma in several different ways at every comprehensive eye exam: measuring eye pressure, testing peripheral vision, and assessing the optic nerve. We recommend the Optomap retinal camera to our patients to aid in detection of early optic nerve changes. Photo documentation allows our doctors to diagnose glaucoma as early as possible by comparing photos side-by-side. Most kinds of glaucoma have subtle onset and progress slowly over time. Because of this, a person is not symptomatic for glaucoma until the severity of disease is moderate to severe. It is essential to stay up to date on your annual eye exams to be screened for glaucoma.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
iWellness/OCT scan: healthy and normal
iWellness/OCT scan: Dry AMD
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in the United States for adults over the age of 50. It occurs when cellular deposits, called drusen, build up within the macula, or center of vision. These deposits cause blurred and distorted central vision. There are two forms of AMD: dry and wet. Most people with AMD have the dry form, in which drusen slowly get larger/more numerous and eventually cause atrophy of the macula tissue. The wet form of AMD is less common and more severe. This involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels that cause bleeding and severe damage within the macula. There is no cure for the dry form of AMD but it has been shown that dietary changes and supplementation recommended by your doctor can slow the progression of vision loss with dry AMD. Wet AMD is treated with injections of anti-vascular growth agent. Risk factors for AMD include: family history, UV exposure, poor diet and exercise habits, and smoking. Our doctors prefer to screen for AMD at each comprehensive exam using the Optomap retinal camera. In addition, our doctors recommend the iWellness scan to our patients. It is the most sensitive way to screen for AMD because it provides a cross-sectional scan through the macula, giving our doctors an extremely detailed look at each of the 10 individual retinal layers.
We wish all of our patients a happy healthy vision month and encourage you to schedule your comprehensive eye exam today!