Eye Diseases

Blepharitis

 

What is Blepharitis?

Causes of Blepharitis

Blepharitis is a chronic or long term inflammation of the eyelids.  Blepharitis is usually not serious, and can often be treated easily. If left untreated, however, it can result in discomfort, even leading to more serious problems.

Among the most common causes of blepharitis are bacterial infections, excess oil production by the glands of the eyelids, poor lid hygiene, and/or allergic reactions.

Symptoms

Mild Cases

  • Dandruff of the scalp

  • Skin conditions such as acne

  • Greasy flakes or scales around the base of the eyelashes

  • Mild redness of the eyelids

  • Roughness of the normally smooth skin of the eyelids

  • Small localized infections or styes

Severe Cases

  • Matted,hard crusts around the eyelashes

  • Small sores

  • Loss of eyelashes

  • Chronic tearing

  • In some cases, these lid conditions may also cause irritation, inflammation, or infection of the cornea of the eye.

Diagnosis

Blepharitis can be diagnosed with a comprehensive eye examination, with special emphasis on the eyelids and front surface of the eyeball

Treatment

  • Good eyelid hygiene

  • Antibiotic eye drops or ointment

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Cataracts

 

What are Cataracts?

When the normally clear lens within your eye becomes cloudy or opaque, it is called a cataract. Cataracts vary from extremely small areas of cloudiness, to large opaque areas that cause a noticeable vision loss.  Cataracts most often develop in persons over the age of 55, but they are occasionally found in younger people, including newborns.

Currently, there are no proven methods to prevent cataracts from forming. However, reducing the exposure to sunlight, decreasing or discontinuing smoking, and eating a balanced diet may be helpful in slowing or preventing their development.  

Causes of Cataracts

Many factors can contribute to the development of cataracts.  Chemical changes can occur within the lens in your eye that cause it to become cloudy. This may be due to advancing age, or it may be a result of heredity, an injury, or a disease.

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight, cigarette smoking, or the use of certain medications are also risk factors for the development of cataracts.

Symptoms

Cataracts usually develop slowly and without pain.  Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, but often at different rates.  Some indications that a cataract may be forming include:

  • Blurred or hazy vision

  • Decreased color perception

  • The feeling of having a film over the eyes. An

  • Increased sensitivity to daylight glare and/or sensitivity to lights at night may also be experienced.

Diagnosis

A comprehensive eye examination can easily determine if you have a cataract forming.

Treatment

Prescription Glasses

Contact Lenses

Surgery

When a cataract develops to a point where your daily activities are affected, all your options will be discussed with you. In the early stages, prescription changes in your glasses and/or contact lenses may improve your eyesight. When these prescription changes alone cannot improve vision sufficiently, surgery is the only alternative. As cataracts generally develop over a long period of time, this is usually not an emergency condition. When it is determined by you and your doctor that the time is right, we will refer you to an eye surgeon who specializes in cataract removal. Using a small incision, the surgeon will remove the clouded lens, and, in most cases, replace it with an intraocular lens implant. This procedure is easily tolerated by most, and is usually done as an outpatient procedure, under topical or local anesthetic.

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Conjunctivitis

 

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent layer covering the surface of the inner eyelid and a portion of the front of the eye. This condition appears in many forms and affects people of all ages.  

To avoid giving infectious conjunctivitis to others, keep your hands away from your eyes; thoroughly wash your hands before and after applying eye medication; do not share towels, washcloths, cosmetics or eye drops with others and seek treatment promptly.

Small children, who may forget these precautions, should be kept away from school, camp and the swimming pool until the condition is cured.  Certain forms of conjunctivitis can develop into a more serious condition that may harm your eye. Therefore, it’s important to have your condition diagnosed and properly treated quickly.

Causes of Conjunctivitis

The three main types of conjunctivitis are infectious, allergic, and chemical. The infectious form, commonly known as “pink eye” is caused by a contagious virus or bacteria.

Your body’s allergies to pollen, cosmetics, animals or fabrics often bring on allergic conjunctivitis. Furthermore, irritants like air pollution, noxious fumes and chlorine in swimming pools may produce the chemical form.

Symptoms

  • Red eyes,

  • Inflamed inner eyelids,

  • Watery eyes,

  • Blurred vision

  • Sandy or scratchy feeling in the eyes

  • With the infectious form, there may be a watery or pus-like discharge around the eyelids.

Diagnosis

A comprehensive eye examination can determine if you have Conjunctivitis,

Treatment

Antibiotic drops and/or ointment

Other infectious forms, caused by viruses, can’t be treated with antibiotics. They are fought off by your body’s immune system. However, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent secondary bacterial infections from developing.  

The ideal treatment for both forms is to remove the cause of the allergy or irritation. For instance, avoid contact with any animal if it causes an allergic reaction. Wear swimming goggles if chlorinated water irritates your eyes. In cases where these measures won’t work, other types of prescription and over-the-counter eye drops are available to help relieve the discomfort.

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Diabetes and Your Eyes (Diabetic Retinopathy)

 

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when there is a weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels in the retina of your eye, resulting in blood leakage, the growth of new, undesirable blood vessels, and other changes. If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, blindness can result.

Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is a condition that prevents your body from making or using insulin to break down sugar in your bloodstream, resulting in abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood.  Diabetes and its complications can affect many parts of the eye. Diabetes can cause changes in nearsightedness, farsightedness, and premature presbyopia (the inability to focus on close objects with age). It can result in early cataracts, glaucoma, and decreased corneal sensitivity. Visual symptoms may include fluctuating or blurring of vision, occasional double vision, night vision problems, and flashes and floaters within the eyes. The most serious eye problem associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which can result in vision loss to the point of blindness.  Several factors may increase the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Smoking, poor diabetes control, high blood pressure, and pregnancy may increase the likelihood of developing these undesirable diabetic changes.

Symptoms

  • Fluctuating or blurring of vision

  • Occasional double vision

  • Night vision problems

  • Flashes and floaters within the eyes

  • Diabetes and its complications can affect many parts of the eye. Diabetes can cause changes in nearsightedness, farsightedness, and premature presbyopia (the inability to focus on close objects with age). It can result in early cataracts, glaucoma, and decreased corneal sensitivity. The most serious eye problem associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which can result in vision loss to the point of blindness.

Diagnosis

In a routine eye examination, we can diagnose potential vision threatening changes in your eyes caused by diabetes. The key is early detection, as once damage has occurred, the effects are usually permanent. The best way to prevent vision loss is to control the diabetes from the outset, and to have your eyes examined routinely to catch any small problems before they cause permanent damage.

Treatment

Good Diabetes Control

Laser Therapy

Surgery

In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy may be treated with laser therapy. The laser seals the leaking blood vessels, preventing further damage. In severe cases, surgery inside the eye may be necessary. The best treatment for diabetic retinopathy, though, is good diabetes control, along with regular examinations.

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Dry Eyes

 

What is Dry Eye?

The tears your eyes normally produce are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Dry eye occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or produce tears which do not have the proper chemical composition.

Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, exposure to environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking or from medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or antidepressants. Dry eye can also be symptomatic of general health problems or can result from chemical or thermal burns to the eye.

Symptoms

  • Stinging, itchy, scratchy and uncomfortable eyes

  • Burning feeling or a feeling of something foreign within the eye

  • You may experience increased dry eye symptoms on awakening.

  • Some people experience an overly wet eye. This is a natural reflex to comfort a dry eye.

Diagnosis

During the examination, your doctor of optometry will ask you questions about your general health, your use of medications and your home and work environments to determine any factors which may be causing dry eye symptoms. This information will help your doctor decide whether to perform dry eye testing. These tests use diagnostic instruments, which allow your doctor to evaluate the quality, the amount, and the distribution of tears to detect signs of dry eyes.

Treatment

Artificial tears or tear substitutes

Ointments or gels

Prescription medications

Nutritional supplements

Dry eye cannot be cured, but your eye’s sensitivity can be lessened and measures taken so your eyes remain healthy. The most frequent treatment is the use of artificial tears or tear substitutes. For more severe dry eye, ointments or gels can be used, especially at bedtime. In some cases, small plugs may be inserted in the eye’s tear drainage canals to slow outflow and loss of tears.

Nutritional supplements may be recommended to support the function of the eyelid oil glands. Prescription medications may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation of the eye to improve necessary tear products.

If dry eye is untreated, it can harm your eyes. Excessive dryness can damage normally moist tissues and possible scar the cornea of your eye, impairing vision. Dry eye can make contact lens wear more difficult due to increased irritation and can increase the chance of eye infection.

To keep dry eye symptoms in check, you and your doctor of optometry need to work together. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. If you have increased dryness or redness of your eyes that is not relieved by the prescribed treatment, let your optometrist know as soon as possible.

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Flashes and Floaters

 

What are Floaters?

Floaters are small, semi-transparent or cloudy specs or particles within the fluid inside the eye that become noticeable when they move within the line of sight. They may also appear with flashes of light.  Almost everyone sees a few floaters at one time or another, and they are usually harmless. They can occur more frequently and become more noticeable as you grow older. If you notice a sudden change in the number or size of the spots, you should contact us, as it is important to make sure they are not the result of a more serious problem.

Causes of Floaters

The inner part of your eye is filled with a clear, jelly-like fluid called the vitreous humor. Occasionally, small flecks of protein and other matter become trapped during the formation of the eye before birth and remain in the vitreous body. Floaters may also be caused by the age-related liquification of the vitreous fluid and the effects on its surrounding parts, or by certain injuries or eye diseases.

Symptoms

  • Translucent specs of various shapes and sizes

  • Threadlike strands or cobwebs.

  • Since they are inside the eye, they move as the eye moves, floating in the eye’s internal fluids. Often they seem to dart away as you try to look at them directly. What you actually see when you observe a floater is the shadow that it casts on the back of the eye, rather than the floater itself. That is why they are most often seen against the background of a bright sky, a blank wall, or the brightly illuminated page of what you may be reading.

Diagnosis

By examining the inside of the eye with any of a number of instruments, such as a slit-lamp biomicroscope or an ophthalmoscope, we can determine whether or not your floaters are normal and harmless, or a sign of something more serious. Usually, we will dilate your eyes with drops to allow a larger view of the inside of your eyes, which may leave you light-sensitive or a bit blurry for a short time.

Treatment

Most floaters are harmless and will not cause blindness. However, floaters may, occasionally, be indications of a more serious problem, such as a retinal tear or detachment, which should be dealt with as soon as possible. If you see a sudden increase in floaters, or a shower of floaters you haven’t seen before, or floaters accompanied by bright flashes of light, give us a call as soon as possible. Early diagnosis of these potentially more serious conditions can be critical to preventing vision loss.

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Glaucoma

 

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of disorders that affects the eye leading to progressive damage of the retinal cells. This results in irreversible damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the main carrier of vision information to the brain. Damage to it results in less information sent to the brain and a loss of vision.

Glaucoma is more likely as one ages and there is a hereditary tendency for the development of the disease in some families. It is estimated that over 2 million Americans are being treated for glaucoma and millions more are unaware they have the disorder. These numbers are expected to rise as the population grows older.

Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease. It occurs more frequently in African-Americans than in Caucasians causing damage at an earlier age and leading to blindness at a greater rate. Yearly examinations are particularly important as a preventative eye care measure.

People of all ages can develop glaucoma. High risk candidates for glaucoma include people:

  • Who are over age 40

  • Who have a family history of glaucoma

  • Who are diabetic

  • Who are African-American

  • Who are very nearsighted

  • Who have thin corneas

Causes of Glaucoma

The exact cause of glaucoma is not known and it cannot currently be prevented. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. and the world. If detected at an early stage and treated promptly, glaucoma can usually be controlled with little or no further vision loss.  The optic nerve, at the back of the eye, carries visual information to the brain.  As the fibers that make up the optic nerve are damaged, the amount and quality of information sent to the brain decreases and a loss of vision occurs. 

Symptoms

  • Rapid build up of pressure accompanied by blurred vision

  • The appearance of colored rings around lights (halos)

  • Pain and redness of the eye

  • The signs and symptoms of glaucoma can vary depending on the type. Primary open angle glaucoma often develops slowly and painlessly, with no early warning signs. It can gradually destroy your vision without you knowing it. The first indication may occur after some vision has already been lost. Acute angle closure glaucoma, which results from a sudden blockage of drainage channels in your eye, causes a

Diagnosis

A comprehensive eye examination will include tests for glaucoma. A simple painless procedure called tonometry measures the internal pressure of your eye. A measurement of your corneal thickness, called pachymetry helps confirm the eye pressure accuracy. A visual field assessment will measure the degree and sensitivity of your retinal function. With an evaluation of the optic nerve, your optometrist can assess the potential for the development of glaucoma.  If diagnosed at an early stage, glaucoma can often be controlled and further vision loss may be minimized. If left untreated, first peripheral vision and then central vision will be affected and blindness may result.

Treatment

Prescription eye drops

Laser therapy

Surgery

  • The most common first line treatment of glaucoma is usually prescription eye drops that must be taken regularly. In some cases, laser therapy or surgery may be required. The goal of the treatment is to prevent loss of vision.

  • Unfortunately, any vision loss as a result of glaucoma is usually permanent and cannot be restored. This is why regular preventive eye examinations are so important. Low vision rehabilitation services, that include the use of specialized optical devices and training, may benefit individuals with severe vision loss.

  • While Glaucoma can not be prevented, early detection and treatment can control glaucoma which reduces the chances of permanent vision loss.  Protect your eye health and your vision….Be sure to visit your doctor of optometry every year.

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Hypertension (Hypertensive Retinopathy)

 

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. Just as too much air pressure in a tire can damage the tire, too much blood pressure can damage healthy arteries and lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and stroke. One in four Americans has hypertension, and one third of people with the disease are unaware they have it. Often called “the silent killer” it rarely causes symptoms even as it inflicts serious damage on the body.

Causes of Hypertension

High blood pressure is more likely in people who are overweight, pregnant or taking birth control pills, over 50, a smoker, African American, eating foods high in sodium or fat, drinking excessively, sedentary, or have a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.  Hypertensive retinopathy occurs when there is damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Arteriosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries), hemorrhages, fluid leakage, and swelling of the retina or optic nerve are all possible findings associated with high blood pressure.  

Symptoms

Often called “the silent killer” it rarely causes symptoms even as it inflicts serious damage on the body.

Diagnosis

During your annual eye examination, we can diagnose potential vision threatening changes in your eyes caused by high blood pressure. The key is early detection, as once damage has been done, the effects can be permanent. The best way to prevent vision loss is to control the hypertension from the outset, and to have your eyes examined every year to catch any small problems before they cause permanent damage.

Treatment

To treat the changes that occur in the back of the eye from hypertension, the high blood pressure must be brought under control and maintained at a healthy level. Regular eye examinations by your optometrist are also critical to monitor your eye health and to prevent damage to your eyes and possible vision loss.

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Macular Degeneration

 

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is an eye disease that occurs when there are changes to the macula. The macula is a small portion of the retina that is located on the inside back layer of the eye.

It reduces central vision and makes seeing objects and details straight ahead difficult or impossible.

It is also the leading cause of vision loss among people over age 50.

Causes of Macular Degeneration

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration.

In the “dry”, or atrophic type, the tissue of the macula gradually becomes thin and stops functioning properly.

“Wet”, or exudative macular degeneration is less common and results when fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula and blur central vision. Vision loss from the “wet” form can be rapid and severe.

Symptoms

  • Fradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly

  • Objects appear to be distorted in shape and straight lines appear wavy or crooked

  • Loss of clear color vision

  • Dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision

  • In the early stages, signs/symptoms of macular degeneration may not be noticeable, so regular eye examinations are important in early detection.

Diagnosis

The signs/symptoms of macular degeneration can also indicate other eye health problems, so if you experience any of them, you should contact your doctor of optometry immediately.

In a thorough eye examination, your optometrist can perform a variety of tests to determine if you have macular degeneration or other eye health problems.

Treatment

There is no cure for “dry” macular degeneration; nor can central vision lost to macular degeneration be restored.

However, doctors now believe that there is a link between nutrition and the progression of “dry” macular degeneration. They suggest that a low-fat diet, rich in dark green leafy vegetables, including spinach, some types of leaf lettuce and broccoli, can slow vision loss due to macular degeneration.

There are also nutritional supplements that may be beneficial. Ask your doctor of optometry about your individual case.

Low vision devices such as telescopic and microscopic lenses, magnifying glasses, illuminated magnifiers and closed circuit television systems can often be prescribed to help make the most use of remaining vision and restore function.

If it is detected early, the “wet” form of macular degeneration can be treated with laser therapy, often referred to as photocoagulation, in which a highly focused beam of light is used to seal the leaking blood vessels that damage the macula. Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), in which a medication is injected into the bloodstream, then activated with a laser shone into the eye, is another option. These are not permanent cures, but they can be used to slow the rate of central vision loss. Low vision aids can also be prescribed for people with this form of the disease.

Macular degeneration is one of the most highly researched areas of eye diseases. Ask your optometrist about this research and appropriate referral sources for advanced treatment.

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Ocular Allergies

 

What are Ocular Allergies?

Allergic conjunctivitis is the medical term for an eye allergy, also known as an ocular allergy. It often presents with swelling and redness of the thin, clear layer of mucous membrane (the conjunctiva) that lines the inside of your eyelids and the white part of your eye. Symptoms may include moderate to severe itching most often in the spring and fall when pollen counts are highest.  Allergens can be almost anything to which your body is sensitive. However, there are some common ones you should be aware of, because one way to manage your condition is to try to minimize or avoid exposure to allergens. Some of the more common allergens include: pollen, molds, dust mites, and pet hair.

Causes of Ocular Allergies

Think of an eye allergy as miniature fireworks going off in your eyes. Like fireworks, special cells in your eye called mast cells can be triggered when they come in contact with an allergen. An allergen is any substance to which your body is sensitive, such as pollen, pet hair, ragweed, etc. When allergens trigger the mast cell, it “explodes,” releasing irritants (such as histamine) that cause the itching, redness, and burning associated with allergic conjunctivitis.

Symptoms

  • Itching of the eye

  • Redness of the eye

  • Burning of the eye

  • Tearing

  • Swelling or redness of the inner eyelids

  • Blurred vision

  • Scratchy feeling in the eye

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Sensation that something is in your eye

  • Some of these symptoms may be caused by a more serious eye condition. That’s why it is important to see your eye doctor whenever you have an eye problem.

Diagnosis

A comprehensive eye examination and patient history will help to determine if you have ocular allergies.

Treatment

Your optometrist can prescribe medication that is effective in managing ocular allergy symptoms, allowing eyes to look and feel better.

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