Your eye is much like a camera – with a lens that focuses objects on the retina (film). The information recorded on the retina is sent to the brain, creating a picture. As we grow older, the natural crystal clear lens can become cloudy, causing blurred or foggy vision, light and/or glare sensitivity, problems identifying colors, and problems seeing up close and at a distance. This condition is called a cataract.
Cataracts can also be caused by injury, medications and certain medical conditions such as diabetes. Some cataracts develop from the edge to the center of the lens, and if the cloudiness is not near the center you may not notice a visual problem. Other cataracts develop from the center causing noticeable problems.
Cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed and successful surgeries in the United States. Today’s advanced technological and surgical techniques allow an almost immediate return to normal activities.
Glaucoma is a disease of eye that causes the pressure inside the eye to rise. This can damage the optic nerve and cause blind spots in vision. Because this happens slowly and there is no pain, a patient can be totally unaware that there is a vision threatening problem.
Glaucoma cannot be cured, nor can lost vision be replaced or regenerated. However, further visual damage can be prevented by special eye drops, medication, surgery and laser surgery.
Macular degeneration is a deterioration of the central portion of the retina that causes poor central vision, and is the leading cause of impaired reading or detailed vision. Although macular degeneration causes distortion of central and color vision, side vision is not affected. Macular degeneration is often a natural result of the aging process and is most common in people over 60, but can appear as early as age 40. Occasionally, macular degeneration is caused by injury, infection, or inflammation. The disease may also be hereditary.
There is no cure for macular degeneration. However, there are treatments can slow the progression. Several new treatments are currently awaiting FDA approval.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes involving the blood vessels that nourish the retina of the eye, and the leading cause of blindness among adults. Approximately 25% of current diabetics have some form of the disease. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can result in severe visual loss, including blindness. Since there is no pain or other external symptoms, changes in the retina can go unnoticed unless detected by an eye examination by an eye specialist. All people diagnosed with diabetes are at risk.
Treatment of diabetic retinopathy depends on the location of the disease and the degree of damage to the retina. In some cases, careful monitoring by an eye specialist may be all that is necessary. In other cases, laser treatment may be recommended.
Small specks, spots and flashes of light in the field of vision are called flashes and floaters. Caused by changes in the fluid of the eye, flashes and floaters are generally not cause for concern. Flashes can also occur with migraine headaches.
In some cases, floaters and flashes may be the symptoms of a more serious eye problem, such as retinal detachment. The retina tears as the internal eye fluid shrinks and pulls away from the retina, causing bleeding that appears as a new set of floaters. Retinal tears require immediate medical attention to prevent retinal detachment which could result in partial or total loss of vision.
Often, laser surgery can seal retinal tears and prevent vision loss. This painless treatment is often performed as an office procedure and prevents more serious conditions, such as retinal detachment.
Our desert climate is one cause of DES. Others include lack of adequate tear production, hormonal change, side effect of medication, contact lens wear or insufficient blinking. Symptoms include chronic dryness, scratching and burning in your eyes, possible “foreign body sensation” and oddly enough, can include excessive tearing.
Treatment can include artificial tears, prescription eye drops and a simple office procedure called Punctal Plug Occlusion during which temporary or permanent silicone plugs can be inserted in the lacrimal (tear) drainage ducts in your eyelids to keep tears on your eye from draining away as quickly.