Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. It is a form of damage to the optic nerve of the eye. The condition often develops over many years without causing pain or other noticeable symptoms – so you may not experience vision loss until the disease has progressed. People at high risk include those who are over the age of 40, diabetic, near-sighted, African-American, or who have a family history of glaucoma.
To detect glaucoma, your physician will test your visual acuity and visual field as well as the pressure in your eye. Regular eye exams help to monitor the changes in your eyesight and to determine whether you may develop glaucoma. Once diagnosed, glaucoma can usually be controlled and further vision loss can be decreased. Treatments to lower pressure in the eye include non-surgical methods such as prescription eye drops and medications, laser therapy, and surgery.
The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. When Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs, loss of this sharp vision occurs. Patients may experience anything from a blurry, gray or distorted area to a blind spot in the center of vision. AMD is the number-one cause of vision loss in the U.S. Macular degeneration doesn’t cause total blindness because it doesn’t affect the peripheral vision. Possible risk factors include genetics, age, diet, smoking and sunlight exposure. There are two kinds of AMD: wet (neovascular/exudative) and dry (non-neovascular). About 10-15% of people with AMD have the wet form. Vision loss with dry AMD is slower and often less severe than with wet AMD. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss. There are treatments for many patients with macular degeneration.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that weakens the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the retina inside the eye. These weak vessels can leak, causing a loss of vision. Changes to your vision may not be noticeable at first. But in its advanced stages, the disease can cause significant and irreversible vision loss. Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is preventable by controlling blood sugar. Prevention is the best medicine with this disease. Regular eye exams are very important to detect diabetic retinopathy. Although damage caused by diabetic retinopathy cannot be corrected, patients diagnosed with the condition can be treated to slow its progression and minimize further vision loss. Treatment modalities include laser and surgical procedures.
A common condition in which the eyes produce an abnormally low volume of tears. Tears function to keep the eyes comfortable, clean, and well lubricated. Without adequate tears, the eyes feel dry, gritty and itchy, have a burning sensation, and are often painful. Eyelids may feel heavy, vision may be unclear, and may intermittently tear. Symptoms are often worse after prolonged use and in conditions of heat, wind, and low humidity.
Blepharitis is a common condition that causes redness and inflammation of the eyelids. Patients with blepharitis can have irritated, itchy, and inflamed eyelids with crustiness and scaly lashes and lids. Blepharitis is often associated with bacterial eye infections, styes, dry eye, and acne rosacea. The lid margins can become thickened and eyelashes can be misdirected and result in a foreign body sensation and cornea erosions.
For more information on eye conditions go to: www.rpbusa.org