There are many different ocular diseases that can affect our vision and put the health of our eyes at risk. Fortunately, many of these can be managed or treated fairly effectively, enabling you to retain healthy, functioning eyes for much longer.
Here’s what you need to know about some of the most common ocular diseases and how our experienced team can help you with the management and/or treatment of your condition.
Glaucoma is a common eye condition in which the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged as a result of an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). In most cases, this is caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye. This usually happens slowly over time, and this makes it difficult to spot glaucoma yourself. Screening for the condition is normally incorporated into your comprehensive eye exams. However, in some instances, glaucoma comes on very quickly and suddenly. When this happens, your vision could be at serious risk.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to reverse any loss of vision that has occurred prior to glaucoma diagnosis. However, there are things that can be done to reduce the pressure inside your eyes to prevent any further damage from occurring. These include eye drops, laser treatment, and surgery.
Cataracts are primarily associated with older people since they tend to occur later in life. They are characterized by the development of cloudy patches in your field of vision, which make it seem like you are trying to look through frosted glass. Cataracts occur when there are changes to the eye that cause the proteins that are present within it to clump together. Although not painful, the size of the cataract can grow, causing symptoms to worsen and eventually causing blindness.
Many people live with cataracts for a long time before deciding that their vision is impaired enough to seek treatment. This is because wearing glasses or contacts can help you to manage the effects of the condition. Nevertheless, having cataracts treated early on does lessen your risk of complications associated with the surgery to remove them. The only way to treat cataracts is to undergo a refractive lens exchange. This is where the clouded lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial alternative. It is very common, very straightforward and very successful.
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the world. It occurs when there are changes to the macula, which is a small section of the retina that causes the central vision to become compromised. There are two types of macular degeneration – ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ with dry being the most common. Our team will be able to advise you which type you are affected by.
Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for dry macular degeneration. However, your condition can be managed using vision aids such as glasses or contact lenses. If you are diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, there are several treatment options which can help, including regular eye injections and a light treatment called photodynamic therapy.
As you may have guessed from the name, diabetic retinopathy is an ocular condition that occurs in patients with diabetes. If not managed properly, it can lead to irreversible sight loss, so patients with diabetes are recommended to be a screen for the condition fairly regularly. It occurs when the patient’s perpetually high blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels serving the retina.
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is only needed if screening detects significant problems that mean your vision is at risk. Some of the treatments that could be recommended include medications that are injected into the eyes, laser treatment, and surgery to remove blood or scar tissue from your eyes.
Dry eye syndrome is characterized by eyes that feel stiff, dry and difficult to move. Other symptoms include itchiness, eye fatigue, soreness and sensitivity to light. Dry eye syndrome can be caused by many different things, but typically the eyes either don’t make enough natural tear film, or the tear film drains too quickly. Certain medications, being over the age of 50 and spending lots of time looking at screens can increase your risk of dry eye.
Fortunately, there are lots of different options for the management and treatment of the chronic dry eye. These range from eye drops and topical solutions to devices that go into your eyes to stop the fluid from leaking out, or electronic devices that send impulses to your eye glands to stimulate tear film production.
Keratoconus is a fairly common vision disorder that occurs when the cornea (the front part of the eye which is usually fairly evenly domed) becomes thinner and bulges out in a cone shape. When this happens, it is impossible for the light that enters the eye to be focused correctly onto the retina, and this causes blurred vision.
There are a variety of different treatments that can be used to manage and treat patients with keratoconus. In the early stages of the condition, prescription lenses – either in frames or as contact lenses - may be able to correct your vision and enable you to see clearly. However, many patients need to consider some of the treatments for progressive keratoconus. These include gas permeable contact lenses, scleral contact lenses, keratoplasty (a surgical treatment which reshapes the front surface of the eye) or a corneal transplant.
If you would like more information about any of the ocular diseases listed here or would like to speak to our team about the management and treatment of these conditions, please get in touch with our optometry team at Eye Care North in Cave Creek, AZ.