Diagnosis & Treatment
“Eye diseases” is a blanket term that refers to a host of diseases relating to the function of the eye. Below we describe some of the more common types of eye diseases and how they are generally treated. For more in-depth information, please speak with your eye care provider at Rebuck & Associates Eye Care.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin, protective membrane that covers the surface of the eyeball and inner surface of the eyelids. Caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens and other irritants like smoke and dust, pink eye is highly contagious and is usually accompanied by redness in the white of the eye and increased tearing and/or discharge.
While many minor cases improve within two weeks, some can develop into serious corneal inflammation and threaten sight. If you suspect conjunctivitis, visit your eye care provider at Rebuck & Associates Eye Care PLLC for an examination and treatment.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic eye disease is a general term for a group of eye problems that can result from having type 1 or type 2 diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.
Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic eye disease, so it is important that you don’t wait for symptoms to appear before having a comprehensive eye exam. Early detection and treatment of diabetic eye disease will dramatically reduce your chances of sustaining permanent vision loss.
Often called “the silent thief of sight,” glaucoma is an increase in the intraocular pressure of the eyes, which causes damage to the optic nerve with no signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to a decrease in peripheral vision and eventually blindness.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are medications and surgery available that can help halt further vision loss. Early detection and regular eye exams are vital to slowing the progress of the disease.
Macular degeneration is a chronic, progressive disease that gradually destroys sharp central vision due to a deterioration of the macula, a tiny spot in the central portion of your retina comprised of millions of light-sensing cells. Because it is so commonly associated with aging, it is also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are two forms of AMD called “dry,” most common and with no known treatment, and “wet,” less common and treated with laser procedures. Genetic testing is now available to help identify those most likely to develop “wet” macular degeneration.
In most cases, reversing damage caused by AMD is not possible, but supplements, protection from sunlight, eating a balanced diet and quitting smoking can reduce the risk and progression of macular degeneration. For suggestions, speak with your eye care provider at Rebuck & Associates Eye Care PLLC.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s normally clear lens, which leads to a progressive blurring or dimming of vision. It is the world’s leading cause of blindness and among the most common conditions related to aging – by age 65, you have a 50 percent chance of developing a cataract, and, by age 75, it jumps to 70 percent.
A cataract starts out small and initially has little or no effect on vision. As the cataract progresses, it becomes harder to read and perform other normal tasks. In the early stages, your doctor may recommend stronger eyeglasses and adjusting your lighting to reduce glare. When cataracts disrupt your daily life, your doctor may recommend cataract-removal surgery, which is one of the most frequent and successful procedures done in the U.S.
Who develops cataracts and how common are they?
Age-related cataract (senile cataract)
This is by far the most common type, and it affects older people, becoming more common with increasing age. In the UK about 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 have at least one cataract. Men and women are equally affected. Often both eyes are affected but one eye is typically worse than the other.
Most age-related cataracts take many years to form, and at first there will be no symptoms. Many people with an early cataract do not realise they have it as there is very little cloudiness. For most, therefore, the cataract will be diagnosed at a routine eye check before symptoms ever develop.
For some people, the cataract never becomes bad enough to impair vision. However, in many cases, vision becomes gradually worse over the years.
Congenital cataracts (present at birth)
These are uncommon, but important to diagnose early, and must be removed as early as possible after birth. This is because vision and seeing have to be learnt very early in infancy. A cataract that is present at birth stops the eye from learning to see. It can cause total loss of vision (severe sight impairment) which may then persist even if the cataract is removed later in life. Doctors examine the eyes of babies for cataracts as part of routine baby checks both at birth and at 6-8 weeks of age.
Other types of cataracts
There are some uncommon causes of cataracts.
A cataract may develop after an injury to an eye, or as a result of radiation exposure.
Using steroid drops in the eye over a prolonged period increases the likelihood of developing a cataract.
Cataracts sometimes develop as a complication of some other eye conditions. For example, there is an increased risk of cataracts in people who have diabetes.
Some studies have raised the possibility that cataract formation might relate to diet, with the thought that eating less meat or increasing intake of antioxidant vitamins might be helpful.
Research continues in this area. However, it is not clear that taking vitamin supplements is of benefit to eye health in those whose diet is already healthy and well balanced.
What causes cataracts?
The cataract begins with a change to the structure of the proteins in the lens. Some of the proteins clump together in places within the lens. This causes tiny areas of cloudiness. Each tiny area of cloudiness blocks a bit of light getting through to the retina. The severity of the cataract depends on the number of areas of cloudiness that develop in the affected lens.
Most affected people develop a cataract for no apparent reason. Factors that may increase the chance of developing cataracts include:
Having a poor diet.
Having a family history of cataracts.
Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and other sources.
High blood pressure (hypertension).
Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol.
Previous eye injury or inflammation.
Previous eye surgery.
Significant alcohol consumption.
Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for a prolonged period (more than ten years).
Severe short-sightedness (high myopia).
What Are the symptoms of cataracts?
At first you may notice your vision becoming a bit blurred. With time, you may notice some of the following:
Spots in your vision.
Halos around bright lights – for example, street lights.
Seeing less well in brightly lit rooms or in sunshine.
Being easily dazzled by bright lights such as the headlights of an oncoming car.
Washing out or fading of colours.
Over the years your vision may gradually become worse.
Glasses do not correct the visual impairment.
Depending on the severity of the cataract, the effect on your sight can range from vision being slightly blurred to complete loss of vision in the affected eye.
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