According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than half of all Americans will develop cataracts by age 80. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, which can cause one’s vision to become blurry. They are common with age and can occur in one or both eyes. The clouding usually occurs slowly, but can happen quickly, especially after trauma to the eye. While cataracts are not painful, they do cause many symptoms such as blurry vision, fewer details, glare while driving or reading, dull colors, changes in your glasses prescription and double vision in one eye.
New advances and techniques have made cataract surgery one of the most successful and life-improving surgical procedures performed. We offer the latest procedures available to help remove cataracts and restore your vision. Cataract surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis.
At Whipple Eye Center, we offer special intraocular lenses for our patients that increase independence from glasses and contacts. We have the ability to correct astigmatism with Toric intraocular lenses and decrease dependence on reading glasses with multifocal intraocular lenses.
Glaucoma is a common eye disorder that is, in fact, not one but an entire group of disorders with a common label. It is a disorder that damages the optic nerve, which serves to send the images from the eye to the brain.
It was once believed that glaucoma was caused by high fluid pressure inside the eye (called intraocular pressure). Experts now know that, while high intraocular pressure is a risk factor for glaucoma, it is not the only cause.
The early stages of glaucoma are undetectable, and experts estimate that only half of the people who currently have glaucoma even realize that they are affected. While there is no cure for glaucoma, many medications and procedures exist that can help to slow the disease or stop it altogether. However, like so many eye-related disorders, early diagnosis is essential. Because the early stages of glaucoma have no noticeable symptoms, regular eye exams are recommended for everyone, even those who have no eye-related symptoms or problems.
Diabetic & Hypertension Eye Care
People with diabetes are unfortunately at a higher risk for numerous diabetic eye diseases, which can lead to severe vision loss and sometimes even blindness. Here are the different diabetic eye diseases:
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that damages the blood vessels in the retina, and usually affects both eyes. Diabetic retinopathy can affect people with Type I and Type II diabetes. There are four stages to diabetic retinopathy:
Mild Non-proliferative Retinopathy – Minor swelling occurs in small regions in the tiny blood vessels of the retina.
Moderate Non-proliferative Retinopathy – The blood vessels in the retina are blocked.
Severe Non-proliferative Retinopathy – The blockage of the blood vessels causes malnourishment to the retina, which causes the retina to send signals to the body to create new blood vessels.
Proliferative Retinopathy – The newly formed blood vessels develop along the surface of the retina, and are very fragile. Their fragility can cause them to leak, which can cause severe vision loss and even blindness. This stage can also cause macular edema, which can cause vision loss.
There are no common symptoms present during the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. If you experience blurred vision or “floating” spots, contact your Ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
People with diabetes can help prevent the development of diabetic retinopathy by carefully managing their blood sugar level and blood pressure. If a person is in the final stage of diabetic retinopathy (Proliferative Retinopathy), laser treatments are available to help shrink the fragile blood vessels, which can ultimately preserve the rest of your sight.
Strabismus (Lazy Eye)
Strabismus, also sometimes called “lazy-eyed”, “cross-eyed” or “wall-eyed”, is a condition that occurs when a person cannot align both of their eyes on a single object at the same time under normal circumstances. According to experts, it is estimated that roughly five percent of all children have some degree of strabismus. Movement of the affected eyes could either occur all the time (called “constant strabismus”) or under certain conditions like high stress or illness (called “intermittent strabismus”). Children with strabismus will occasionally experience double vision as a result of the conflicting signals from their eyes. Eventually, their brains learn to disregard one of the eyes, but this does not affect the actual condition of the eye. Early treatment is strongly advised for children with strabismus because it is not a condition that children “grow out of”. Some common treatments for strabismus include optical devices, vision and muscle therapy, and, as a last resort, surgery. For an in-depth consultation, schedule an appointment with our office as soon as possible.
Retinal detachment is a very serious condition which can cause severe or even permanent vision loss. It occurs when the retina becomes separated from the underlying supportive tissues, which prevents the retina from functioning properly. Some common symptoms may include: spots, floaters, flashes of light, poorer vision or a shadow appearance across the top of the eye. No pain is associated with retinal detachment. If you notice any of the above symptoms or believe you have a detached retina it is vitally important to seek ophthalmic care immediately to prevent permanent vision loss.
Floaters are small specks that move in and out of your field of vision. They may be more noticeable when looking at a plain background. Floaters are tiny clumps of cells inside the vitreous humour (the clear fluid that fills the inside of the eye) that can be different shapes.
Macular holes are tears or cysts that can develop in the macula (a small spot in the retina, or back inner part of the eye). This is where fine focusing occurs. A macular hole is usually noticed when there is a sudden decrease in vision in one eye. Macular holes are most often related to the aging process, and are most common in people over 60.
Occasionally, macular holes may resolve without treatment, but we recommend you see your ophthalmologist immediately if you notice a sudden loss of vision in one eye, so he/she can determine if treatment is necessary. This can help prevent permanent vision loss.
The most common treatment for macular holes is a surgery called vitrectomy, which removes the vitreous gel to prevent it from pulling on the retina. Then, a mixture of air and gas is inserted where the vitreous once was, putting pressure on the macular hole, allowing it to heal. This treatment will require a long recovery period to ensure lasting results. For more information about this surgery, please contact our office.
Tears are very important for the eyes, and for a number of reasons. They not only act as a lubricant, but also a cleanser – keeping away and washing out dust, debris and foreign objects – and also as an antibacterial, neutralizing any microorganisms which take residence on the eye’s surface. Therefore, when tear production is insufficient, it can create many problems for the eyes. Not only are dry eyes uncomfortable, they are also more prone to injury and infection.
For incidental cases of dry eyes, over-the-counter eye lubricants are all that are required to ease the discomfort. But when the body cannot or does not produce enough tears, or when the tears are drained or evaporated too quickly to properly protect the eye, this can be a condition known as dry eye syndrome. Depending on the cause and extent of dry eye syndrome, it may or may not be able to be completely cured. Even when not cured, however, the symptoms can be managed.
One of the treatments for dry eye syndrome is restasis eyedrops, which is a prescription artificial tear formula that contains special materials that not only lubricate and comfort the eye, but also encourage the eye to produce more tears. Another possible treatment is the installation of lacrimal plugs, also called punctal plugs, which are inserted into the tear ducts to stop tears from draining off of the surface of the eye too quickly. In more extreme cases, the tear ducts might also be closed surgically. If dry eyes are a result of environmental conditions, it may also be helpful to fight the environmental causes, such as wearing sunglasses in dusty climates or using humidifiers for dry climates. Nutritional insufficiencies can also be to blame for dry eyes, in which case taking nutritional supplements or drinking more water may be advised.
A refractive error is when the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly, causing blurred vision. The common refractive disorders are:
Myopia also known as nearsightedness, is when distant objects appear blurry. Myopia is inherited and usually discovered in childhood. As a person ages, myopia can progress, requiring a stronger prescription to correct.
Hyperopia also known as farsightedness, is when close objects appear blurry. Hyperopia is most common in children. It can improve as a person ages.
Presbyopia is the aging of the lens in the eye, which can make reading more difficult. This usually occurs in people over the age of 40.
Astigmatism is an irregular curvature on the cornea (front surface of the eye) which causes a person’s vision to be blurred at all distances.
If you experience blurred vision, difficulty reading or crossing of the eyes, it may mean you have a refractive disorder. Contact your ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam. Refractive disorders are commonly treated with corrective lenses, whether it be eyeglasses or contact lenses. Some refractive disorders may also be corrected by refractive surgery.
The cornea is the dome-shaped clear covering at the center of your eyes. It protects your eyes, and its curvature is also responsible for many aspects of our vision. It is a highly complex series of cells and proteins, and unlike most of the tissues of the body, it has no veins or blood vessels of any kind to help nourish and maintain it, because the blood vessels would interfere with our vision. This makes it vulnerable to outside infections and diseases, of which there are many.
Also known as “pink eye” from the redness and inflammation it causes, conjunctivitis is a very common affliction of the cornea that affects millions of people around the world a year. It causes irritation, itching and burning of the conjunctiva, which lines the eyelids, and can have many causes, including allergies, viruses and bacterial infections. Many times, the disease’s symptoms are easily managed and disappear after several days, but in extreme cases, professional treatment may be needed. If severe cases are left untreated, they may worsen and impair vision.
A corneal dystrophy is when any layer or tissue within the cornea begins to weaken and break down, or when the cornea builds up a cloudy material, impairing vision. While there are many kinds of corneal dystrophies, it is a relatively rare brand of disease, and less than one percent of all cases of blindness or partial-sightedness can be traced to a corneal dystrophy. Though there are dozens of specific corneal dystrophies, most share many common elements, such as being hereditary, progressing slowly, affecting both eyes evenly, and not typically being caused by outside factors such as diet, exercise, climate conditions or pre-existing medical factors.
Fuch’s Dystrophy is a specific kind of corneal dystrophy, but represents an exception to many patterns found with other corneal dystrophies. Unlike most corneal dystrophies, Fuch’s Dystrophy is typically only recorded in the later stages of life, usually in the patient’s 50’s or 60’s, even though the disease may be present for decades because it is does not affect vision right away. It is caused when cells in the innermost layer of the cornea begin to break down for no discernible reason. As a result, the cornea begins to absorb water, causing swelling which blurs vision. Many times, as the disease progresses the cornea will even develop blisters, and they can be very painful when they burst. Treatment options for Fuch’s dystrophy include drops to reduce swelling, drying out the epithelial blisters, and even corneal transplants.
Herpes of the eyes, also known as ocular herpes, is caused by the same herpes simplex virus that is largely responsible for cold sores and fever blisters. It is the single most common infectious cause of corneal blindness in America. Ocular herpes typically causes painful sores on the eyelid or cornea, and can eventually cause the cornea itself to inflame, which can lead to the breakdown and destruction of cells within the cornea, causing scarring and blindness. Though the virus itself never leaves the body, breakouts can be controlled and treated with prescriptions.
A pterygium is a pinkish-colored patch of tissue that grows on the cornea. Pterygia can potentially grow large enough to seriously obstruct vision, but this is a rare occurrence. More often, it is a cosmetic concern, since the pterygia can be seen when it becomes red and inflamed from dust or sunlight. Eye lubricants are usually an effective treatment for smaller pterygia, since they reduce the swelling and redness, and thus their appearance. When they grow large enough to obstruct vision, however, surgery may be needed.