Glaucoma is a condition in which elevated pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve, causing peripheral and total blindness. It is widely noted as the second-leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
Symptoms: There may be no early warning signs, so optometric exams are crucial. Otherwise, pain, blurred vision and the appearance of colored rings around lights are leading indicators.
Treatment: Once diagnosed, glaucoma treatments are highly effective. Prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser treatment or even surgery may be involved. If untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness, and there are no cures.
Prevention: Because there may be few symptoms, and vision lost to glaucoma cannot be restored (the condition can only be halted), frequent monitoring for glaucoma is essential. The risk for glaucoma increases dramatically after age 35 and is often hereditary.
Diabetic retinopathy, as the name suggests, is associated with diabetes. It is best described as damage to the retina that occurs because of defects in or leakage from the fine blood vessels. The vast majority of those with early diabetic retinopathy are unaware of it. In advanced cases, it can result in vision blurriness and distortion.
Diabetics should ensure they see their Optometrist regularly, scheduling annual eye exams. Since it is a progressive disease, with no treatment, it can cause blindness over time. Your optometrist can provide the invaluable advice and treatment diabetics require.
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s crystalline lens that usually develops slowly over time. (In the case of post-traumatic cataracts, however, they can also occur very quickly.) It is the leading cause of poor vision in adults.
Symptoms: Dimmed or blurred vision, double vision, halos or glare around lights, dull colors, sensation of a film over the eyes, frequent cleaning of the eyes, difficulty driving or reading, and frequent changing or cleaning of glasses.
Treatment: If a cataract grows larger or denser, it can be surgically removed. It is a safe procedure with a near 100 percent success rate. Following surgery, it is normal to require a change in spectacle correction.
Prevention: Wearing UV protection when outdoors is very helpful. There is also some evidence to suggest that a diet high in beta carotene (vitamin A), selenium and vitamins C and E have preventative benefits. Avoiding cigarette smoke, air pollution and alcohol consumption may also help.
Macular degeneration is a condition in which the macula (the part of the retina responsible for sharp reading vision) fails to function efficiently. It is a common cause of impaired reading or detailed vision—the leading cause of blindness worldwide, in fact. Macular degeneration is generally age-related.
Symptoms: Initial signs include blurred reading vision, a weakening of color vision, distortion or loss of central vision (e.g., a dark spot in the middle of your field of vision), and distortion in vertical lines.
Treatment: Although there is no cure, laser treatment can be effective in slowing the disease’s progression. As usual, early detection is key.
Prevention: Lifelong UV protection is very important. General nutrition is also believed to play a significant preventative role. Zinc may be especially helpful in this regard, particularly for zinc-deficient people like seniors. There is also some evidence to suggest that a diet high in beta carotene (vitamin A) and vitamins C and E can protect the macula. However, an over-abundance of any vitamin may affect your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients. This is a matter of some debate among health care professionals.
OCULAR & VISUAL PROBLEMS
Myopia, more popularly known as nearsightedness, is a common refractive error. Approximately a quarter of the general population may be affected. Myopic individuals see better up close than in the distance. This is because the eye improperly focuses too much light, causing blurred vision in the distance.
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a common refractive error. Approximately 25 percent of the general population may be affected. Farsighted individuals see better in the distance than up close because the eye does not effectively focus light. Farsightedness is very common among elementary school-age children and a frequent cause of reading and learning difficulties.
Astigmatism is an irregular curvature of the front surface of the eye that results in blurred vision at all distances.
Presbyopia is an inevitable condition in which the ability to focus on close objects decreases over time. Since it is a natural effect of aging, it is extremely commonplace.
In recent years, an estimated four million new cases of presbyopia have been diagnosed. Today’s “baby boomer” generation is the most rapidly growing population segment requiring vision correction.
CARING FOR YOUR EYES
Sun Exposure & tanning
Canada is full of outdoors enthusiasts. Whether relaxing, exercising or just working in the sun, there are some important factors to keep in mind. This includes those who enjoy indoor tanning beds especially.
Indoors or out, people are exposing themselves to ultraviolet (UV) rays to an unprecedented degree. With the increased penetration of UV rays in our atmosphere today, outdoor exposure is not so different from the UV-rich, indoor tanning beds that have been the subject of much debate.
This is true of cloudy days as much as sunny ones. Don’t forget that water and snow environments, as well as higher elevations, also demand UV protection.
Significant exposure to these UV rays can damage your retina, cornea and can cause cataracts or macular degeneration. Ensure that you wear UV-protected sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors for a prolonged time. Sterilized protective goggles are essential for any duration of indoor tanning. In any environment, closing your eyes is no protection from UV, and there is no substitute for proper UV-blocking eyewear.
BOOK AN EYE EXAM
Book an appointment online today. You can also call us at 709 466-3221 during regular office hours to book your appointment.