Treatment & Management
Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, leading to itching, redness and pain from dry spots on the surface of the eye. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don't produce enough tears, or because of a chemical imbalance in the tears.
Patients with this condition often experience irritating symptoms and which may result in more serious damage to the vision if the condition is left untreated. It is important for patients with this condition to take special care of their eyes in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Your doctor can diagnose dry eye after a thorough evaluation of your eyes and tear production with a Schirmer tear test.
Flashes and Floaters
While flashes and floaters occur in most people with healthy or merely nearsighted eyes, they can be symptoms of more serious problems that occur as a result of injury or retinal and posterior vitreous detachments.
Flashes in vision are caused by pressure on the retina, the bundle of nerves in the back of the eye where images are detected and transmitted to the brain. Patients who have flashes in vision complain of seeing flashing lights or lightning streaks.
Floaters are seen when fibers move within the vitreous humor, the gelatinous substance made of water and protein fibers that fills the eye. Patients symptoms include seeing small specks or dots that against clear backgrounds. Serious vision loss can occur if the retina or vitreous detach within the eye.
Patients who are experiencing flashes and floaters should contact our office immediately to decide if an exam is necessary.
Glaucoma is a group of related diseases that damage the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and possible blindness. Many people affected with glaucoma do not experience symptoms, and may not be aware that they have the disease until they have lost a significant amount of vision. With early detection and treatment, however, eyes can be protected against the serious loss of vision or blindness. Catching glaucoma at an early, treatable stage is one important reason to have regular, thorough eye examinations. A leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the United States, glaucoma affects patients of all ages.
Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a common condition in older adults, and the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 50 and older. Macular degeneration affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for the crisp, detailed central vision needed for reading or driving.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration can be classified as either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Dry macular degeneration is the more common diagnosis, and is considered to be an early stage of the disease. This form of the disorder usually develops as the macular tissues thin during aging. Deposits of pigment within the macula may also occur.
In only about 10 percent of patients does the condition progress to the more advanced form of the disease. If this occurs and the patient develops wet macular degeneration, new abnormal blood vessels develop beneath the macula, causing a leakage of blood and fluid. This leakage can lead to the creation of blind spots, and permanent damage to central vision.
With either type of macular degeneration, peripheral vision is maintained.
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
As people age, they are at risk for macular degeneration, but some are at elevated risk due to genetic and/or environmental factors. Some individuals have a genetic variant known as complement factor H that makes them more likely to develop this condition. Nearly half of the cases of blindness associated with macular degeneration are linked to this genetic deficiency.
Macular degeneration is most common in females and people with light skin or eye color, and the risk for all patients increases as they age. More than 30 percent of adults age 75 and older have been diagnosed with advanced or intermediate age-related macular degeneration.
Other factors that may increase the risk of developing macular degeneration include:
- Diet high in fat
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Prolonged sun exposure
- High blood pressure
- Certain medications
Patients can minimize their risk of macular degeneration by exercising, eating a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and getting regular eye examinations.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Patients with dry macular degeneration may notice gradual changes, including the following, to their vision:
- Shadowy areas in the central vision
- Fuzzy and distorted vision
- Difficulty perceiving color
- Difficulty seeing fine details
- Blind spots in central vision
If the disease progresses to the wet form, patients may also perceive straight lines as wavy or crooked, and have larger and larger blind spots, increasingly losing central vision. With wet macular degeneration, central vision loss can occur rapidly, sometimes in as little as a few days or weeks.
Macular degeneration may necessitate many lifestyle changes as it progresses. Patients may lose the ability to drive, have difficulty reading, and have difficulty recognizing faces. Because they retain peripheral vision, however, they usually remain capable of managing independently.
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are several treatment options available to help patients manage this condition and preserve their vision. The best treatment option for each patient depends on the severity and type of the condition, as well as how much, if any, permanent vision loss has occurred.
It is essential for patients with macular degeneration, wet or dry, to seek continuous medical treatment to manage the condition and prevent permanent vision loss.
A stye is small fluid-filled lumps that develop in or at the edge of the eyelid. A stye is often filled with pus and appears on the eyelid as a small red bump that may look like a boil. Styes usually heal within a week.
Causes of a Stye
A stye is usually caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. Some of the conditions contributing to the development of a stye include:
- Lack of cleanliness
- Touching the eyes with unclean hands
Treatment of a Stye
In most cases, a stye will begin to disappear on its own in a few days. The pain or discomfort of a sty may be relieved by applying a warm, clean washcloth to the eyelid. If the stye does not go away, other treatment options are available. They may include:
- Antibiotic eyedrops or ointment
- Surgery to drain the stye and reduce pressure
Patients should avoid wearing makeup or contact lenses until after the stye has healed.