Common Eye Diseases
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
- Red, watery eyes
- Inflamed eye lids
- Blurred vision and a sandy or scratchy feeling in the eyes
- Pus-like or watery discharge around the eyelids
- Matting of the eyelids
Antibiotic drops can clear up the infection, normally within a few days. Sometimes, the inflammation does not respond well to the initial treatment with eye drops. In those rare cases, a second visit to the office should be made. When there is severe infection, oral antibiotics are necessary. If left untreated, conjunctivitis can create serious complications such as infections in the cornea, eyelids and tear ducts. It is important to get treated promptly for eye infections, especially if you wear contact lenses.
Corneal ulcers generally heal quickly if they are treated early and aggressively. However, if they are neglected, corneal clouding and even perforation (a hole in the cornea) may develop, resulting in serious loss of vision and possibly loss of the eye. Therefore, a corneal ulcer is a serious vision-threatening condition that requires prompt medical attention.
Causes of Flashes and Floaters
Flashes and floaters are most often caused by age-related changes in the gel-like material, called vitreous, that fills the back of the eye. At birth, the vitreous is firmly attached to the retina. In very young children, the vitreous is thick, like firm gelatin. The vitreous holds clumps of gel or tiny strands of tissue debris left over from the eye’s early development. These clumps or strands are firmly embedded in the thick, young vitreous and cannot move around much.
As a person gets older, the vitreous gradually thins and becomes more watery. By the time the person is in his or her twenties or thirties, the vitreous may be watery enough to allow some of the clumps and strands to move around inside the eye. This material floating inside the eye can cast shadows on the retina, which appear in the vision as small floating spots.
Sometime after about age 55, many people experience the onset of larger, more bothersome floaters or flashes of light. By this age, the vitreous gel has usually become much more watery and it jiggles around, making flashes and floaters much more common and visible. If you experience flashes that seem to appear all of a sudden, or greatly increase in number, it may mean that there is a problem and an eye doctor should be consulted. To learn more about flashes and floaters, contact one of our doctors.
Dry Eye Causes
Dry eye can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Age: As we get older, the glands in the eyelid produce less oil that keeps tears from evaporating from the eye. Decreased oil production allows tears to evaporate too quickly, leaving the eye too dry.
- Diseases including diabetes, Sjogren’s and Parkinson’s.
- Hormonal changes in women, especially after menopause.
- Prescription medications: Some high blood pressure medications, antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills and pain medications. Over-the-counter medications, including some cold and allergy products, motion sickness remedies, and sleep aids, can also cause dry eye.
- Hot dry or windy conditions: High altitude, air conditioning, and smoke can also cause dry eye.
- Using a computer
- Watching TV
- Contact lenses
- Eye surgery: Some types of eye surgery, including LASIK, can aggravate dry eye.
- Inflammation: Recent research suggests that dry eye may be caused by inflammation due to an imbalance of “good” fats and “bad” fats.
Dry Eye Treatment Options
Dry eyes are most commonly treated with the use of artificial teardrops that help make up for the lack of natural lubricating tears and often provide immediate relief from irritation and red eyes. Artificial tears can generally be used as often as needed, from a few times per day to every few minutes. They come in liquid form and longer lasting gel forms, and in a long-lasting ointment, which is most often recommended for nighttime use. Many different brands of artificial tears are available over the counter. When artificial tears are not enough there are other options to consider such as:
- There are now FDA approved medications that have been proven to actually stimulate tear production, rather than just tear replacements.
- Punctal Plugs are another option to prevent more drainage of the natural tears than necessary.
At 20/20 EyeCare, we can manage your dry eye with our knowledge and expertise in this high climate. Ask us when making the appointment if we can bill your medical insurance for your dry eye evaluation.
Symptoms of Cataracts
- Decreasing vision with age
- Blurred or double vision
- Seeing halos around bright lights
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Vision that worsens in sunlight
- Difficulty distinguishing colors
- Poor depth perception
- Difficulty reading
There is no medical treatment to reverse or prevent the development of cataracts. Once they form, the only one way to regain clear vision is through cataract surgery. Delayed onset can be attempted with UV protective sunglasses and a high-nutrient rich diet.
Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma
- Mild aching in the eyes
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision (the top, sides and bottom areas of vision)
- Seeing halos around lights
- Reduced visual acuity (especially at night, that is not correctable with glasses)
Doctors typically use medicines, laser surgery or filtration surgery. The goal of treatment is to lower the pressure in the eye and the best type of treatment will be determined by your doctor.
Types of Glaucoma
Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, affects approximately three million Americans. The form of glaucoma occurs when fluid drains too slowly from the angle between the iris and the cornea. The built up fluid elevates pressure within the eye, which, if left untreated, can damage the optic nerve damage and lead to blindness. The same fluid buildup can also occur if the eye produces excess fluid. Open-angle glaucoma generally starts in one eye, but it often advances into the other eye. Glaucoma treatment usually begins with the use of oral and/ or topical medication. If the person does not respond to the medication, corrective eye surgery may be an option. Open-angle glaucoma can be primary (occurring for no known reason) or secondary (occurring due to previous illness or injury).
Normal-tension glaucoma, also called low-tension glaucoma or normotensive glaucoma, accounts for about 25 to 30 percent of all glaucoma cases in the United States. Unlike other forms of glaucoma, this disease is not associated with elevated intraocular pressure. Patients with this type of glaucoma have normal pressure inside their eye, but have some optic nerve damage.
Symptoms of macular degeneration
- Difficulty reading without extra light and magnification
- Seeing objects as distorted or blurred, or abnormal in shape, size or color
- The perception that objects “jump” when you try to look right at them
- Difficulty seeing to read or drive
- Inability to see details
- Blind spot in center of vision
Most cases are not treatable, but low vision aids may help make it easier to live with the decreased vision of macular degeneration. Dr. Zwelling did her residency training in Low Vision. Please call 20/20 Eyecare for more information on vision rehabilitation.
Types of Macular Degeneration
About 9 out of 10 people with age-related macular degeneration suffer from dry macular degeneration, an early and less severe stage of this disease. Though the cause of dry macular degeneration is not clear, it is believed that a part of the retina becomes diseased, which leads to the destruction of the light-sensing cells in the macula. Aging and thinning of macular tissues can also lead to dry macular degeneration.
Approximately 10 percent of people are affected with an advanced type of age-related macular degeneration known as wet macular degeneration. More advanced and damaging than dry macular degeneration, wet macular degeneration leads to the formation of new blood vessels within the eye that leak fluid and blood under the macula. This fluid leakage damages the macula and leads to vision loss in a short amount of time.
Treating Macular Degeneration
The dry form of macular degeneration, which affects the vast majority of patients who are diagnosed with the eye disease, is still largely untreatable, although incorporating antioxidant and nutritional supplements into your diet has been shown to slow its spread.
When the condition is detected early, wet macular degeneration is most commonly treated with laser eye surgery or photodynamic therapy. While these treatments can effectively stop further formation of blood vessels, they have not been proven effective at reversing damage that has already occurred.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
- Floaters Difficulty reading or doing close work
- Double vision
- If left untreated, severe vision loss can occur
For advanced cases, laser surgery can make the retina stop manufacturing new blood vessels, and those that are already present tend to decrease or disappear. If diabetic retinopathy has caused cataracts, they can be corrected with cataract surgery.
Symptoms of Corneal Disease
- Vision becomes increasingly blurred and contact lens wear, becomes difficult.
- The contact lens may not stay on the eye due to the irregular shape of the cornea.
- Glare with lights at night or in bright sunlight.
- Pain in the eyes.
Corneal disease should be treated immediately. Although corneal transplant is almost always the necessary treatment to restore vision when the cornea becomes clouded, there are other measures that can be taken to prolong vision in the early stages of disease.