My eyes don’t hurt and my vision is clear. Why should I have an eye exam?
Regular eye exams are an invaluable tool in maintaining your eyes’ health by detecting and preventing disease. Some diseases, such as glaucoma, develop gradually without causing pain or vision loss – so you may not notice anything wrong until significant and irreversible damage has been done. Early detection of any problems can allow for a choice of treatment options or prevent further harm.
What is glaucoma? Am I at risk?
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. It occurs when the pressure inside the eye rises high enough to damage the optic nerve. There are no symptoms of glaucoma until advanced, irreversible damage has occurred. Therefore, testing by an ophthalmologist or optometrist can detect glaucoma before symptoms appear and begin treatment to prevent vision loss.
People at greatest risk for developing glaucoma include those who are over 40, diabetic, near-sighted, African-American, or who have a family history of glaucoma.
What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration occurs when the center of the retina degrades, causing a progressive loss of vision. Symptoms include:
- Blurred central vision
- Distorted vision
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision
There are two kinds of macular degeneration: “wet” and “dry.” The “wet” form can be treated in its early stages. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.
What is diabetic retinopathy and how is it treated?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that weakens the blood vessels that nourish the retina. Vision can be lost if these weak vessels leak, swell or develop thin branches. In its advanced stages, diabetic retinopathy can cause blurred or cloudy vision, floaters and blind spots – and, eventually, blindness. This damage is irreversible. However, treatment can slow disease progression and prevent further vision loss. Treatment modalities include laser and surgical procedures.
Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?
Yes. People with diabetes are most susceptible to developing it, but your risk is reduced if you follow your prescribed diet and medications, exercise regularly, control your blood pressure, and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Regular eye exams are an integral part of making sure your eyes remain healthy.
What are the symptoms of dry eye and how is it treated?
“Dry eye” often occurs during the natural aging process. It can also form as a result of eyelid or blinking problems, certain medications such as antihistamines and oral contraceptives, climate (low humidity, wind, dust), injury, and various health problems such as arthritis.
- Irritated, scratchy, dry, uncomfortable or red eyes
- A burning sensation or feeling of something foreign in your eyes
- Blurred vision
In addition to being uncomfortable, dry eye can damage eye tissue, scar the cornea and impair vision. Dry eye is not preventable, but it can be controlled before harm is done to your eyes.
Treatment includes use of artificial tears or moisturizing ointment. If these methods fail, small punctal plugs may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage, or the drainage tubes in the eyes may be surgically closed.
How does LASIK work?
LASIK changes the way light is bent, or refracted, as it passes through the cornea so that it focuses properly on the retina and objects can be seen clearly. A femtosecond laser creates a thin flap in the surface of the cornea. An excimer laser beam then reshapes the cornea’s curvature to improve vision. The flap is then repositioned and patients are sent home to nap.
How long does the procedure take, and how long is recovery?
The entire procedure takes only 10 minutes per eye, and patients are often ready to leave within an hour. The flap heals on its own within a few days with no need for stitches. Most patients return to normal activity the next day.