At Contact Lens Associates we have a passion for healthy vision and our doctors believe it is important to have an eye exam every year. By checking eyes once a year, we are often able to pick up on vision disorders that, left unchecked, could cause lifelong problems down the road. Below you will find a list of some of the more common visual disorders. For more information on visual disorders you may visit the AOA site linked below.
Sometimes called "Lazy Eye" amblyopia is the loss or lack of development in one eye. It is not due to an eye health problem and glasses or contact lenses cannot fully correct the condition. Amblyopia is often associated with crossed eyes or a large degree of difference in the degree of near-sightedness or far-sightedness. Because the eyes fail to work together symptoms may include favoring one eye or a tendency to for a person to bump into objects on one side. Amblyopia usually develops before the age of 6 and early diagnosis increases the chance for a complete recovery.
Astigmatism is a vision condition that causes blurred vision due to either the irregular shape of the cornea (the cornea is football shaped instead of spherical like a baseball) or sometimes is due to the shape of the lens inside the eye. An irregular shaped cornea or lens prevents the light from focusing properly on the retina. Astigmatism can be treated with glasses, contacts or refractive surgery.
Hyperopia, or far-sightedness, is a condition in which objects far away are seen more clearly than close objects. Far-sightedness occurs when the eyeball is too short, or the cornea is too flat so that when light enters the eye it doesn€t focus properly on the retina. Hyperopia can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
Myopia ,or nearsightedness, is a vision condition in which close objects appear clearer, than objects in the distance. Nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball is too long or the curvature of the cornea is too steep. Because the eye is too long, light enters the eye and falls short of reaching the retina resulting in decreased vision. Nearsightedness can be corrected using glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
Presbyopia is a vision condition in which the lens inside the eye loses its flexibility which makes it difficult to focus on close objects such as reading a book. When we are young the lens in the eye is very flexible allowing the muscles in the eye to contract and reshape the lens. This is why a young person can read a book, look at the board and back again without missing a beat. The reshaping of the lens allows us to easily change focal points. However, beginning in the early 40's, the lens becomes more rigid resulting in greater difficulty focusing up close. Presbyopia can be treated with bi-focal or progressive (unlined tri-focal) lenses. Contact lens wearers can either wear their glasses over their contacts to read or they can try monovision or multi-focal lenses.
Eye Diseases, Conditions and Injuries
Blepharitis is a bacterial driven inflammation of the eyelids and eyelashes causing red, irritated itchy eyelids and the formation of dandruff like flaky skin on lids. A common treatment for blepharitis includes using pre-moistened lid scrubs to wipe lids and lashes before bed. Patients can also use a small amount of baby shampoo on a warm, wet cloth to wipe affected areas.
Cataracts usually occur as a normal part of aging. As we age the lens inside the eye becomes more rigid, takes on more color and becomes more opaque. Most cataracts occur in people 55 years of age or older. However, certain types of cataracts are found in infants and young children. The lens is made up of proteins and water. Clouding of the lens occurs due to changes in the proteins and lens fibers. Symptoms of cataracts include: increased glare from on-coming headlights while driving at night, a decrease in the intensity of colors, hazy or misty vision, or a change in your visual acuity. When the cataract begins to affect a person's ability to do normal everyday tasks, surgery may be needed. Cataracts are treated by surgically removing the patient's old lenses and replacing them with clear plastic intraocular lenses. As with any surgery certain risks apply, and it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of cataract surgery with your doctor. That being said, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries performed in the United States today. Approximately 90 percent of patients report improved vision following surgery.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, which is the thin, clear layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis can be bacterial, viral, or fungal, as well as allergy or chemical related. Therefore, if you think you have conjunctivitis it is important to see your eye doctor so he/she can determine which treatment is appropriate. With this condition your eyes may feel gritty, itch or burn. The eyes may also be red or pink or emit discharge. Eyelids may be swollen and the patients may or may not be light sensitive.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in persons with diabetes, which causes progressive damage to the retina. Diabetics should have annual eye exams because diabetic retinopathy is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes. Over time diabetes affects the circulatory system of the retina. When blood vessels become damaged they can leak causing swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision. Symptoms can include: large spots or floaters in your field of vision, sudden blurred vision, seeing a dark empty spot in the center of your vision or difficulty seeing at night. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.
Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition in which either the amount of the tears or the quality of the tears is insufficient. Medications, environmental conditions such as wind and dry climates, aging and certain medications can produce dry eyes. Tears are made up of three layers: the outer oily layer, the middle watery layer and the inner mucus layer. A smooth oily layer help tears from evaporating too quickly, the mucin layer helps the tears spread evenly over the surface of the eye. When these two layers become deplenished the result can be burning or the watery layer will tend to overproduce causing tears to stream. Mild cases of dry eyes can be treated using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. In more severe cases prescription drops can be added that increase the production of tears. Punctal plugs can also be inserted into the tear ducts to help preserve tears and keep them from evaporating too quickly.
Floaters are often small, semi-transparent or dark specks within the vitreous. The Vitreous is the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes. Floaters are often caused by small flecks of protein or other matter trapped during the formation of your eyes at birth. They can also result from the deterioration of the vitreous as we age or from certain eye diseases and injuries. Most floaters are not harmful and normally don't affect vision. If you notice a large amount of floaters or see flashes in the periphery of your vision, you should call your eye doctor immediately
Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders leading to progressive damage to the optic nerve which leads to a progressive narrowing of the field of vision. The most common form of Glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma which results in a build up of the fluid pressure in the eye. This increase in fluid puts pressure on the optic nerve. Over time, if left untreated Glaucoma can result in blindness. Glaucoma is often symptom free and the best way to catch the condition is to have annual eye exams. If diagnosed early Glaucoma can be controlled using prescription eye drops. Age, race (African Americans are at a higher risk); family history, diabetes, and prolonged corticosteroid use are all thought to increase your risk for developing Glaucoma.
Keratoconus is a vision disorder that occurs when the normally round cornea becomes thin and irregular (or cone) shaped. This abnormal shape prevents the light entering the eye from being focused correctly on the retina. The result is a distortion of vision. Symptoms usually appear in the teens or 20's and in the early stages include: slight distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to glare and light. As Keratonconus progresses the bulge in the cornea becomes bigger resulting in greater visual distortion. In the early stages Keratoconus can be treated with eyeglasses and/or contacts, but as it progresses glasses become less effective and specialty lenses are needed to correct vision. In a few cases corneal transplants are necessary. However even after a corneal transplant eyeglasses or contacts are often still needed to correct vision.
Macular Degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness in America. It results from changes in the macula which is responsible for seeing sharp detail and central vision. In years past there was no treatment for Macular Degeneration, and while there is no cure, recent injectable medications have had some success in slowing the progression of the condition. Common symptoms include a gradual loss of the ability to see sharp detail, distorted vision, a gradual loss of color vision and a dark, empty area in the center of your field of vision. If you experience any of these symptoms contact your eye doctor immediately.
A Retinal Detachment is a tearing or separation of the retina from the inside wall of the eye. You are at a higher risk of having a retinal detachment if you: have a family history of retinal problems, have trauma or a blow to the head or the eye, are severely nearsighted, develop complications following eye surgery, have vitreal problems or if you have tears and/or lesions on your retina. Symptoms of a retinal detachment include: Flashes of light, a shower of floaters, a sudden wavy or watery quality to your vision, distorted or reduced central vision, experience a dark veil or curtain being pulled across your eye or experience a total loss of vision. A retinal detachment is a true medical emergency, but nearly 90 percent of all retinal detachments can be repaired using surgical methods. However, the best results occur when a patient gets immediate treatment. Most retinal detachments occur between age 50 - 60, but retinal detachments can happen at any age.