Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the most common form of vision loss in the United States among those over 50 years of age. The condition affects more than 1.75 million and is projected to affect close to 3 million by 2020, according to an abstract from the April 2004 Archives of Ophthalmology. Age related macular degeneration is a degenerative condition of the macula (the central retina) and is classified in two categories: wet (neovascular) macula degeneration, the most progressive form representing 10% of those affected, and dry (non-neovascular), a more gradual vision loss type of macula degeneration.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. In the US, more than half of all people 65 and older have a cataract, according to the World Health Organization. Cataracts are a progressive condition that causes the eye's natural lens to become cloudy, which results in vision impairment or vision loss. The lens, located behind the iris colored section of the eye, is comprised of proteins and water that serve to provide light for the retina. Cataracts may be white, yellow or brown. As cataracts become increasingly opaque and dense, the retina receives less light, and the light that does reach the retina results in blurred vision. This causes gradual vision loss. If left untreated, cataracts can cause unnecessary blindness.
Diabetic RetinopathyDiabetic retinopathy, under the category of Diabetic Eye Disease, is the leading cause of acquired blindness amongst Americans under the age of 65. Most type 1 diabetic individuals will have diabetic retinopathy within 20 years of diabetic diagnosis and 21% of type 2 diabetics have diabetic retinopathy upon diabetes diagnosis with the majority being affected at some point in time, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Eye Exams, Comprehensive Eye Care
Eye exams should occur on a regular basis for every individual to help maintain healthy eyes, diagnose eye conditions that may not present with visual symptoms, and prevent diagnosed eye conditions from progressing to vision loss or blindness. There may be core differences between eye examinations performed by allied healthcare personnel such as nurses at schools focusing on vision testing and those performed ophthalmologists focusing on ocular health, vision, and eye conditions. It is important to seek out comprehensive eye exams that are performed by ophthalmologists at select times in life.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization; it is also the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans, according to the National Eye Health Program/National Institutes of Health. Usually, there are no symptoms in the early stages of Glaucoma. It is estimated to affect over two million Americans whereby half are unaware that they have it. Ninety percent of glaucoma patients have open-angle glaucoma. Vision loss from glaucoma results from damage to the optic nerve responsible for moving images from the eye to the brain. Fortunately, with regular eye exams, early detection, and treatment, our eyesight can be preserved and gradual vision loss can be ceased.
Often a silent, but problematic day-to-day life eye condition, Hemianopi, also known as Hemianopsia and Quadrantanopia, is common among brain injury and stroke victims, but may affect others. Yet, often the primary concern for people with hemianopia is the underlying cause such as brain injury and stroke recovery. Treatment for brain injury and stroke victims usually involves interdisciplinary care, including, but not limited to a primary care physician, neurologist, and rehabilitative healthcare professionals. However, the ophthalmologist, a neuro-ophthalmolgist and possibly vision rehabilitation professional may be a required part of the treatment plan.
LASIK, also known as Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is one of the most common elective procedures to improve vision. In 2007, it was estimated that over 17 million people worldwide have undergone the LASIK procedure and slightly more than half of that number were Americans, according to Market Scope. People interested in LASIK may be nearsighted or farsighted. In fact, LASIK can treat those that have astigmatism, presbyopia or monovision as well.
Pediatric Eye Care
Eye exams for children require a comprehensive evaluation, which includes the testing of the many visual skills that are involved in the aspects of normal, healthy vision. A comprehensive ocular health and vision exam should be conducted by a professional eye doctor by six months of age and repeated at three and five years of age.
Pediatric Eye Conditions and Warning Signs
Pediatric eye conditions may be discovered by parents through warning signs prior to an initial comprehensive eye exam through a professional eye doctor. Alternatively, an eye condition may be discovered at the time of a pediatric eye exam or in between eye exams. Some eye conditions present with visual symptoms, others do not. Furthermore, eye exams performed by allied healthcare personnel such as nurses at schools do not necessarily include a complete examination of the eyes that can be performed by an eye doctor.
PRK, also referred to as photorefractive keratectomy, was the first method that used a laser to improve vision through refractive surgery. In Europe, eye surgeons began using PRK in the 1980s, but the US did not approve PRK through a laser until 1995. The first laser in the US to be FDA approved for vision improvement was in 1988. Some eye surgeons still prefer PRK today, particularly for people that have thin corneas or large pupils. People interested in PRK may be nearsighted or farsighted. PRK candidates for surgery may have astigmatism, presbyopia or monovision.
Retinal Detachment and Retinal Tears
Retinal detachment or tears may occur in people of any age but is more common in those that are elderly or have a specific medical condition such as diabetes and tumors. Severe injury to the eye may result in a retinal tear or retinal detachment as well. The retina is very delicate, and when shrinkage of the vitreous fluid (the clear, gel-like substance which fills the center of the eye) pulls on the retina, damage to the retina can occur. The final result may be a tear to the retina and, in some instances, the vitreous fluid can escape through the tear into a space between the retina and the back of the eye, causing the retina to detach.
Consumer content by New England Eye Specialists, P.C. provides on-line information for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. The purpose of this information is to provide types of definitions and treatment options, but is not intended to diagnose, replace, supplement, or augment a consultation with an eye care professional regarding the viewer/user's own medical care.