There are many different eye diseases and conditions. While some of these problems are due to age, others can be conditions that develop suddenly for other reasons. Many of these eye conditions and diseases can be prevented and treated. Regular eye exams with Dr. Moffatt can help screen for these conditions and diseases before they become serious problems. Learn more about Refractive Errors, Dry Eyes, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataracts, and Glaucoma and what you can do to prevent and treat them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), refractive errors are the most common eye problem in the United States. Refractive errors are vision problems that make seeing things clearly difficult. Different issues fall into the category of refractive errors, including myopia (near-sightnedess), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (unclear vision at all distances), and presbyopia (lack of ability to read up close that usually occurs between 40 and 50-years-old). The best treatment for the above refractive errors is to get glasses, contact lenses, or sometimes even surgery. Oftentimes, people can spot these symptoms themselves if the change happens over time; however, if a child was born with a refractive error, for instance, or the issue develops very gradually over time, they might not know how clear things can or should look, so they might not know anything is wrong. This is a key importance of regularly seeing your eye doctor. Your eye doctor is also the one who can prescribe eyeglasses and/or contact lenses, so seeing an eye doctor regularly is important to fixing refractive errors.
Dry eye is another common eye problem. Dry eye can occur when the eye does not produce enough tears or the correct type of tear. This can cause your eye to get irritated and can be painful. In cases such as chronic dry eye, using a computer or reading can be quite uncomfortable. Some symptoms of dry eye include feeling like there is something in your eye, dryness, red eyes, burning or itching eyes, sensitivity to light, and blurry vision. If you notice your eyes being particularly dry or you are experiencing the above symptoms and think you might have dry eye, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for a proper evaluation. Your eye doctor may recommend medication or certain treatments that can help the eyes produce more tears.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-Related Macular Degeneration is an eye disease that impacts the central vision. Central vision is used to read, drive, and see pictures or faces. It helps people see colors, shapes, and details clearly. An area of the retina, called the macula, provides central vision. When the macula starts to degenerate, this can cause vision problems. As it states in the name, this disease is “age-related” and usually occurs in people over 50-years-old. The CDC estimates that 1.8 million Americans 40 -years-old and older are affected by Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Age-Related Macular Degeneration has two types: wet and dry. Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula, leaking blood and fluid and damaging the macula. Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration is caused by the macula thinning over time. Symptoms include blurred central vision, black or dark spots in the center part of your field of vision, and straight lines appearing wavy or curved. While there is currently no treatment for this disease, treatment can slow the progression of the disease and prevent extreme vision loss. Recently, Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration has started to be treated with intraocular injections of anti-VEGF medications.
For people with diabetes, diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common eye problems. Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar damages blood vessels in the retina. In certain instances, this may cause the retina to detach and lead to vision loss. While symptoms of this disease do not always present themselves early on, you should see your eye doctor right away if you experience blurred vision, spots or floating strings in your vision, dark or blank areas in your vision, vision that changes from blurry to clear, colors seeming washed out, and vision loss. You can help protect your eyes from Diabetic Retinopathy by regularly going to an eye doctor and controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure. Getting an eye exam regularly can help catch Diabetic Retinopathy early on and can be key to avoiding retina detachment and vision loss. Possible treatments include injections or surgery.
Cataracts are a clouding in the eye’s lens. This can occur as we age and our eyes become cloudy. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. While they can occur at any age and even at birth, they most commonly develop at age 50 and older. Possible symptoms of cataracts include cloudy/blurry vision, glares around lights in the night, trouble seeing at night, sensitivity to bright light, need for bright light to read, changes to how you see color, and frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions. Symptoms of cataracts may not cause vision problems initially, but as they worsen, people can experience symptoms more regularly. This is another case in which regular eye exams are important. Especially because symptoms do not always present themselves right away, regular eye exams can help detect and treat cataracts before it is a serious problem. Removing the cloudy lens through surgery is a common treatment of cataracts.
When fluid builds up in the front part of your eye and damages the optic nerve, Glaucoma may occur. The pressure of higher-than-normal eye fluid can damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is in charge of how visual information from your eyes is transmitted and communicated to your brain. The two main types of Glaucoma are open-angle and closed-angle. Open-angle is a slower development over time and vision loss may be undetected until the disease is very far along. Closed-angle can happen very suddenly, be painful, and result in a quick loss of vision. Glaucoma is most common in people over age 40-years-old and can cause vision loss or blindness if left untreated. Common symptoms include eye pain or pressure, headaches, red eyes, rainbow-colored halos around lights, low vision, blurred vision, tunnel vision, blind spots, and even nausea and vomiting. Possible treatments include prescription eye drops, laser therapy, and surgery that can all help reduce eye pressure.
There are many different eye conditions and diseases that can develop naturally or with age. While many of the symptoms of these conditions and diseases have been listed, many of them do not present until the disease is more advanced and very severe. As a result, it is important to have regular, early eye exams so your eye doctor can be on the lookout for any possible symptoms or warning signs that you might not be aware of or unable to detect without the use of the equipment and tools they have access to. Do not delay care. Contact us with questions about symptoms and schedule a consultation with Dr. Moffatt today to best screen and prevent common eye conditions and disorders.