At Northcenter Eye Care, our optometrists are trained in the most advanced optometric care to treat a variety of eye diseases and conditions. Following are some of the most common we see in our practice.
AMD/Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration, often referred to as AMD, is the leading cause of severe vision loss in Americans age 50 or older. Estimates from the Center for Disease Control show than 1.8 million people have AMD. Daily activities such as driving, reading, cooking and any number of work- and hobby-related tasks can be significantly affected by AMD, therefore having a major impact of the lifestyle of those affected by it.
The disease is caused by changes to the macula, which is responsible for our central or fine vision. The “dry” form is the most common. There also is a “wet” form that is less common but can be responsive to laser treatment and injections if detected early enough.
There currently is no treatment for “dry” AMD, but early detection is always important for helping a person manage the progression of the disease. If you experience any of the following common symptoms, schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible:
- Gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- Distorted vision
- Gradual loss of color vision
- Dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision
The central vision that is lost to macular degeneration cannot be restored, but diet, quitting smoking, wearing sunglasses and taking certain vitamins can help slow the progression. We also can help patients with referrals to low-vision clinics that prescribe devices offering further support.
The second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. lurks quietly in the lives of millions of individuals before revealing itself through vision loss. Glaucoma is characterized by damage of the optic nerve. It is estimated to affect more than 3 million Americans, and most don’t even know they have it until it’s too late, according to Prevent Blindness America.
Glaucoma emerges slowly with few symptoms and initially affects one’s peripheral vision. Ultimately, though, it can lead to blindness if left untreated.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection and treatment can have a significant impact on its progression. Regular comprehensive eye exams are important for everyone. Although people of certain races and age are at higher risk for the condition, glaucoma can affect anyone, even babies and small children. Share with your eye doctor family history, eye injuries or medications, as these can also increase your risk. We also have technology that helps us detect glaucoma before a patient experiences any symptoms and can begin treatment right away.
More than 24 million Americans age 40 and older are affected by cataracts, and it is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Cataracts are most strongly associated with aging, and symptoms often build slowly. Some patients say they are unaware of cataracts in the early stages. Visit us for an exam if you’ve experience any of the following:
- Cloudy or blurry vision.
- Faded colors.
- Glare. Light from headlights, lamps and sunlight may appear too bright. A halo effect may appear around the lights.
- Night vision problems.
- Double vision or multiple images in the eye
Treatment for cataracts includes surgery. While age-related changes to the eyes are the primary cause of cataracts, there are things you can do to minimize your risk.
Wear UV-protecting sunglasses. Long-term exposure to UV rays has been shown to affect cataract growth.
If you smoke, stop. Smoking is linked to so many health issues, including cataracts.
Protect your eyes from injury and disease. Make sure you have an annual check-up to stay on top of eye health issues, and wear protective lenses any time your eyes are at risk during sports, on the job or with other activities.
Stay on top of your health. Other diseases such as diabetes and hypertension increase your risk for developing cataracts.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of the disease that causes damage to the blood vessels that nourish the retina, often resulting in temporary and permanent vision loss. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop diabetic retinopathy. Maintaining overall health and recommended blood sugar levels helps prevent the disease.
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often do not produce any symptoms, which is why it is critical that people with diabetes or at risk for the disease undergo an annual comprehensive eye exam, including a dilation exam or Optos imaging. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Seeing spots or floaters
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
- Difficulty with night vision
Early detection and treatment is critical to helping someone with diabetic retinopathy maintain as much of their vision as possible.
Tears are necessary for the health of your eye and for clear vision, but some people have difficulty with the amount or quality of their tears. This is a condition referred to as dry eye, and it can be caused by age, hormonal changes (in women), medications, other medical conditions or environmental factors.
Dry eye symptoms include:
- Irritated, gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes
- Feeling of something in your eyes
- Excess watering
- Blurred vision
Advanced dryness may damage the front surface of the eye and impair vision, so it is important to treat this condition with artificial tears with over-the-counter products or tear-producing prescription medications. Many of our patients affected by dry eyes have also found success with punctal plugs, which are inserted into the tear ducts to block drainage.
The medical term for “pink eye” is conjunctivitis, and it can be caused by a variety of different things. This common eye disease is an inflammation or an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and the white part of the eye.
Many people are surprised that the term conjunctivitis is applied not just to conditions caused by bacterial or viral infections (referred to as infectious conjunctivitis) but also to those caused by allergens or exposure to chemicals.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
- A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
- Itching or burning in one or both eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Discharge from one or both eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Pink discoloration in the whites of one or both eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
Treatment for conjunctivitis is based on its cause, ranging from antibiotics for bacteria infections to home care and relief measures for viral conjunctivitis. The primary goals of treatment are to increase comfort, reduce or lessen the course of the symptoms, and prevent the spread of the illness.
Home care is a key part of treating conjunctivitis, but it’s always important to see us if you suspect you have the illness so that we can provide you with the best care possible.
In general, practicing good hygiene is the best way to avoid or prevent the spread of conjunctivitis. Following are some things you should do if you or someone in your household has been diagnosed with the illness:
- Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
- Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don’t share them.
- Discard eye cosmetics, especially mascara.
- Don’t use anyone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye care items.
- If you wear contacts, follow our instructions on lens care, including when to change them, cleaning and storage products to avoid, when to change the lens case, etc.
- Discard your contact lenses and consult us about when to resume wearing them and the possibility of changing products. (In fact, it is always a good idea to remove contact lenses when you are ill or have bad allergies.)