A cataract occurs when the normally clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. There are different types of cataracts, and they mature at different rates. The patient normally notices blurred vision, double vision, color distortion, and increased glare sensitivity. Frequently, as cataracts develop, changes in the eyeglass prescription will allow you to see more clearly. When changing your prescription won’t improve visual acuity, we refer the patient to a specialist for cataract removal. After a short healing period, eyeglasses (if necessary) can be prescribed by our office.
Diabetes can stimulate the growth of blood vessels in the back of the eye which will leak and damage the retina. Patients with high or unstable blood sugar levels are at an increased risk for diabetic retinopathy. The patient may notice symptoms of blurred vision, floaters or flashing lights, or sudden loss of vision. If we see these changes, we refer patients to a retinal specialist for evaluation and treatment. They may use a laser treatment to help stop the leaking of blood vessels. We recommend at least annual dilated examinations of our diabetic patients. We also send a letter to the patient’s primary care physician to keep them informed of the retinal condition of our mutual patients.
The macula is the small area of the retina which allows us to see fine detail. Macular degeneration occurs when this area begins to deteriorate. There are two types of macular degeneration:
Dry macular degeneration is more common and slower to progress. The symptoms would be a spot of blurred vision when looking straight ahead, or distorted central vision. Dry macular degeneration is treated by use of vitamin supplements that include antioxidants, vitamin A, C, E, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Wet macular degeneration develops more rapidly and is more sight-threatening. Wet macular degeneration is treated with lasers or injections into the eye.
Dry eye occurs when the eyes don’t produce enough tears or produce tears which do not have the correct chemical composition. Certain medications may cause dry eyes including antihistamines, oral contraceptives, diuretics, hormone replacement therapy, and antidepressants. Dry eyes are more likely to affect the elderly because our tear film changes as we age. Dry eyes affect females more than males. Symptoms include burning, redness, itching, scratchy feeling, excessive tearing, and uncomfortable eyes. To treat dry eyes we may suggest using over-the-counter eye drops to lubricate the eye, or prescription eye drops to help increase tear production. Also, for more relief, we may suggest punctal plugs be placed into the tear drainage canals to slow the tear outflow.