Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the nerve fibers in your optic nerve become damaged and vision loss results. If diagnosed and treated at an early stage, glaucoma can often be controlled and vision loss may be limited. If left untreated, first peripheral vision and then central vision will be affected and blindness may result. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S.
What Causes Glaucoma?
The most common type of glaucoma occurs when the internal pressure in your eyes increases enough to result in the nerve being damaged. The increase in pressure happens when the passages that normally allow fluid in your eyes to drain become clogged or blocked. The reasons that the passages become blocked are not known.
Who Gets Glaucoma?
Glaucoma most often occurs in people over age 40. People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans, and those who are very nearsighted or diabetic are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
How Can I Tell if I Have Glaucoma?
The most common type of glaucoma develops gradually and painlessly. Usually there are no symptoms you would notice until the disease has progressed.
Can Glaucoma Be Prevented?
Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if diagnosed and treated early, it can be controlled.
How is Glaucoma Detected?
Glaucoma can be detected by a comprehensive optometric examination which includes a tonometry test to measure the pressure in your eyes; an examination of the inside of your eyes and optic nerves; and a visual field test to check for changes in central and side vision.
How is Glaucoma Treated?
The treatment for glaucoma includes prescription eye drops and medicines to lower the pressure in your eyes. In some cases, laser treatment or surgery may be effective in reducing pressure. Dr. Cantrell is train and licensed to detect and treat glaucoma.
Will Vision Be Restored After Treatment?
Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be restored. That is why Dr. Cantrell and the American Optometric Association recommend annual eye examinations for people at risk for glaucoma (if indicated, more frequent examinations may be recommended).
What is Dry Eye?
The tears your eyes produce are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Dry eye means that your eyes do not produce enough tears or that you produce tears that do not have the proper chemical composition. Dry eye can cause vision to be blurry or fluctuate, and can even cause damage to the eye tissues. Because dry eye is common, many people don’t realize that it can be a serious condition which requires treatment.
What Causes Dry Eye?
Often, dry eye is part of the natural aging process. It can also be caused by blinking or eyelid problems, medications like antihistamines, oral contraceptives and antidepressants, a dry climate, wind and dust, previous injuries to your eyes, and general health problems like arthritis or Sjogren’s syndrome. Chronic, low-grade inflammation may be the underlying cause of dry eye for many people.
What Are Signs/Symptoms of Dry Eye?
If you have dry eye, your symptoms may include irritated, scratchy, dry, uncomfortable or red eyes, a burning sensation or feeling of something foreign in your eyes and blurred vision. Excessive dry eyes may damage eye tissue, scar your cornea (the front covering of your eyes) and impair vision and make contact lens wear difficult. Contrary to what may be expected, many people with dry eye actually experience watering eyes. This is a bothersome natural reflex in response to the dryness.
How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?
If you have symptoms of dry eye, see Dr. Cantrell for a comprehensive examination. Tests specifically designed to evaluate the quality, amount and distribution of you tear film will be performed.
Can Dry Eye Be Cured?
Dry eye cannot be cured, but Dr. Cantrell can prescribe treatment, so your eyes remain healthy and the effects on your vision can be limited. Some treatments that may be prescribed at Envision Eyecare include using artificial tears/lubricating gels or ointments, eyelid treatments to improve the function of tear producing glands, medications to treat inflammation, and the insertion of small plugs in the drainage ducts of the eyes to slow tear drainage. Sometimes, surgical closure of the drainage ducts may be recommended.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of all or part of the normally clear lens within your eye. There are many different types of cataracts which results in blurred or distorted vision.
Who Gets Cataracts?
Cataracts are most often found in persons over age 55, but they are also occasionally found in younger people.
What Causes Cataracts?
No one knows exactly what causes cataracts, but it is known that a chemical change occurs within your eye to cause the lens to become cloudy. This may be due to advancing age, heredity, an injury or disease. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight over one’s lifetime, cigarette smoking or the use of certain medications are also risk factors for the development of cataracts.
What Are Signs/Symptoms of Cataracts?
Although cataracts develop without pain or discomfort, there are some indications that a cataract may be forming. These include blurred or hazy vision, the appearance of spots in front of the eyes, increased sensitivity to glare or the feeling of having a film over the eyes. A temporary improvement in near vision may also indicate formation of a cataract.
How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?
During a comprehensive eye examination, Dr. Cantrell can diagnose a cataract and monitor its development. Dr. Cantrell’s digital imaging system allows pictures of your cataracts to be taken so that they may be closely monitored and easily discussed with you.
Can Cataracts Be Prevented or Treated?
Currently, there is no proven method to prevent cataracts from forming. As cataracts develop, Dr. Cantrell can prescribe changes in eyeglasses or contact lenses to maintain good vision. If your cataract develops to the point that it affects your daily activities despite the best possible glasses or contact lenses, Dr. Cantrell can refer you for a cataract surgery consultation. If cataract surgery is chosen, the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with a plastic artificial lens. Dr. Cantrell is trained and licensed to co-manage cataract care. So, after surgery, you can return for follow-up care at Envision Eyecare.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar and can cause many health problems including diabetic retinopathy.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetes can weaken and cause changes in the small blood vessels that nourish your eye’s retina, the delicate, light sensitive lining of the back of the eye. These blood vessels may begin to function poorly, leak, swell, or grow outward from the retina into the gel inside the eye.
What Are Signs/Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy may cause blurred vision, or they may produce no visual symptoms at all. As the disease progresses, you may notice a cloudiness of vision, blind spots or floaters.
Can Diabetic Retinopathy Cause Blindness?
If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness, which is one reason why it is important to have your eyes examined regularly by your doctor of optometry. This is especially true if you are a diabetic or if you have a family history of diabetes.
How is Diabetic Retinopathy Detected?
To detect diabetic retinopathy, Dr. Cantrell can look inside your eyes with an instrument called an ophthalmoscope that lights and magnifies the blood vessels in your eyes. The eyes are the only place on the body where blood vessels can be seen without having to look through skin or tissue. Dr. Cantrell’s digital imaging system allows pictures of your retina and blood vessels to be taken so that diabetic changes may be closely monitored and easily discussed with you.
How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
Depending on its location in your retina and on the severity of the damage, treatments for diabetic retinopathy include monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels, laser treatment and other surgical treatments can be used to reduce its progression and decrease the risk of vision loss. Early treatment is important because once damage has occurred, the effects are usually permanent.
Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Prevented?
You can help prevent diabetic retinopathy by taking your prescribed medication as instructed, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, controlling high blood pressure, avoiding alcohol and avoiding smoking.
How Often Should I Have My Eyes Checked if I Have Diabetes?
Annual dilated eye examinations are a must for every person with diabetes. If diabetic retinopathy is detected, more frequent examination may be needed.
What Are Other Ways Diabetes Affects Eyes?
Diabetic retinopathy is just one way diabetes can affect eyes. People with diabetes are 40% more likely to develop glaucoma and 60% more likely to develop cataracts. Changes in blood sugar levels can also cause the lens inside the eye to swell or shrink causing changes in vision. Dr. Cantrell can do testing for all of these conditions during a comprehensive eye examination.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in America. It results from changes to the macula, a portion of the retina that is responsible for clear, sharp vision, and is located at the back of the eye.There are two types of macular degeneration. In the “dry” type, the tissue of the macula becomes thin and stops functioning properly. The “wet” type is less common and results when fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula.
What Are Signs/Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
Some common symptoms are a gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly, distorted vision, a gradual loss of color vision and a dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision.
How is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?
During a comprehensive eye examination Dr. Cantrell can use special tests and instruments to check how the tissue in your macula looks and functions. Dr. Cantrell’s digital imaging system allows pictures to be taken of the tissue inside your eyes so that changes may be closely monitored over time.
How is Macular Degeneration Treated?
Most people with macular degeneration have the dry form, for which there is no laser treatment available. The wet form may require early diagnosis and laser treatment to slow its progression. There is no “cure” for macular degeneration. However, recent research indicates certain vitamins and minerals may help prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration. Also, daily monitoring with a vision test you do at home is important in watching for changes that may require treatment. Ask Dr. Cantrell for more information.
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a vision disorder that occurs when the normally round cornea (the front part of the eye) becomes thin and irregular (cone) shaped. This abnormal shape prevents the light entering the eye from being focused correctly on the retina and causes distortion of vision. The condition usually appears in the late teens or late 20s. Keratoconus may progress for 10-20 years and slow in its progression. Each eye may be affected differently. As keratoconus progresses, the cornea bulges more and vision may become more distorted.
What Are Signs/Symptoms of Keratoconus?
In its earliest states, keratoconus causes slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased glare and increased sensitivity to light. Keratoconus often results in monocular double-vision, in which a person sees multiple images in each eye.In a small number of cases, the cornea will swell and cause a sudden and significant decrease in vision. The swelling occurs when the strain of the cornea’s protruding cone-like shape causes a tiny crack to develop. The swelling may last for weeks or months as the crack heals and is gradually replaced by scar tissue. If this sudden swelling does occur, Dr. Cantrell can prescribe eye drops for temporary relief, but there are no medical treatments that can prevent the disorder from progressing.
How is Keratoconus Treated?
Eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be used to correct the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism that is caused by the early stages for keratoconus. As the disorder progresses and the cornea continues to thin and change shape, rigid gas permeable contact lenses can be prescribed to correct vision adequately. In most cases, this is adequate. The contact lenses must be carefully fitted, and frequent checkups and lens changes may be needed to achieve and maintain good vision. In a few cases, surgical treatment is necessary. However, even after surgery, eyeglasses or contact lenses are often still needed to correct vision. Dr. Cantrell has experience helping patients with keratoconus achieve their best possible vision.
Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
Where Am I Exposed to UV Radiation?
Because UV radiation is a component of solar energy, most exposure to UV radiation comes from being in sunlight, but it can also be given off by artificial sources like welding machines, tanning beds and lasers.
What is the Danger of UV Radiation Exposure?
You are probably aware of the danger posed by UV radiation to your skin, but may not realize that exposure to UV radiation can harm your eyes and affect your vision as well. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can be serious. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over a period of many years may increase your chance of developing a cataract, and may cause damage to the retina. The effects of UV radiation are cumulative. This means the longer your eyes are exposed to UV radiation, the greater the risk of developing such conditions as cataracts or macular degeneration in later life.
What Do I Need to Know About UV Protection for Eyes?
Always wear quality sunglasses when you are working outdoors, participating in outdoor sports, taking a walk, running errands or doing anything in the sun. Don’t forget protection for children and teenagers - they typically spend more time in the sun than adults. Be sure to see Dr. Cantrell annually for a thorough eye examination. It is a good way to monitor your eye health, maintain good vision, and keep track of your UV radiation protection needs as well as new advances in UV protection.
What Are the Features of Good Sunglasses?
To provide protection for your eyes, your sunglasses should: block 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation; screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light; be perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection; and have lenses that are gray or brown. Wrap-around frames can provide additional protection from harmful UV radiation. Polarized lenses effectively combat reflected glare. They can provide added comfort and better vision for those who do a lot of driving or boating, or fishing. Sunglass options available at Envision Eyecare will incorporate the latest features to provide excellence in visual performance while protecting your eyes from the sun’s radiation.
What is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer that lines the inner eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. The three main types of conjunctivitis are infectious, allergic, and chemical. The infectious type commonly called “pink eye,” is caused by a contagious virus or bacteria. Your body’s allergies to pollen, cosmetics, animals, or fabrics often bring on allergic conjunctivitis. And, irritants like air pollution, noxious fumes and chlorine in swimming pools may produce the chemical form.
What Are Signs/Symptoms of Conjunctivitis?
Common symptoms of conjunctivitis are red watery eyes, inflamed inner eyelids, blurred vision, a scratchy feeling in the eyes and, sometimes, a discharge. Some types of conjunctivitis can have harmful long-term effects on vision if left untreated.
Is Conjunctivitis Contagious?
Conjunctivitis caused by a virus or by bacteria is often highly contagious. To control the spread of infectious conjunctivitis, you should keep your hands away from your eyes, thoroughly wash your hands before applying eye medications and do not share towels, washcloths, pillow-cases, cosmetics or eye drops with other.
How is Conjunctivitis Treated?
The treatment for conjunctivitis depends on the underlying cause. Many types of conjunctivitis can be treated with medications and/or eyedrops. Dr. Cantrell is trained and licensed to prescribe treatments, including medications and eyedrops, for the treatment of eye infections and allergies.