A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens which lies behind the iris and the pupil and focuses light onto the retina, adjusting the eye’s focus. The lens is mostly made of water and protein. One function of the lens is to absorb UV radiation from the sun, preventing damage to the back of the eye. These UV rays cause the proteins to clump together, resulting in the clouding of the lens.
Most cataracts occur gradually as we age and don’t become bothersome until after age 55. However, cataracts can be present at birth, develop in children, or as the result of an injury to the eye. Cataracts can also be caused by diseases such as diabetes or can occur as the result of long-term use of certain medications, such as steroids. An annual comprehensive eye exam can detect cataracts from their earliest stage and your eyecare professional can develop the best treatment plan.
Glaucoma is a general term for a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve which can result in blindness. Glaucoma has a genetic tendency and occurs most often in people over the age of 40.
Risk Factors for Developing Glaucoma:
- Family history of Glaucoma
- African American over the age of 40
- Hispanic over the age of 60
- Medication that increases eye pressure
- Eye injury
Glaucoma is typically associated with the gradual increase of internal eye pressure, which is typically painless and unnoticeable by the patient. Once damage as a result of Glaucoma has occurred, there are no current methods for reversing this damage. Early detection of Glaucoma is key to the successful management of the disease and the preservation of vision. Patients may not notice an immediate change in vision as a result of glaucoma, making an annual comprehensive eye exam, with dilation, the most powerful tool in the early detection and management of this disease. Glaucoma can be diagnosed years in advance with the use of the latest in technology, including spectral domain OCT and electrophysiology testing.
Macular Degeneration, often times referred to as Age-Related Macular Degeneration or AMD, has historically been associated with advancing age. This disease causes damage to the macula which can result in the decline or loss of central vision.
Risk Factors for Developing AMD:
- Family History & Genetics
- Low Macular Pigment Density
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop AMD than men
- Blue Light Exposure
AMD is a progressive disease and often, patients will not notice a change in their vision until the disease is in an advanced stage. While the disease is manageable, an annual eye exam and following an ocular wellness plan can ensure your best chance for preventing the development of this disease.
Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a common ocular complaint which falls under two categories: aqueous deficient, where patients do not produce an adequate amount of tears, and evaporative, where the tears that are produced are of poor quality. Symptoms of Dry Eye may include, but are not limited to, irritated, gritty, or burning eyes, a feeling of something in the eyes, excess watering, and blurred vision.
Risk factors for Dry Eye Syndrome include:
- Environmental Condition
- Medical Conditions
Dry Eye Syndrome can be diagnosed through an annual comprehensive eye exam. The treatment options vary with the severity of the symptoms. Treatment will often include adding tears, increasing tear production, conserving tears, or the treatment of ocular surface or eyelid inflammation.