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When it comes to caring for your eyes and eyesight, regular visits to a good eye doctor are essential. An eye test every 2 years is a good idea.<br…

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When it comes to caring for your eyes and eyesight, regular visits to a good eye doctor are essential. An eye test every 2 years is a good idea.

During those check-ups, the eye doctor will examine your eyes not only for acuity of vision, but also for early signs of certain eye problems which can creep up on us quietly and steal our eyesight. As we approach the age of 40, it’s time to pay more attention to these possibilities.

Here are some eye diseases to ask about.

Glaucoma

Ask your eye doctor for a glaucoma pressure test.

Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye conditions related to the pressure inside the eyeball (intraocular pressure). Our eyes need a certain amount of pressure to work correctly, but in glaucoma, that pressure is increased.

The higher pressure causes no discomfort or pain

Without a pressure test done by an eye doctor, we wouldn’t know the pressure had increased. But it works silently to damage the optic nerve, where it leaves the eyeball to carry visual information to our brain.

What increases the intraocular pressure in glaucoma is blocked drainage.

Normally, the eye fluid (aqueous fluid, unrelated to tears) can drain from the eye back into the bloodstream by seeping through tiny channels in the inside corners of the eyes.

As fluid is created, some drains out, keeping the intraocular pressure even and steady.

When the aqueous fluid is blocked from draining out enough to balance the new fluid being created, the intraocular pressure rises, progressively damaging the optic nerve, and causing us to gradually become blind.

Detached retina

Ask for a full eye examination to check on the condition of the retina.

Our eyes are like little cameras and the retina is like the film. It’s the inside back surface of the eye, where images are formed of what we see, and are then transmitted as electrical activity to the brain, by the optic nerve.

If the retina is at all weakened, for example by a little hole or tear, then gradually the eye fluid (intraocular fluid) can leak underneath it and cause it to peel off.

When it’s not smoothly lining the back of the eyeball, it stops functioning well as the film in this little camera. Images deposited on it are now blurry or dim.

Aside from blurriness, you might notice

A shadow encroaching on your vision on one side;

Occasional bright flashes; and/or

Showers of dark spots (floaters).

If these symptoms become more severe and you notice any diminishing of your vision, see an eye doctor immediately, to avoid progressive damage to your eyesight.

This condition can be treated, either by a laser or a freezing treatment, if it’s caught early enough. If not, surgery under general anesthesia will be needed.

Cataracts

Ask what might be the cause of your visual symptoms.

Just as a camera has a lens which focuses light onto the film, so our eyes have a lens which focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye.

Sometimes, most often as we age, the lens can become cloudy. This will impair our vision, and cleaning our glasses will be of no help.

Symptoms

Lights may become too bright, dazzling you

Colors may start looking faded

Things may look misty or dim

If you find that you?re having trouble with driving, reading, using the computer, or any other activities that require good visual acuity, see an eye doctor without delay.

Uveitis

Ask what’s causing this inflammation in your eyes and whether it can be cured.

The uvea is the middle layer of tissue around our eyeball, with the outer layer being the sclera (including the cornea), and the inner layer the retina, which is at the back, but also curves around towards the front of the eye.

The uvea can become inflamed in a number of ways that are different in each individual. There are many causes for it, many ways it can affect other parts of the eye, and some other conditions in the body that it can relate to.

The term intraocular inflammation is used to include all the variations. There are many tests that your eye doctor could run, depending on how the uveitis appears in your case.

Treatment goals

If there’s pain or discomfort, to relieve it

Preventing loss of eyesight

To address the cause, if that’s possible

Your eye doctor may prescribe some type of eye drops, or corticosteriods, or some newer drug. Once it occurs, uveitis tends to stay, and must be controlled when it can?t be cured.

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