Cataracts are the leading cause of visual loss in adults age 55 and older and the leading cause of blindness worldwide. By age 65, about half of the human population has a cataract, and by age 75, almost everyone has a cataract. However, cataracts are highly treatable, and through advances in both cataract surgery and intraocular lenses (IOLs), more people are experiencing full restoration of their vision than ever before.
What are the Options?
Once a cataract has formed, there are no medications, diets, glasses or exercises that can reverse the process. Surgical removal of the clouded lens is the only way to completely restore lost vision.
A cataract can progress very slowly, and, in some cases, the eye's lens will simply thicken without clouding, causing onlyloss in distance vision. In those earlier stages, or when clouding of the lens isn't present, symptoms can often be addressed with h4er glasses or contact lenses, brighter lighting, or the use of a magnifying glass. When vision loss progresses to the pointwhere it affects your daily life and/or safety, surgery to remove the lens will likely be necessary. In situations where a cataract is in combination with one or more diseases or conditions, your doctor also may recommend surgery even if your vision is only mildly impaired. This could happen if your cataract is interfering with the examination or treatment of other parts of your eye. When a cataract is the only disease present, surgery is, in the vast majority of cases, very successful. In fact, millionsof people in the U.S. undergo this vision-saving procedure each year. If you have cataracts in both eyes, your doctor may recommend surgery on the eye with the poorer vision first. The second procedure will be completed after the first eye has healed. Unlike other diseases or conditions, where the eye care professional often dictates when surgery or treatments are necessary, cataract surgery is a decision arrived at by both patient and physician. Ultimately, only you know how your vision is affected and how much your cataract interferes with your quality of life.
What is Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is a simple operation where a surgeon removes the eye's clouded natural lens and replaces it with an artificial, intraocular lens (IOL). The entire procedure is generally done on an outpatient basis and usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. Patients may experience little to no pain and can usually return to their normal activities the following day.
What is an Intraocular Lens (IOL)?
Much like a camera, your eye's natural crystalline lens plays an important role in focusing images. When a cataract clouds the lens, it makes it virtually impossible to see clearly. When your cataract progresses to the point that daily tasks become difficult and interferes with your quality of life, you will need cataract surgery. During surgery, your eye's natural lens will be replaced by an intraocular lens, or IOL. An intraocular lens is an artificial lens made of plastic, silicone or acrylic that performs the function of the eye's natural lens. Most of today's IOLs are around a quarter of an inch in diameter and soft enough to be folded so they can be placed into the eye through a very small incision.
To help keep your eyes comfortable and your vision optimal, a normal, thin film of tears coats your eyes. Three main layers make up this tear film:
The innermost layer is the thinnest. It is a layer of mucin (or mucus). This very thin layer of mucus is produced by the cells in the conjunctiva (the clear skin that lines the eye). The mucus helps the overlying watery layer to spread evenly over the eye.
The middle (or aqueous) layer is the largest and the thickest. This layer is essentially a very dilute saltwater solution. The lacrimal glands under the upper lids and the accessory tear glands produce this watery layer. This layer's function is to keep the eye moist and comfortable, as well as to help flush out any dust, debris, or foreign objects that may get into the eye. Defects of the aqueous layer are the most common cause of dry eye syndrome, also referred to as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS).
The most superficial layer is a very thin layer of lipids (fats or oils). These lipids are produced by the meibomian glands and the glands of Zeis (oil glands in the eyelids). The main function of this lipid layer is to help decrease evaporation of the watery layer beneath it.
Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a common disorder of the tear film, affecting a significant percentage of the population, especially those older than 40 years of age. The estimated number of people affected ranges from 25-30 million in the United States. Worldwide, the incidence rate closely parallels that of the United States. DES can affect any race and is more common in women than in men.
Self-Care at Home
To help alleviate your symptoms from DES, you may want to try these self-help tips at home.
A humidifier puts more moisture in the air. With more moisture in the air, your tears evaporate more slowly, keeping your eyes more comfortable. Both furnaces in the winter and air conditioning in the summer decrease the humidity in the air.
Excessive air movement dries out your eyes. Avoid having excessive air movement by decreasing the speed of ceiling fans and/or oscillating fans.
Large amounts of dust or other particulate matter in the air may worsen the symptoms of dry eye. In those situations, an air filter may be helpful.
Hot compresses and eyelid scrubs/massage with baby shampoo help by providing a thicker, more stable lipid layer. This is especially helpful if you have meibomian gland dysfunction, rosacea, or blepharitis. The heat warms up the oil in the oil glands, making it flow more easily; the massaging action helps get the oil out of the glands. The cleansing action decreases the number of bacteria that break down the oil.
Artificial tears and lubricating eye drops and gels (available over the counter) help provide more moisture and lubrication for the surface of your eye. They are typically used about four times a day, but they can be used as often as needed. Preservative-free solutions are recommended if you wish to use artificial tears more than six times a day. There is no single over-the-counter drop that is best for everyone. Each individual will determine which drop provides the most relief from symptoms. Some drops may have a longer effect than others.
Lubricating eye ointments are much thicker than eye drops and gels. Because ointments are so thick, they last much longer than eye drops and gels. However, because of their thickness, ointments may blur your vision if used during the day. Therefore, they are typically used to lubricate the eyes overnight while you are asleep.
If you notice your eyes are dry mainly while you are reading or watching TV, taking frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest and become moist and comfortable again is helpful. Closing your eyes for 10 seconds every five to 10 minutes will increase your comfort, as will blinking more frequently.
Here at Valley Vision Clinic we can help you treat this very common eye disorder and improve your active daily living and lifestyle.
EYE INJURY & EYE DISEASE
Eye injuries can occur at any time. Our office is equiped to handle most eye injuries. The primary instrument we use is a biomicroscope, sometimes referred to as a slit lamp. The biomicroscope has a high magnification and is particularly designed to aid us in evaluating the extent of an eye injury. Whether it is a laceration, foreign particle embedded or a burn, the biomicroscope is the primary tool to carefully examination the injury.
Embedded Foreign Bodies
A common injury is a hot iron metalic foreign body embedded in the cornea. Grinding or drilling in iron or other metals will release particles that are hot and when they hit the eye they embed themselves in the cornea. If it is iron, as in this example, it will immediatley begin to rust due to the salty consistency of our tears. When the metal particle is removed, there is a remaining rust deposit that has infiltrated the surrounding cornea. We have experience at removing these rust spots. With proper medical treatment these injuries resolve well. If the foreign particle was embedded in the central visual axis of the cornea, there may be a scar remaining which could effect the patients ultimate visual acuity. Safety glasses are always recommended to prevent these type of injuries.
Contusions, otherwise referred to as a “black eye” can result in more than just the obvious bruises on the face. The retina is
the nerve tissue that senses light which lines the back of the eye. There is a blood vessel layer under the retina. This is very delicate and sensitive tissue.
A compression type of injury can knock the retina loose and cause bleeding underneath. These examples show both retinal hemorrhage and retinal detachment. Both can result in blindness to the effected eye. Immediate examination and subsequent treatment is needed in these type of injuries.
Emergency Eye Care
If you have symptoms of “Flashes of Light” in your vision, when there is no light to explain the flashes, this could mean that there is something happening on the back of the eye. The eye does not have any pain sensors so flashes are your best clue that there is something wrong. In contrast the cornea (the clear window on the front of the eye) has more nerve pain sensors that any other part of the body. Injury to the cornea can be incredibly painful. However, in both cases, immediate treatment is needed. Our office staff is well trained to know how to expedite the treatment of these type of injuries. Call immediately when an injury occurs. We are here to help.
For emergencies call us at 435-896-8142 both Doctor cell phones are on our voicemail.
COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a very real problem for many people who spend hours daily in front of a computer screen. Sometimes, simply rearranging your work environment to create better ergonomics is all you may need to do to reduce eye strain and other vision problems related to CVS. In some cases, a good pair of computer eyeglasses may help you see better at just the right distance range needed for viewing a computer screen.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that occurs when there are changes to the macula. The macula is a small portion of the retina that is located on the inside back layer of the eye. It reduces central vision and makes seeing objects and details straight ahead difficult or impossible. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among people over age 50.
What causes macular degeneration?
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration. In the “dry,” or atrophic type, the tissue of the macula gradually becomes thin and stops functioning properly. “Wet,” or exudative macular degeneration is less common and results when fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula and blur central vision. Vision loss from the “wet” form can be rapid and severe.
What are signs/symptoms of macular degeneration?
Some signs/symptoms of macular degeneration are:
A gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly; Objects appear to be distorted in shape and straight lines appear wavy or crooked; A loss of clear color vision; and A dark or empty area appearing in the center vision.
In the early stages, signs/symptoms of macular degeneration may not be noticeable, so regular eye examinations are important in early detection.
How is macular degeneration diagnosed?
There is no cure for “dry” macular degeneration; nor can central vision lost to macular degeneration be restored. Microcurrent therapy has also shown some improvement and slowed progression in many “dry & wet” macular degeneration cases. However, doctors now believe that there is a link between nutrition and the progression of “dry” macular degeneration. They suggest that a low-fat diet, rich in dark green leafy vegetables, including spinach, some types of leaf lettuce and broccoli, can slow vision loss due to macular degeneration. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients such as lutein/zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and many other vitamins and antioxidants to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration. Ask Dr. Luekenga or Dr. Graf about your individual case. If it is detected early, the “wet” form of macular degeneration can be treated.
Laser treatment options are also available which are not permanent cures, but help slow the rate of central vision loss and progression in this disease. Low vision devices such as telescopic and microscopic lenses, magnifying glasses, illuminated magnifiers, Systems of Sight and closed circuit television systems can often be prescribed to help make the most effective use of remaining vision and restore function. We offer these systems and products at Valley Vision Clinic & Optical. Ask us about the latest research and appropriate advanced treatment for you.
Glaucoma is an eye disorder in which the optic nerve of the eye suffers damage, permanently damaging first peripheral vision in the affected eye(s) and progressing to complete blindness if left untreated. There are many forms of glaucoma and we are trained in diagnosing and treating this silent killer ofvision. We have the latest state of the art equipment to help diagnose and treat glaucoma to preserve vision and maintain great vision throughout life.
Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar. This condition also can affect the eye as well as other areas of the body if left untreated or unregulated. A person with diabetes must have their eyes examined at least once every year to prevent diabetic retinopathy,partial vision loss, or blindness. We have the latest state of the art equipment to help diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy and aid in maintaining great vision throughout life.