Common Eye Conditions

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common eye disorder that is, in fact, not one but an entire group of disorders with a common label. It is a disorder that damages the optic nerve, which serves to send the images from the eye to the brain. It was once believed that Glaucoma was caused by high fluid pressure inside the eye (called intraocular pressure). Experts now know that, while high intraocular pressure is a risk factor for glaucoma, it is not the only cause. The early stages of Glaucoma are undetectable, and experts estimate that only half of the people who currently have glaucoma even realize that they are affected. While there is no cure for glaucoma, many medications and procedures exist that can help to slow the disease or stop it altogether. However, like so many eye-related disorders, early diagnosis is essential. Because the early stages of glaucoma have no noticeable symptoms, regular eye exams are recommended for everyone, even those who have no eye-related symptoms or problems.

Diabetes and the Eye

People with diabetes are unfortunately at a higher risk for numerous diabetic eye diseases, which can lead to severe vision loss and sometimes even blindness. Diabetic Retinopathy is an eye disease that damages the blood vessels in the retina, and usually affects both eyes. Diabetic retinopathy can affect people with Type I and Type II diabetes. There are four stages to diabetic Retinopathy: Mild Non-proliferative Retinopathy – Minor swelling occurs in small regions in the tiny blood vessels of the retina. Moderate Non-proliferative Retinopathy – The blood vessels in the retina are blocked. Severe Non-proliferative Retinopathy – The blockage of the blood vessels causes malnourishment to the retina, which causes the retina to send signals to the body to create new blood vessels. Proliferative Retinopathy – The newly formed blood vessels develop along the surface of the retina, and are very fragile. Their fragility can cause them to leak, which can cause severe vision loss and even blindness. This stage can also cause macular edema, which can cause vision loss. There are no common symptoms present during the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. People with diabetes can help prevent the development of diabetic retinopathy by carefully managing their blood sugar level and blood pressure. If a person is in the final stage of diabetic retinopathy (Proliferative Retinopathy), laser treatments are available to help shrink the fragile blood vessels, which can ultimately preserve the rest of your sight.

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, which can cause one’s vision to become blurry. They are very common with age and can occur in one or both eyes.  The clouding usually occurs slowly, but can happen quickly, especially after trauma to the eye.  While cataracts are not painful, they do cause many symptoms such as blurry vision, fewer details, glare while driving or reading, dull colours, changes in your glasses prescription and double vision in one eye. New advances and techniques have made cataract surgery one of the most successful and life-improving surgical procedures performed. We offer the latest procedures available to help remove cataracts and restore your vision, including the placement of Intraocular Lenses. Most cataract surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis and more than 95 percent of surgeries improve vision.

Floaters

Floaters are small specks that move in and out of your field of vision. They may be more noticeable when looking at a plain background. Floaters are tiny clumps of cells inside the vitreous humor (the clear fluid that fills the inside of the eye) that can be different shapes.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is a very serious condition which can cause severe or even permanent vision loss. It occurs when the retina becomes separated from the underlying supportive tissues, which prevents the retina from functioning properly. Some common symptoms may include spots, floaters, flashes of light, poorer vision or a shadow appearance across the top of the eye. No pain is associated with retinal detachment. If you notice any of the above symptoms or believe you have a detached retina it is vitally important to seek ophthalmic care immediately to prevent permanent vision loss.

Dry Eyes

Tears are very important for the eyes, and for a number of reasons. They not only act as a lubricant but also a cleanser – keeping away and washing out dust, debris and foreign objects – and also as an antibacterial, neutralizing any microorganisms which take residence on the eye’s surface. Therefore, when tear production is insufficient, it can create many problems for the eyes. Not only are dry eyes uncomfortable, but they are also more prone to injury and infection. For incidental cases of dry eyes, over-the-counter eye lubricants are all that is required to ease the discomfort. But when the body cannot or does not produce enough tears, or when the tears are drained or evaporated too quickly to properly protect the eye, this can be a condition known as dry eye syndrome. Depending on the cause and extent of dry eye syndrome, it may or may not be able to be completely cured. Even when not cured, however, the symptoms can be managed. One of the treatments for dry eye syndrome is Restasis eye drops, which is a prescription artificial tear formula that contains special materials that not only lubricate and comfort the eye but also encourage the eye to produce more tears. Another possible treatment is the installation of lacrimal plugs, also called punctal plugs, which are inserted into the tear ducts to stop tears from draining off of the surface of the eye too quickly. In more extreme cases, the tear ducts might also be closed surgically. If dry eyes are a result of environmental conditions, it may also be helpful to fight the environmental causes, such as wearing sunglasses in dusty climates or using humidifiers for dry climates. Nutritional insufficiencies can also be to blame for dry eyes, in which case taking nutritional supplements or drinking more water may be advised.

Refractive Errors

A refractive error is when the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly, causing blurred vision. The common refractive disorders are: Myopia also is known as nearsightedness, is when distant objects appear blurry. Myopia is inherited and usually discovered in childhood. As a person ages, myopia can progress, requiring a stronger prescription to correct. Hyperopia also is known as farsightedness, is when close objects appear blurry. Hyperopia is most common in children. It can improve as a person ages. Astigmatism is an irregular curvature on the cornea (front surface of the eye) which causes a person’s vision to be blurred at all distances. If you experience blurred vision, difficulty reading or crossing of the eyes, it may mean you have a refractive disorder. Contact your ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam. Refractive disorders are commonly treated with corrective lenses, whether it be eyeglasses or contact lenses. Some refractive disorders may also be corrected by refractive surgery.

Pterygium

A pterygium is a pinkish-colored patch of tissue that grows on the cornea. Pterygia can potentially grow large enough to seriously obstruct vision, but this is a rare occurrence. More often, it is a cosmetic concern, since the pterygia can be seen when it becomes red and inflamed from dust or sunlight. Eye lubricants are usually an effective treatment for smaller pterygia, since they reduce the swelling and redness, and thus their appearance. When they grow large enough to obstruct vision, however, surgery may be needed.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a universal focusing problem developing in most people around 45 years of age. When eyes are young, the gel inside the internal natural lens is soft so it can change shape to allow people to focus on things at various distances. But as the eye ages, the gel hardens and the lens enlarges and loses its ability to change shape to focus on near objects. People with natural 20/20 distance vision will likely need reading glasses when presbyopia develops.

Proven correction procedures are not currently available to correct presbyopia directly. Even if you achieve excellent vision through surgery, reading glasses are usually necessary beyond 45 years of age. However, new types of surgery to correct presbyopia are being investigated and may be available at our Centres in the future.

Conjunctivitis

Also known as “pink eye” from the redness and inflammation it causes, conjunctivitis is a very common affliction of the cornea that affects millions of people around the world a year. It causes irritation, itching and burning of the conjunctiva, which lines the eyelids, and can have many causes, including allergies, viruses and bacterial infections.

Many times, the disease’s symptoms are easily managed and disappear after several days, but in extreme cases, professional treatment may be needed. If severe cases are left untreated, they may worsen and impair vision.

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