Your eye health is our top priority. We want to keep your eyes healthy through regular eye health evaluations, communication, and education. This page lists a few of the most common eye conditions and diseases.
There are two types of blepharitis. Seborrheic blepharitis is often part of an overall skin condition called seborrhea, which may also affect the scalp, chest, back and the area behind the ears. The second form of blepharitis – staph blepharitis – is caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria that is normally present on our skin.
The second form of blepharitis - staph blepharitis - is a more common condition, caused by bacteria, that begins in childhood and may continue through adulthood.
Hormones, nutrition, general physical condition, and even stress may contribute to seborrheic blepharitis. Build-ups of naturally occurring bacteria contribute to staph blepharitis.
Blepharitis could be described as dandruff of the eyelids. Seborrheic blepharitis causes redness of the eyelids, flaking and scaling of the eyelashes, and greasy, waxy scales. Staph blepharitis also causes redness of the eyelid margins and flaking of the lashes, and can cause loss of eyelashes, eyelid scarring, and red eye.
Eyelid scrubs with baby shampoo can reduce the symptoms of blepharitis. Application of hot packs to the eyes can also help. Staph blepharitis may require antibiotic drops and ointments.
A cataract is a cloudiness that occurs in the natural lens inside of the eye. The lens is made mostly of water and protein that is arranged to let light through. Sometimes the protein clumps, blocking light and making the lens appear cloudy. Cataracts are not a disease; we will all develop cataracts as we get older.
A person with cataracts may notice faded colors, problems with light (such as halos, or headlights that seem too bright), or poor night vision.
Your eye doctor can detect the presence of cataracts through a thorough eye exam, including a microscopic examination of the inside of the eye. When vision is impaired to the point that it interferes with a person’s daily activities, surgery may be considered. In this out-patient procedure, the cloudy portion of the natural lens is removed, and an implant is put in its place. Most patients enjoy improved vision immediately following the procedure, and many find themselves much less dependant on glasses for their distance vision.
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Pink eye is most often a viral infection, but it may also be caused by bacteria or an allergic reaction. Viral and bacterial pink eye can be highly contagious.
Prevention & Treatment
To avoid spreading conjunctivitis, wash your hands often, don't touch the infected area with your hands, don't share wash cloths or towels, and avoid using makeup which may become contaminated. A child with pink eye should be kept from school for a few days. Sometimes your doctor will need to prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments to treat conjunctivitis.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition associated with diabetes. High levels of blood sugar may damage tiny blood vessels in your eye, causing poor circulation. New vessels may form to replace the damaged vessels. The new vessels can leak or burst, creating a hemorrhage and resulting in blurred vision or even blindness.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
- Blurred or darkened vision
- Sudden loss of vision
Risk Factors & Treatment
It is critical that every diabetic patient have a thorough eye examination with dilation every year. When retinopathy is diagnosed early, treatments can be more effective in preserving vision. In addition to retinopathy, diabetic patients also have an increased risk of developing cataracts earlier and having glaucoma. If you have diabetes, make sure you control your blood sugar level. This will reduce your risk of getting diabetic eye disease, as well as complications involving the heart, kidneys, and other organ systems.
Dry Eye Syndrome
If your eyes are often gritty or dry, you may have dry eye syndrome, which affects almost 10 million Americans. Dry eye syndrome is caused by a lack of, or poor quality of, tears. Tears lubricate the outer layers of the eye called the cornea and conjunctiva. If the tears are not composed of a proper balance of mucous, water, and oil, the eye becomes irritated.
Dry eye syndrome leads to a number of symptoms, including itching, irritation, burning, excessive tearing, redness, blurred vision that improves with blinking, and discomfort after long periods of watching television, driving, using a computer, or reading.
There are many factors that can contribute to dry eye syndrome. These include dry, hot, or windy climates; high altitudes; air-conditioned rooms; and cigarette smoke. Contact lens wearers, people with drier skin, and the elderly are more likely to develop dry eye syndrome. You may also be more at risk if you take certain medications, have a thyroid condition, a vitamin-A deficiency, Parkinson’s or Sjorgen’s disease, or if you are a woman going through menopause.
Glaucoma is a common eye disorder affecting millions of Americans. It is caused by too much fluid pressure on the inside of the eye. The fluid in the eyes helps to nourish and cleanse the inside of the eye by constantly flowing in and out. When fluid is prevented from flowing out, the intraocular pressure increases and damages the optic nerve. This causes a gradual, painless loss in peripheral vision.
When too much fluid is produced or the fluid is prevented from flowing out, the intraocular pressure increases and damages the optic nerve. This causes a gradual loss in peripheral vision.
Those suffering from open-angle glaucoma may have no symptoms until the disease is in advanced stages. With advanced glaucoma, patients develop tunnel vision, where the peripheral field of vision decreases. Glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness. Narrow-angle glaucoma, which is less common, may cause sudden sharp pain in the eyes, blurred vision, and even nausea or vomiting. It can cause blindness in a matter of days, and requires immediate medical attention.
Risk Factors & Treatment
Heredity seems to be a risk factor. Also, you may be at greater risk if you are over 45, of African descent, very near-sighted, or diabetic. Finally, if you have used steroids or cortisone for a long period of time, or if you have suffered an eye injury in the past, you have a greater chance of developing glaucoma. Treatment may include prescription eye drops, laser treatment, and other surgeries. The goal of treatment is to reduce the pressure, thereby limiting damage to the optic nerve and preserving vision.
Macular degeneration is a disease which affects a small area of the retina known as the macula. The macula is a specialized spot on the retina that allows us to see the fine detail of whatever we look at directly. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula begins to deteriorate.
"Wet" vs. "Dry"
Most often, macular degeneration is accompanied by the formation of yellow deposits called "drusen" under the macula, which dry out or thin the macula. This is called "dry" macular degeneration. In some cases, abnormal blood vessels develop under the macula and leak fluid. This is called "wet" macular degeneration.
A number of uncontrollable factors contribute to macular degeneration, including age, sex, eye color, farsightedness, and race. Risk factors you can control include smoking, high blood pressure, exposure to harmful sunlight, and diet.
It is difficult for patients to detect dry macular degeneration in its early stages. The most common symptom is blurred vision. Wet macular degeneration progresses much faster when it occurs. In addition to blur, symptoms include distortion or a dark spot in the central vision. Both forms of macular degeneration can cause severe visual impairment.
Treatment for dry macular degeneration includes cessation of smoking, control of high blood pressure, and nutritional support. There are recent developments in the treatment of wet macular degeneration with Photo Dynamic Therapy. When successful, this stops the leaking of blood while limiting damage to the sensitive retina above it.
The part of the eye which collects light and transmits the images to the optic nerve and brain is the retina. It lines the inner back wall of the eye. When the retina separates from the back wall, it is known as retinal detachment. It is a serious condition which can cause permanent damage and vision loss if not treated quickly.
It is important to note that a retinal detachment may be completely painless. However, certain sudden changes in your vision will likely occur. You may experience a blind spot too small to notice, or a more noticeable shadow which obscures your vision. A sudden increase in “floaters,” which look like small particles or fine threads, may also be noticed. Finally, flashes of light are associated with retinal detachment.
Most retinal detachments are not caused by any specific injury or event, but eye injuries, tumors, and cataract surgery can cause retinal detachment. Very near-sighted individuals and the elderly are at greater risk for spontaneous detachment. Also, diabetic retinopathy, a condition associated with diabetes, can cause bleeding which leads to retinal detachment.