Eye Disease Diagnosis & Treatment

Some of the eye disorders that we check for during an exam include:

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a slowly progressive disease of the eye where they optic nerve is damaged, leading initially to peripheral vision loss and eventually, if left untreated, to blindness.  Glaucoma is often associated with high intraocular pressures, but can also occur with normal pressures.

We screen patients for glaucoma during routine eye exams by checking intraocular pressures and assessing the appearance of the optic nerves.  If we see any suspicious signs, we also have a Humphrey Visual Field and a GDx laser imaging scan that we can use to do further testing.

Glaucoma is usually initially treated with eye drops to lower the intraocular pressure, though in certain cases laser treatment or surgery is required.  In these instances, we will co-manage patients with the glaucoma surgeons.
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Cataracts

Cataracts are a haziness that occurs to the lens inside the eye and can lead to blurred vision as well as extreme glare from lights.  Cataracts develop in everyone with age, although certain conditions such as use of steroids and some other medications, diabetes, and ultraviolet light exposure can hasten the process.

Cataracts initially lead to changes in a person’s glasses prescription, but eventually cause the vision to be blurred regardless of what strength of glasses they use.  Once the cataracts have reached the point where they are affecting a person’s daily activities, then the treatment is surgery where the old hazy lens is removed and a new clear plastic lens is inserted in the eye.  After cataract surgery, many people no longer need glasses for seeing distance.  At Village Optical, we co-manage pre and post-operatively with the cataract surgeons.
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Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The macula is the area in your retina that is responsible for your central, sharpest vision.  Macular degeneration is a disease that damages this area and can lead to distortions or blind spots in the central vision. 

There are two types of macular degeneration (AMD): the dry form and the wet form.  Dry AMD is when a build up of wastes in the macula called drusen, leads to pigment changes and possibly atrophy of this tissue.  Currently, there is not much to be done for dry AMD although the use of a certain combination of vitamins has been shown to decrease the risk of progression of the disease in both eyes.  Wet AMD is when new blood vessels begin to grow and leak in the macula.  There are some drug injections that can help stop these blood vessels, as well as new therapies being researched and tested all the time.
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Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye is a common disorder that can lead to scratchy, burning, red eyes.  There are many causes of dry eye:  environmental factors such as dry heat or air conditioning, or long-term use of the computer, hormonal changes such as occur with pregnancy or menopause, certain medications including antihistamines or diuretics, systemic diseases like lupus, sjogren’s syndrome, or rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation of the glands along the eyelids, and contact lens use.

Treatment of dry eye usually starts with artificial tear drops, which provide a good quality tear film layer to protect and soothe the eye.  Sometimes oral supplements such as fish oil or flax seed oil can be used to improve the eye’s tear film.  If there is inflammation of the glands in the eyelid that is leading to dryness, a topical or an oral antibiotic may help.  There is also a prescription drop called Restasis that can help decrease the inflammatory causes of dryness and help your eyes produce more tears.

The doctors at Village Optical can do tests to evaluate your tear film and ocular surface to determine which treatment may be best for you.
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Conjunctivitis

There are many different forms of conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.  All of them lead to inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the clear layer that covers the white part of your eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually characterized by a thick discharge and can affect either one or both eyes.  It is treated with antibiotic drops.  Viral conjunctivitis usually involves a foreign body sensation and excessive tearing.  It is highly contagious and usually spreads to both eyes.  Just like with a cold, there is really no way to get rid of viral conjunctivitis with medications.  Certain drops may help alleviate the symptoms by getting rid of some of the inflammation and irritation.  Allergic conjunctivitis usually involves itching and tearing, and affects both eyes.  There are anti-histamine drops available that help treat these cases
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Diseases of the Eye Related to Systemic Diseases

It is important to have regular eye examinations when you have an underlying systemic disease as many can have manifestations in the eye.  Both high blood pressure and diabetes can lead to leaky blood vessels in the retina, as well as areas of the eye that are not getting enough oxygen due to decreased blood flow.  Diseases including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to inflammation inside the eye, and some of the medications used to treat them can cause changes to the macula of the eye.  Multiple sclerosis can cause inflammation of the optic nerves.  Certain sexually transmitted diseases can lead to recurrent conjunctivitis or inflammation in the retina and of the optic nerves.  Regular eye exams allow us to notice any signs of these disorders to get you the proper treatment as early as possible.
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