Our top priority is safeguarding the health of your eyes for a lifetime. 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 diseases and conditions.
There are two types of blepharitis. Seborrheic blepharitis is caused by an over production of oil and 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 a more severe 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-up of naturally occurring bacteria contribute to staph blepharitis.
Blepharitis could be described as dandruff of the eyelids. Seborrheic blepharitis results in redness of the eyelids, flaking and scaling of eyelashes, and greasy, waxy scales caused by abnormal tear production. Staph blepharitis can cause small ulcers, itching, loss of eyelashes, eyelid scarring, and even red irritated eyes.
Careful cleaning of the eyelids can reduce seborrheic blepharitis. Application of hot packs to the eyes for 20 minutes a day can also help. Staph blepharitis may require antibiotic drops and ointments.
A cataract is an opacity that occurs in the lens of the eye. The lens is made up mostly of water and proteins that are arranged to let light through. Sometimes the proteins clump, blocking light and making the lens appear cloudy.
A person with cataracts may encounter faded colors, problems with light (such as halos, or headlights that seem too bright), poor night vision, or double vision.
Your eye doctor can detect the presence of cataracts through a thorough eye exam, including a visual acuity test and dilation of the pupils. Cataract surgery is an extremely refined procedure that can improve the quality of life of those individuals whose cataracts have progressed to a level that warrant surgery. At Premier Eyecare, we team with local surgeons to provide you with surgical co-management to ensure you receive the absolute best care.
Conjunctivitis, commonly called pink eye, is a redness of the soft tissue that overlies the eye. It is often accompanied by a discharge (clear, yellow, or white) and itching in the eye.
Pink eye is most often caused by viral infection, but it may also be caused by bacteria or an allergic reaction. Viral pink eye is highly contagious.
Prevention and Treatment:
To avoid spreading conjunctivitis, wash your hands often, do not touch the infected area with your hands, do not 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 an eye doctor will need to prescribe antibiotic eye drops and ointments to clear up conjunctivitis.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition associated with diabetes mellitus. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics can develop retinopathy, although Type 1 diabetics are at higher risk for the development of severe problems. High blood sugar levels over time can cause damage to tiny blood vessels in the eye leading to leakage of blood and other fluids into the retina. If this leakage occurs in the macula, it can lead to macular edema which causes blurred vision. In severe forms of diabetic retinopathy, called proliferative diabetic retinopathy, new blood vessels form on the surface of the retina. These vessels are extremely fragile, and can leak blood into the vitreous cavity of the eye, which can lead to eventual blindness.
Most diabetic patients with retinopathy are asymptomatic. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy and its complications may include:
- Blurred, double, or distorted vision or difficulty reading.
- Floaters or spots in your vision
- Partial or total loss of vision or a shadow or veil across your field of vision
Risk Factors and Treatment:
If you have diabetes, make sure you control your blood sugar level, as this will reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy. All diabetics should have yearly dilated eye exams to rule out diabetic retinopathy. If you, or a family member, are diabetic we encourage you to schedule a yearly eye exam. Some forms of diabetic retinopathy warrant surgical treatment.
Dry Eye Syndrome
If your eyes are constantly itchy 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 layer of the eye called the cornea. 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 itchiness, irritation, burning, excessive tearing, redness, blurred vision that improves with blinking, and discomfort after long periods of watching television, 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 abnormally dry 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 very common eye disorder affecting millions of Americans. It is caused by too much pressure on the inside of the eye. The fluid in your eyes helps to nourish and cleanse the inside of your eyes by constantly flowing in and out. When the fluid is prevented from flowing out, the intraocular pressure builds and damages the optic nerve. This causes a gradual loss in peripheral vision.
Those suffering from open-angle glaucoma experience a type of tunnel vision, where their field of vision gradually decreases. It can eventually lead to blindness. Narrow-angle glaucoma, which is rare, carries symptoms of sharp pain in the eyes, blurred vision, dilated pupils, and even nausea or vomiting. It can cause blindness in a matter of days, and it requires immediate medical attention.
Heredity seems to be a risk factor. Also, you may be at greater risk if you are over 45, of African descent, 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.
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 is directly in front of us. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula begins to deteriorate.
“Wet” vs. “Dry”:
Most often, macular degeneration is accompanied by formation of yellow deposits, called “drusen,” under the macula, which dry out or thin the macula. This is called “dry” macular degeneration. In rare cases, abnormal blood vessels develop under the macula and leak fluid. This is called “wet” macular degeneration.
A number of 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 to detect dry macular degeneration in its early stages. The most common symptoms, when detected, include a spot of blurry vision, dark vision, or distorted vision. Wet macular degeneration progresses much faster than the dry variety. Both forms of macular degeneration can cause blindness.
Currently, there is no cure for macular degeneration, but treatment is available to slow the effects.
The part of the eye which collects light and transmits the light messages 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 that can cause permanent damage and vision loss if not treated quickly.
A retinal detachment often causes sudden defects in your vision. It may just cause a blind spot too small to notice, or it may cause a noticeable shadow that obscures your vision. An increase in “floaters,” which look like small particles or fine threads, may also be noticed. Finally, flashes of light are associated with retinal detachment.
Eye injuries, tumors, and cataract surgery can cause retinal detachment. 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 can lead to retinal detachment.