Safeguard Your Vision By Undergoing Regular Eye Exams
Untreated eye diseases can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness. Unfortunately, many eye diseases do not exhibit symptoms until they have already progressed to their later stages. This means that by the time you notice changes in your vision, you may have already suffered permanent vision loss.
Regular eye exams allow your optometrist to identify and track changes in your eye health and vision, allowing them to detect and treat eye diseases early on.
Your vision is priceless; do not put it at risk. Book your next comprehensive eye exam today.
Common Eye Diseases
Some eye diseases occur more frequently than others. These include:
Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process, and occur when our lenses become cloudy and opaque. Though many of us will develop cataracts as we age, factors such as diabetes, smoking, UV exposure, and excessive alcohol consumption increase your chances of developing cataracts at a younger age.
In their early stages, your optometrist may be able to suggest workarounds to maximize your vision, but as cataracts grow, your vision will become more obscured. The only treatment for cataracts is surgery.
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States and is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. During the surgery, your surgeon will make a small incision and then remove your clouded lens and replace it with a clear, artificial lens.
Eye Rx is partnered with a network of skilled surgeons in the Metropolitan D.C. area and can provide you with a referral.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of vision loss in patients over the age of 50. AMD develops when the macula (the portion of your retina that handles color perception and detailed vision) begins to degenerate. As AMD progresses, you will start to develop blind spots in the center of your vision.
AMD comes in two forms:
- Dry AMD is the most common form and is typically less serious than wet AMD. Dry AMD occurs when lipid deposits, called drusen, slowly accumulate under your macula. This accumulation damages the light-sensitive cells in your macula, potentially causing permanent vision loss or even blindness. There is no cure for Dry AMD, but studies suggest that progression can be slowed by consuming nutrients and antioxidants including vitamin C. vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc.
- Wet AMD is much rarer than Dry AMD, and progresses more quickly. Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow underneath your macula. These new blood vessels are weak, and typically leak blood and other fluids, causing permanent damage to the light-sensitive macula cells. There is no cure for Wet AMD, but its progression can be halted using intraocular injections.
Though there is currently no cure for either form of AMD early detection means that your optometrist may be able to slow the progression of the condition and preserve your vision.
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as “pink eye”, occurs when the conjunctiva (the thin, transparent film that covers the white of your eye) becomes inflamed and irritated. This inflammation causes your blood vessels to dilate, giving your eyes the red and bloodshot look that gave pink eye its name.
Conjunctivitis has three main forms:
- Allergic conjunctivitis: This form of conjunctivitis is triggered by allergens such as dust, pollen, and animal dander and is not contagious. Symptoms can be managed using antihistamines.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis: Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection and is highly contagious. This form of conjunctivitis will need to be treated by your optometrist.
- Viral conjunctivitis: This form of conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, and like the common cold, it does not require treatment. However, it is still highly contagious, so you should avoid close contact with others and follow your optometrist’s instructions carefully.
Glaucoma occurs when your optic nerve becomes damaged, typically as a result of high pressure inside your eye. However, glaucoma can occur even if your intraocular pressure is within normal range; a condition called normal tension glaucoma. Glaucoma is most commonly found in patients over the age of 60, and African-Americans and Hispanic Americans are more likely to develop this serious condition than other groups.
Your body relies on your optic nerve to transmit visual information from your eyes to your brain, so glaucoma can compromise your vision and even cause blindness if it is left untreated.
Glaucoma does not typically exhibit symptoms until you have already begun to experience permanent peripheral vision loss. That means many individuals with glaucoma may not even be aware they have the condition. Glaucoma is treatable, but early detection is vital. Glaucoma can be controlled using medicated eye drops, and there are laser and surgical options that can alleviate eye pressure.
Eye floaters occur when tiny pieces of protein called collagen float around in the vitreous, the clear, gel-like fluid inside your eye. Floaters are typically harmless and become more frequent as we age. This is because the vitreous becomes less gel-like and more fluid, allowing floaters to move around more freely and making them more noticeable.
However, a shower of floaters or sudden bright flashes of light are cause for concern as they may indicate that your retina has become torn or detached. Retinal detachment is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention to avoid vision loss.
For more information about eye diseases, including how we diagnose and manage them, please speak to your optometrist during your next appointment. You can schedule an appointment by contacting our Chevy Chase office at (301) 841-6776 or our Washington D.C. office at (202) 659-2010 or filling out our contact form.
We also welcome walk-in patients.