Impaired vision can be caused by age-related eye diseases, refractive error, or head injuries. Patients who suffer from eye diseases may have difficulty performing everyday tasks such as reading, writing, shopping, and cooking. Most eye diseases can be detected with yearly eye exams that include a visual acuity test, pupil dilation, measurement of intraocular pressure (IOP), and evaluation of the visual field (peripheral vision). If you think you may be suffering from an eye disease, it is important to visit an ophthalmology center for an eye exam. An experienced ophthalmologist can diagnose your condition and recommend the proper course of treatment. Learn more about some of the common eye diseases that affect patients.
A cataract is defined as a clouding of the lens of the eye, resulting in blurry vision. A cataract forms when protein in the lens begins to clump together and cloud a small area of the eye. Over time, this cloud will continue to grow and interfere with vision. Cataract treatment involves surgery to remove the natural, clouded lens of the eye and replace it with a clear, artificial one. There are several variations in both the removal and the replacement portions of the surgery. The technique used depends on both the patient and the ophthalmologist.
One of the leading causes of blindness, glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. This damage results from an elevation in intraocular pressure (IOP). Elevated IOP occurs when the clear fluid that nourishes the tissues of the eye does not drain properly, causing fluid buildup and subsequent pressure. Over time, elevated IOP will damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss. There are also rare instances when glaucoma can occur without elevated IOP. Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be treated in one of two ways: medication or surgery. Both of these glaucoma treatments are aimed at lowering intraocular pressure. In the United States ophthalmology field, glaucoma medications are considered to be the first-line treatment for the disease. If this fails, your ophthalmologist will then consider performing glaucoma surgery to reduce intraocular pressure.
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration, is an eye disease that slowly destroys central vision and, if left untreated, can lead to blindness. Vision loss from macular degeneration occurs when the macula - a tiny area of the retina - becomes damaged. Although there is no known cure for dry macular degeneration, there is a treatment for the wet form of the disease. If diagnosed early, wet AMD can be treated by an ophthalmologist with laser therapy or photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT cannot reverse damage already done, but it can stop blood vessel growth.
Diabetic retinopathy is a degenerative eye disease that occurs in people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy manifests itself gradually and occurs as a result of damage to the retina. If left untreated, this eye disease can lead to severe vision loss and/or blindness. Diabetic retinopathy does not always require treatment, but when it does, treatment is aimed at preventing further vision loss and improving impaired vision. There are two types of treatment utilized at ophthalmology centers for diabetic retinopathy: laser photocoagulation and vitrectomy.
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