Patient Education for Your Eyes

Glaucoma

I am really worried that I may get glaucoma. Can I prevent it?

No one can prevent it. You can, with proper treatment, slow it down. If you have ever read our blog articles, you know that we have harped on ‘Annual Eye Exams’. Trust us – no huge profit there. What a regularly scheduled eye exam does is help us spot eye conditions and eye diseases.

Keep in mind that there are so many people that have glaucoma and do not even know it. This is an eye disease that cannot be reversed – when the damage is done, it is done. Our docs cannot give you back your vision. Your best protection is to get regular eye exams, every couple of years if you are over 40 or on a schedule recommended by your doctor.

I may have glaucoma. What are my options?

If one of our optometrists spots glaucoma, it can often be controlled with medications. Treatments come in either drop or pill form. In the event that medications do not work, surgery may be an option.

Will I go blind if I get glaucoma?

If it is discovered that you have glaucoma, there will be a regiment of medication that will be prescribed. When you take your meds, combined with appointments to your eye care professional, the odds are that you will not lose your vision.

Taking your drops as prescribed each day will help to ensure that you keep your vision!!

Is glaucoma hereditary?

While it is not necessarily hereditary, EVERYONE is at risk.Not necessarily, but it does increase your risk. Other factors that may increase your risk are:

  • Being over 50;
  • Being over 40 and African-American;
  • Having a family history of glaucoma;
  • Having a history of serious eye injury;
  • Taking steroid medications;
  • Having diabetes;
  • Being nearsighted;
  • Having high blood pressure.

People with these risk factors should have their eyes examined on a regular basis to look for the disease.

If I have glaucoma, can I use marijuana to treat it?

There have been studies that show the ‘Left-Handed Cigarette’ can lower pressure in the eye, while other studies show no release in pressure. The NEI (National Eye Institute) says that after looking at old ‘Mary Jane’ for years, there is no proof that says it has any more benefits than the prescriptions available.

There is the ongoing debate as far as the legality of use. Check your local and state laws before using for glaucoma purposes.

My mom has glaucoma and still wants to drive. Should she be?

It all depends on a few things.

  1. How much vision is lost?
  2. Can she pass the DMV vision test?

Speak with her doctor if you notice issues in her driving.

LASIK

How much should I expect to pay?

LASIK generally costs between $1,000 and $6,000. The reason for the large gap involves a few different factors.

First off, location, location, location. Some areas around the country are more expensive than others. Also, it depends on the procedure being performed.

Secondly, if the doctor who is going to do you LASIK asks you to come to his garage or apartment, you may want to avoid him like the plague. But seriously, avoid places & practices who offer budget LASIK. You would not trust your car to someone for a new engine who says they would do it for fifty bucks, right? These are your eyes we are talking about.

How young is too young to have LASIK?

Technically, LASIK is safe for teens. With that said, we do not recommended for teenagers. Teenagers have not stopped growing. Their eyes are still developing and more than likely, her prescription will change. We say between 21 and 25 is the starting age for LASIK.

How soon can I get back to exercise?

LASIK surgery has been around for a while and has really come a long way. It is very safe, even for those such as yourself with a very active lifestyle.

What effects does LASIK have on Dry Eye Syndrome?

Got some bad news for you: Having LASIK could potentially make your dry eye problem worse. Having LASIK when your eyes are completely healthy still leaves your eyes dry and can last from a few weeks to a few months. Come in and talk with one of our doctors here to be evaluated for 1, your dry eyes and 2, your LASIK options.

How long does the surgery last & will I put under for my LASIK?

The whole procedure, from beginning to end, on average, takes about 30, maybe 45 minutes. However, you do not go ‘under’ or go ‘out’. You get a mild sedative, such as a valium, and are completely relaxed. Numbing drops are placed in your eyes and the only thing you feel is pressure – no pain.

Will I be able to wear my glasses or contacts after surgery?

You should not need your glasses post LASIK.

Contact Lenses

Are they hard to get used to?

Keep in mind that you have worn glasses since the time your vision worsened. Glasses rest on the bridge of your nose. Contacts are small, pliable, plastic disks the rest on your eyeball. It does take some getting used to, for sure. It could take a day, a few days or possibly a week or two.

What kind of care is needed for contacts?

There is good news and/or bad news depending on the type of contacts you are fitted for.

If your eyes are fine and have no special needs, you get to wear soft contacts. Your choices for these are a plenty. You can do:

  • Daily Disposable: These contacts are good for one day come in megapacks – 30 (one month supply) or 90 (three month supply) to a box. These are awesome because when you get home at night, you take them out and toss them right in the garbage!
  • Bi-Weekly Disposable: These contacts are good for two weeks. They are to be taken out at night & cleaned and stored.
  • Monthly Disposable: Good for 30 days, these also need to be taken out at night.
  • Monthly Lens: You can wear these for 30 days straight without taking them out. We do not necessarily recommend this.
My friend told me his contact got stuck ‘behind’ his eye. Can this really happen?

Wow. Behind his eye? Really? Well, just know that this is not possible. Sometimes, when they get dry, they can get out of place. It does not happen very often. Once you put in some drops & blink some, the lens will find it’s way home.

Macular Degeneration

What is the macula?

The macula is the part of the retina responsible for straight-ahead central vision. The macula is used for reading, recognizing faces, and watching television. Any disease that affects the macula, such as age-related macular degeneration, will cause a change and impairment in the central vision.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration (also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD) is a condition in which the eye’s macula breaks down, causing a gradual or sudden loss of central vision.

Is macular degeneration always caused by age?

Macular degeneration usually affects people over age 65, which is why the term age-related macular degeneration (AMD) often is used to describe the condition. However, certain drugs can cause macular degeneration, and some cases are inherited, such as Stargardt’s disease, which can affect children and young adults.

Is it true that macular degeneration is a growing problem?

Absolutely it is. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Ultraviolet Light;
  • People Living Longer;
  • Environmental Pollutants;
  • Smoking;
  • Poor Diet;
  • Obesity.

Another factor may be our aging population, since the risk for macular degeneration rises with age.

Although there are no sure ways to prevent macular degeneration, you should wear eyeglasses or sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection and a brimmed hat when outdoors. You should also consider exercising, not smoking, eating a healthy diet that is high in dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens, etc.) and visiting your eye care practitioner on a regular basis for eye exams to check for AMD.

What is “Dry” Macular Degeneration?

The dry type of macular degeneration is the most common form of this condition (90%). It is also the most insidious, for there is no form of treatment that is known to stop its progression, although vitamin supplements are often prescribed. In this slow developing type of macular degeneration, the delicate tissues of the macula becomes thin, typically due to aging, and ceases to function properly. There may be a slight dimming in the center of the field of vision with this form of macular degeneration depending on its progression. This form of macular degeneration usually starts with the appearance of spots on the retina. These spots are called “drusen”. Once the retinal tissues are affected by the dry type of macular degeneration, there is little that can be done to stop its slow progression and nothing has been found effective to restore sight lost to its effects.

What is “Wet” Macular Degeneration?

Though this form of macular degeneration is less common (10%), it is typically more damaging. The wet type of macular degeneration is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the macula (beneath the retina). The abnormal blood vessels tend to hemorrhage or leak, with the result being the formation of scar tissue if left untreated. This in turn creates a large, permanent blind spot in the center of the field of vision. In some instances, the dry type of macular degeneration can turn into the wet type.

The wet form of macular degeneration can be somewhat controlled through laser treatments, provided they are performed at an early stage of the condition. The laser treatment seals the leaking blood vessels closed, halting the damage they can inflict upon the retina. These laser treatments are effective preventing or slowing the progress of wet type macular degeneration; however as with dry macular degeneration, no treatment has been discovered to restore sight lost to this condition.

If this form of macular degeneration is not treated, it tends to progress at a steady pace. As the condition progresses, it significantly reduces central sight.

Astigmatism

What is an Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is simply a component of vision error and is not a disease, thus it is not contagious. This is a vision condition that occurs when the front surface of your eye, the cornea, is slightly irregular in shape. This irregular shape prevents light from focusing properly on the back of your eye, the retina. As a result, your vision may be blurred at all distances. People with severe astigmatism will usually have blurred or distorted vision, while those with mild astigmatism may experience headaches, eye strain, fatigue or blurred vision at certain distances. Most people have some degree of astigmatism.

What Are the Symptoms of an Astigmatism?
  • Distortion or blurring of images at all distances
  • Headache and fatigue
  • Squinting and eye discomfort or irritation

The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have astigmatism. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your ophthalmologist for a complete exam.

Can Astigmatism be Treated?

Yes, astigmatism can oftentimes be corrected with glasses or special contact lenses. However, while nearsightedness or farsightedness can be corrected with simple spherical lenses, astigmatism requires a cylinder, which adds more curvature and focusing power in one axis than the other so that the patient’s images aren’t distorted.

With astigmatism, can I still wear contact lenses?

Yes. Astigmatism is no longer a barrier to wearing contact lenses. There are many contact lens brands for astigmatism offer people with astigmatism the same exceptional fit, comfort, and visual clarity that regular contact lens wearers enjoy.

Presbyopia

What is a Presbyopia?

Presbyopia in Greek means “old eye.” So when presbyopia starts to develop sometime around age 40, you’ll find that the natural lenses and surrounding parts of your eyes have grown too rigid to accommodate focus from far to near — and back again.

This inability to see sharp images at all distances is a natural though annoying part of aging.

How Do I Know if I Have Presbyopia?

Since this condition is age-related, you will experience presbyopia at some point in your life. You may have presbyopia now if you are over about age 40, and:

  • Find that print appears unclear at normal reading distances
  • The need to hold reading materials at arm’s length to focus properly
  • Experience eye strain or headaches when performing close-up tasks
What Are The Treatment Options for Presbyopia?

The most common treatment option for presbyopia is over-the counter reading glasses. Other options include eyeglasses with progressive lenses, bi-focals, tri-focals and contact lenses. A surgical treatment is also now available for treatment of presbyopia. The procedure, called Conductive Keratoplasty, uses gentle radio waves to reshape the cornea. Check with Dr. Malone to determine which option is right for you.

Cataracts

What is an Cataract?

A cataract is a cloudiness of the eye’s natural lens, which lies between the front and back areas of the eye.

What are the Symptoms of Cataracts?

Cataracts typically cause no symptoms until they have grown large enough to interfere significantly with the passage of light through the lens. Once symptoms of cataracts develop, they may include:

  • cloudy or blurry vision;
  • double vision (diplopia) ;
  • a sense that colors appear faded;
  • seeing halos around lights;
  • an increased sensitivity to glare; and
  • a distortion of vision that makes objects appear as if you’re looking at them through a veil.
How do Cataracts Develop?

Age-related cataracts develop in two ways.

  • Clumps of protein reduce the sharpness of the image reaching the retina.
  • The clear lens slowly changes to a yellowish/brownish color, adding a brownish tint to vision.

The lens consists mostly of water and protein. When the protein clumps up, it clouds the lens and reduces the light that reaches the retina. The clouding may become severe enough to cause blurred vision. Most age-related cataracts develop from protein clumpings. As the clear lens slowly colors with age, your vision gradually may acquire a brownish shade. At first, the amount of tinting may make it more difficult to read and perform other routine activities. This gradual change in the amount of tinting does not affect the sharpness of the image transmitted to the retina.

How are Cataracts Treated?

Surgery is the only way your ophthalmologist can remove a cataract. However, if symptoms are mild, a change of glasses may be all that is needed for you to function comfortably.

There are no medications, exercises, or optical devices that have been shown to prevent or cure cataracts.Protection from excessive sunlight could help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. Sunglasses that screen out ultraviolet light rays, or regular eyeglasses with an anti-ultraviolet coating can provide this protection.