A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside your eye. This lens, located behind the iris (or colored part of your eye) works just like the lens of a camera...focusing light images on the retina, which sends the images to your brain. This human lens, made mostly of protein and water, can become clouded; so clouded it keeps light and images from reaching the retina. Eye injury, certain diseases, or even some medications can cause the clouding. But, in over 90% of cases, clouding is caused by the aging process.
A cataract is not a “film” over the eye, and neither diet nor lasers will make it go away. It can be the reason sharp images become blurred, bright colors become dull, or seeing at night is more difficult. It may also be why the reading glasses or bifocals that are used to help you read, or do other tasks, no longer seem to help. Cataracts can’t be prevented, but can be removed through surgery. Top
Glaucoma is sometimes referred to as a “silent” disease. It’s a serious eye condition that can lead to blindness if not treated. While there is no cure, there are effective treatments that can save your sight. Glaucoma causes damage to inner parts of the eye (the optic disc) and ultimately, loss of vision. The amount of vision loss will depend on the severity and how long the condition is present.
The primary factor in the development of this particular disease is intraocular pressure (IOP). There is gel-like fluid inside the eye called aqueous humor, a fluid which helps shape and keep the eye healthy. It also causes a small amount of pressure inside the eye. When this pressure gets too high it is called ocular hypertension (OH). A person may have OH and not have any loss of vision. However, over time this high pressure can begin to damage sensitive parts of the eye, and may even lead to vision loss. The point at which damage begins represents the onset of Glaucoma. Top
A deterioration or breakdown of the macula — the small area in the retina at the back of the eye that enables you to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading and driving. When the macula does not function correctly, your central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas or distortion. Macular degeneration affects your ability to see near and far, and can make some activities, like threading a needle or reading, difficult if not impossible. Top
Floaters And Flashes
You may sometimes see small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision. These are called floaters. You can often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall or blue sky. Floaters are actually tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear gel-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. While these objects look like they are in front of your eye, they are actually floating inside it. What you see are the shadows they cast on the retina, the layer of cells lining the back of the eye that senses light and enables you to see. Floaters may appear as different shapes such as little dots, circles, lines, clouds or cobwebs.
Flashing lights or lightning streaks are caused when the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina. You may have experienced this same sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and seen “stars.” Flashes of light can appear off and on for several weeks or months. As we grow older, it’s more common to experience flashes.
Of much more serious concern, both floaters and flashes could possibly be the result of a torn retina. If the shrinking vitreous gel pulls away from the wall of the eye, the retina can tear. A torn retina is always a serious problem, since it can lead to retinal detachment.
Contact Dr. Williams as soon as possible if even one new floater appears suddenly, or, you see sudden flashes of light.
The only treatment for a detached retina is surgery. Top
Diabetes And Your Eyes
Diabetes can cause problems with the retina in your eyes. Small blood vessels can develop and can also leak. These leaks or hemorrhages can cause permanent damage to the retina and cause vision loss. This can develop in patients who have controlled or uncontrolled diabetes.
Diabetes is the number one cause of untreated blindness in the United States. Therefore, it is very important for patients diagnosed with diabetes to have yearly eye exams. Top
Your eyes are a delicately balanced eco-system in which tears play a large and important role. Every time you blink, tears form a coating that protects and nourishes your eyes’ surfaces. When tear production is reduced, your eyes feel dry. Ironically, the tear producing glands sometimes react to the dry scratchy feeling by watering more than ever. But these “reflex tears” do not relieve the dryness because they lack a natural component that is essential to lubricate the cornea properly.
If your eyes feel dry, scratchy, sore, watery, tired, or burn, it’s possible you have Dry Eye. The typical causes include:
- The aging process
- Wearing contact lenses
- Certain medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, pain relievers; sometimes alcohol may also have this effect
- For women, menopause and pregnancy
- Computer use, long term reading or other activities requiring concentration
- Poor blink response
If you experience headaches or eyestrain or feel as if you are squinting to see things at a distance, you may have Myopia or nearsightedness. The myopic eye is longer than normal. Incoming light focuses in front of, instead of directly on the retina. This causes objects far away to be blurry, while objects up close appear clear.
Myopia can be corrected with prescription glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. Depending upon your vision problem, you may or may not have to wear corrective lenses at all times. If you continue to have headaches or eye strain while wearing your glasses or contacts, you may need a new prescription. Top
The symptoms of hyperopia, or farsightedness, are similar in comparison to myopia. The hyperopic eye is shorter than normal. Those who are hyperopic have difficulty seeing objects up close. Hyperopia is caused when light enters the eye and focuses behind the retina.
Hyperopia can be treated the same as myopia, with corrective lenses, or refractive surgery. As with myopia, your corrective lenses may or may not need to be worn at all times. Top
Astigmatism is cause by an irregular shaped cornea or sometimes an irregular shaped lens. It occurs when the cornea is shaped like an oblong football rather than a round baseball. It is often accompanied by nearsightedness, or farsightedness. Astigmatism causes light to focus on two points in the back of the eye instead of one. It can cause headaches and eye strain. Astigmatism can blur your vision at both near and far. It can usually be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Top
When many people reach middle age they experience blurred vision when viewing at close range. As a result, they often hold books, magazines or newspapers at arm’s length in order to focus, and may experience headaches or eye strain when performing up close tasks.
Presbyopia is therefore directly caused by the aging process. It is not related to the shape of the eye or by genetic factors. It is believed to be caused from the loss of flexibility in the lens of the eye. When the eye has less flexibility it becomes difficult to focus up close. Eye glasses are prescribed with a bifocal lens to correct Presbyopia. The bifocal gives you two points of focus. The top portion of the glasses contains the correction for nearsightedness or farsightedness, while the lower portion holds the stronger near vision correction for close work. Reading glasses also are an option. They can be worn while only doing close work. Advanced multifocal contact lenses also are options for correcting near vision in many patients. Top