Flashes & Floaters
Floaters are transparent gray specks that some people may see in their line of sight. While they appear to be spots floating in front of us, they are in fact inside of the eyes. As one age, the gel-liked structure called the vitreous can begin to liquify over time. These spots usually occur when undissolved pieces of the vitreous start to float around in a liquified vitreous, casting a shadow on the retina as light passes through the eye. They shadows are what you see as floaters. They are more pronounced when you stare at a blank or uniform background, such as a computer screen or a clear blue sky while you are driving. They also tend to move with your eye making it seem like you cannot look at them directly.
Some people may observe photopsia, or flashes of light, in the absence of an actual light stimulus, or light scintillation. It can appear like an arc of lights in the periphery, a constant on and off flashing of a light bulb, or light. This occurs when the vitreous pulls on the retina.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases in which the pressure in the eye is higher than that particular eye can tolerate. A higher than normal pressure causes damage to the very sensitive optic nerve at the retina. Loss of sight may occur gradually or in rare cases, suddenly if glaucoma is not controlled.
In a rare form of glaucoma, acute glaucoma, there is severe pain, headache and nausea. In the more common chronic form, symptoms are rare and loss of sight occurs so gradually that the patient is not aware of any changes.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 40. Half the people who have glaucoma don’t know it because it usually destroys eyesight without any symptoms of pain. Glaucoma occurs when the body produces too much fluid (aqueous humor) inside the eye or when normal drainage of the fluid does not filter out of the eye adequately.
Early diagnosis and treatment is imperative. If glaucoma is discovered early, treatment usually keeps it from getting worse. Regular eye exams are necessary to measure intra-ocular eye pressure, to evaluate the integrity of the optic nerve and to study a patient’s peripheral field of vision. It is advised that persons having a family history of glaucoma or other factors indicating predisposition to this disease should be especially cautious.
Hyperopia is the medical term for farsightedness. When an eye is hyperopic, it does not have enough focusing power available for clear, comfortable vision. This can be caused by an eye that is too short from the cornea in the front to the retina in the back, or by a cornea which lacks an adequate curvature to achieve a clear image on the retina. A person with farsightedness may see fairly clear at distance; however, they will typically see uncomfortably. Depending on the age of a person, farsighted eyes have increasing difficulty seeing clearly at close-range.
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the central vision area of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for our fine central detailed vision. Although the exact cause of AMD is not known, it is thought to be an accelerated by the aging process. The risk of developing macular degeneration increases with age, family history, vascular status, active smokers, and lifetime sun exposure.
There are two forms of age related macular degeneration, a “wet” type, and a “dry” type. The “dry” type has a better prognosis. On average, this condition is slowly progressive and functional vision is maintained. Although there is no cure for dry macular degeneration, treatment is available. Nutritional supplements, protection from ultraviolet radiation, special medications, and laser treatment are all considerations depending on the degree of advancement of the condition. Careful monitoring is imperative to track possible advancement.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the central vision area of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for our fine or detailed vision. Although the exact cause of AMD is not known, it is thought to be an accelerated aging process. The risk of developing macular degeneration increases with age, family history, vascular issues, smoking, and lifetime exposure to UV from the sun.
There are two forms of age related macular degeneration, a “wet” type and a “dry” type. In the wet type, abnormal blood vessels grow in the macular region causing leakage, bleeding, and scarring. Although there is no cure for wet macular degeneration, new treatments have proven to be effective for some in slowing, or stopping, the progression of the disease.
Therapeutic injections, nutritional supplements, protection from ultraviolet radiation, special medications, and laser treatments are all considerations depending on the degree of advancement of the condition. This condition must be closely monitored for possible advancement.
Myopia is the medical term for nearsightedness. It is the most common vision disorder in the world. People with myopia do not focus clearly on objects in the distance. This is caused by too much focusing power of the eye. Excess power may be related to an eye which is too long, from the cornea in the front to the retina in the back, or where there is too-great a curvature of the light-bending cornea.
With this condition, close-range objects are generally in focus, thus the term NEAR-sightedness. It is most commonly corrected by either eyeglasses or contact lenses; however, myopia is also the most successful vision disorder corrected by refractive surgery.
Presbyopia is the natural gradual loss of the eye’s ability to focus at close-range as we age. This process first becomes noticeable around the age of 40 and in all people, progresses steadily with time. With presbyopia, the natural lens of the eye becomes less flexible. As the lens becomes more rigid, it prevents this part of the eye from changing its shape adequately to focus on close-range objects.
The primary goal of most refractive surgery procedures is to compensate for or neutralize distance refractive errors. Presbyopic patients that undergo refractive surgery generally still require some form of spectacle correction to achieve optimum close-rage function.
Retinal detachment is a serious problem, and with no treatment, vision is almost always lost. Although anyone can have a retinal detachment, they tend to occur more frequently in patients who have a high degree of nearsightedness, who have had trauma to the eye, and/or, have a family history of retinal detachment. Also, patients who have had cataract surgery, or retinal laser treatments, are more prone to develop a retinal detachment.
Most retinal detachments require immediate laser, or surgical repair. In most cases, there is high likelihood of successfully reattaching the retina. The return of good vision depends on how quickly the repair is performed, its location, specifically whether or not the macula, or area of central vision was detached prior to surgery.