If left untreated eye diseases can lead to permanent vision loss and even blindness. Regular, comprehensive eye exams are crucial to detecting eye diseases early and allow your optometrist to begin treatment as soon as possible.
Most eye diseases do not exhibit symptoms in their early stages, which makes them particularly dangerous. You may not even know something is wrong until you have already suffered significant and irreversible vision loss.
The only way to detect eye diseases is by having comprehensive eye exams. Regular eye exams allow your optometrist to identify and track subtle changes in your eye health and vision that may be indicators of eye problems. Once your optometrist has detected an eye disease, they can begin treatment right away, minimizing and even preventing permanent vision loss.
Your vision is one of your most valuable assets. Don’t put it at risk.
Most spots and floaters are normal and are caused by bits of protein and other tissue moving in the clear, gel-like material (vitreous) that fills the inside of our eyes. As we age, the vitreous becomes more fluid, allowing floaters to move around more easily and making them more noticeable.
However, some floaters may indicate that something is wrong, especially if they are accompanied by flashes of lights. If you suddenly experience a new onset of floaters, or flashes of light followed by a shower of floaters, it may indicate a retinal tear or detachment. Retinal detachment is a serious condition and requires immediate treatment to prevent permanent vision loss or blindness.
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as “pink eye,” occurs when the thin, transparent layer (called the conjunctiva) that covers the white of our eye becomes irritated and inflamed. The inflammation causes the delicate blood vessels in our eyes to dilate and become bloodshot, giving “pink eye” its name.
There are three main forms of conjunctivitis:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) occurs when the macula, the part of our retina responsible for detailed vision and color perception, degenerates over time. As AMD progresses, your central vision may slowly be lost.
AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over 50 in the United States, and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention AMD will affect nearly 88 million Americans by 2050.
There are two forms of AMD: dry and wet.
Early-stage AMD, both wet and dry, can be detected during a comprehensive eye exam.
Cataracts occur when the proteins in our crystalline lenses become opaque over time, clouding our vision. Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process and something that most Americans will experience. Cataract symptoms include:
Though most of us will develop cataracts at some point during our golden years, factors such as UV exposure, smoking, and alcohol consumption may increase your risk of developing cataracts at an earlier age.
Treatment options for cataracts depend on their severity. If your cataracts cause minimal visual disruption, then your optometrist may suggest workarounds such as using magnifying aids when reading small print, wearing eyeglasses treated with an anti-glare coating, or using more light while reading. These and other minor changes can reduce the impact cataracts have on your daily life.
However, if your cataracts begin to severely impair your vision or interfere with your day to day activities, you may require cataract surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing your cloudy natural lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens.
Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when our optic nerve becomes progressively damaged, resulting in the loss of peripheral vision. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eyes to the brain. Though glaucoma is typically caused by high intraocular pressure, it can occur even if your eye’s intraocular pressure is within the normal range.
Glaucoma does not exhibit symptoms during its early stages, which makes it a particularly dangerous eye disease. There is no way to know that you have glaucoma without an eye exam. By the time you begin to experience symptoms, you may have already suffered irreversible vision loss.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States, and can only be detected through a comprehensive eye exam.
There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing glaucoma. These include:
Glaucoma is treatable, but early detection is critical, which is why every comprehensive eye exam includes glaucoma testing. To help us detect glaucoma, Style Optique uses applanation tonometry. This glaucoma test uses a tiny, flat tipped cone to gently apply pressure to your cornea and measure the amount of resistance. The amount of resistance indicates your intraocular pressure.
Americans spend a lot of time on our computers, smartphones, and tablets, and it has lead to an increase in digital eye strain. According to a 2015 survey conducted by The Vision Council 59% of all American adults report experiencing at least some symptoms of digital eye strain.
Symptoms of digital eye strain include:
To avoid digital eye strain, you should take frequent breaks from your digital devices. A short walk around your home or the office can help prevent neck, shoulder, and back pain. You should also be following the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes you should take a 20 second break and shift your gaze away from your screen to an object that is at least 20 feet away from you. Because digital eye strain is partially caused by prolonged near focus, looking at something far away gives our eye muscles a chance to relax.
You may also want to consider investing in a pair of computer glasses. These glasses are available in most prescriptions and are treated with a special coating to filter out harmful blue light. This, in turn, reduces glare and protects our eyes. You should also position your monitor slightly down from your line of sight, an arms length away, and adjust your lighting to reduce glare.