Your eye has a clear lens through which the image passes allowing you to see. When this lens becomes cloudy it is called a cataract.
Cataracts cause progressive painless loss of vision. The lens clouds naturally with age so that, in general, people over the age of 65 usually a gradual reduction in their vision. In younger people, cataracts can come from injury, certain medications or illnesses such as diabetes. Ultraviolet light may play a role in cataract formation. Smoking cigarettes has also been linked to cataract formation.
If vision drops to a level that interferes with your ability to read, work, or do your normal activities, then cataract surgery should be considered. Surgery is the only effective way to deal with cataracts. The procedure is generally painless. It is one of the most frequently performed procedures. Cataract surgery also has a very high success rate.
Treatments and Additional Information
Cataracts can cause:
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. That is the Optic nerve carries the images from the eye to the brain. There is a high prevalance of Glaucoma in the African American and Latino population. It is the leading cause of blindness for African-Americans. Glaucoma has been called the “Sneak Thief of Sight” because; in its most common form it has no symptoms; no blurred vision, no pain, no redness or swelling. People with glaucoma can go a long time with the disease and not know that anything is wrong until it is very late in the disease process.
Elevated pressure in the eye is the hallmark of glaucoma. There is fluid that is made in the eye that builds up because it can not get out through the internal drainage channels of the eye. Therefore, the pressure becomes elevated. This pressure slowly causes the death of nerve cells in the optic nerve, leading to loss of vision. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in the prevention of visual loss due to glaucoma.
There are different categories of glaucoma:
- Open Angle – This is the most common form of glaucoma which does damage slowly and silently.
- Narrow Angle – This can also be a silent type of glaucoma or it can present as an acute closed angle attack which is characterized by blurred vision, pain, redness, and headache and even vomiting.
- Secondary Glaucoma – This can develop following an eye injury, from disease and even from some medications such as Prednisone.
- Congenital Glaucoma – This occurs when there is high pressure in the eye even at birth, causing visual loss.
The treatment of glaucoma involves drop therapy, laser (SLT, LPI, ECP, YAG CP), and filtering surgery.
Treatments and Additional Information
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when an organ called the pancreas does not secret enough insulin. Insulin is the hormone that regulated the blood sugar (Glucose) level. Diabetes most commonly occurs in adults, although it can affect children as well.
Both cataracts and glaucoma are associated with diabetes. The main area to be affected in the eye is the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy. It most commonly occurs in individuals who have had diabetes for more than 20 years.
Over time, diabetes affects the circulatory system of the retina. There are two major stages of DR. The earliest stage is called background diabetic retinopathy. In this stage the small blood vessels of the retina become weak and they have a tendency to bleed and to leak fluid as well as fat (lipid) out of the bloodstream and into the retina. This can cause blurred vision.
The next stage is known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In this stage abnormal, fragile blood vessels grow erratically from the retina. This is called neovascularization. These very fragile vessels hemorrhage easily. Blood can leak into the retina and the vitreous. If it leaks into the vitreous it can cause spots or floaters as well as blurred vision.
In the later stages of the disease, continued growth of these abnormal vessels and cause tugging on the retina and scarring. This may lead to serious problems like retinal detachment and glaucoma.
Some of the sign and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are
- Blurred vision
- Floaters and spots
- Sudden loss of vision
Diabetic patients require routine examination of the eye to detect any diabetic eye changes. The earlier diabetic retinopathy is caught, the better the prognosis. Diabetic retinopathy is monitored by testing such as flourescein angiography, retinal photography and ocular tomography.
The methods of treatment for diabetic eye disease include laser surgery and vitrectomy (blood is removed along with the vitreous gel of the eye). If retinal detachment occurs, that is repaired surgically.
There are 4 mainstays of prevention for diabetic eye disease:
- Good control of the blood glucose (sugar) levels
- Good control of blood pressure
- Good control of cholesterol levels
- Management of any kidney disease.