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Eye Disease Management Blog

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Covid Patients Are 40% More Likely to Get Diabetes – What Does That Mean for Your Vision?

Covid-19 patients have a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes than people who haven’t had the virus. Diabetes-related diseases can cause severe vision loss, so anyone who has recovered from Covid should have regular comprehensive eye exams.

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5 Need-to-Know Facts About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness, but its symptoms usually aren’t noticeable until vision is already compromised. Here are 5 things you should know about this serious eye disease.

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Signs It’s Time For Cataract Surgery

Surgery is the only way to treat cataracts. Usually, it is better to have cataract surgery early so the patient can see clearly and resume the activities they enjoy.

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6 Glaucoma Myths Debunked

Myths and misinformation about glaucoma symptoms, treatments and detection can cause people to wait to see their eye doctor only once they’ve suffered vision loss. In this article, we debunk 6 common glaucoma myths.

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What’s a Multifocal Intraocular Lens?

During cataract surgery, your natural clouded lens is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL). Learn about multifocal intraocular lenses and how you can benefit from these lenses.

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What Causes Retinal Tears?

A torn retina is a serious problem that makes your vision blurry. If not treated early on, it can lead to retinal detachment, a sight-robbing eye disease. Learn what causes a retinal tear and find out what you can do about it.

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Diabetic Retinopathy

Are You Diabetic?

All diabetics are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which generally presents without warning signs or symptoms in its early stages. Fortunately, by having regular dilated eye exams, your eye doctor can diagnose and manage the condition to help you avoid vision loss.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy affects approximately 35% of diabetics worldwide. It occurs when the small blood vessels in the retina swell and leak as a result of high blood sugar levels. The new thin and fragile blood vessels that grow may bleed, causing scar tissue. Eventually, if left untreated, this leads to permanent vision loss, perhaps even blindness.

If you’re diabetic, controlling blood sugar levels and undergoing routine eye exams are crucial to preventing vision loss. Several risk factors associated with diabetic eye problems include:

  • Poor blood sugar control
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Excess weight/obesity
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Since diabetic retinopathy is typically painless and shows no symptoms until its advanced stages, many diabetics are unaware they have it.

It’s possible that as the condition worsens, it will cause:

  • Poor night vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Vision loss
  • An increased number of floaters
  • Colors to appear washed out or faded
  • Blank or dark areas in your field of vision

By getting annual eye evaluations, your eye doctor will be able to detect these signs early enough which can help lower your risk or minimize vision loss.

How Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Treated?

The treatment options listed below may help improve your vision.

  • Medication
  • Anti-VEGF or steroid injections
  • Laser surgery
  • Vitrectomy

How Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Prevented?

Below are a few ways you can preserve your vision.

  • Control blood sugar levels
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • Keep to a healthy diet and exercise regimen
  • Quit smoking, if applicable

To prevent and manage diabetic retinopathy, a multi-disciplinary approach involving your eye doctor and other medical professionals is needed. Your eye doctor will conduct a comprehensive eye exam to determine whether you have diabetic retinopathy, assess its seriousness, and explore prevention and treatment options.

Contact to schedule your dilated eye exam today, and learn more about what you can do to protect your vision and general health.

Our practice serves patients from Oswego, Naperville, Aurora, and Chicago, Illinois and surrounding communities.

 

FAQ

Is there a cure for diabetic retinopathy?

Early treatments can slow the progression of the disease and may even restore any lost vision. The more effective long-term strategy is to control the risk factors for diabetic retinopathy. Once retinal scarring occurs, vision loss is usually permanent.

Even though my diabetes is well-controlled, could I still develop diabetic retinopathy?

Yes. Despite maintaining control over blood sugar levels, patients who’ve had type 1 diabetes for over 20 years can still develop diabetic retinopathy. Other factors, such as inflammation and direct changes to the blood vessels, are also believed to cause this eye disease.

Are there different types of diabetic retinopathy?

Yes. There are two major types:

  • Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) – the early stages
  • Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR) – the advanced stages when any new fragile blood vessels appear

 

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Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

An estimated 11 million people in the United States have some form of macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in people over 60. This number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050.

The risk of suffering with AMD increases from 2% for ages 50-59, to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75.

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, with the advent of injections and lasers, can help you manage the condition and may even occasionally restore any loss of sight.

What is Macular Degeneration?

The macula is the central part of the retina. It’s a vitally important part of our eyes as it is responsible for central vision and much of our color vision and ability to see fine details. It allows us to read, recognize faces, drive a car, and so much more.

In fact, the light rays of whatever we are looking at are focused on the macula, be it a photograph of a grand-child, the TV, or your partner’s face.

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them back to the brain. When the macula is functioning properly, it collects highly detailed images at the center of our vision and sends neural signals through the optic nerve to the brain, which interprets them as sight. When the macula deteriorates, the brain does not receive these clear, bright images, and instead receives blurry or distorted images.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two main types of macular degeneration: “dry” and “wet.” Between 85% to 90% of people with macular degeneration have the dry (atrophic) form, but the dry form can eventually lead to the wet (exudative) form.

Another form of macular degeneration is Stargardt disease, which occurs in young people. It is caused by a recessive gene, affecting 1 in 10,000 people.

Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration

  • Dry (atropic) macular degeneration – this is caused when drusen (yellow deposits of proteins) accumulate under the retina causing retinal distortion. A few small drusen may not change your vision, but as they grow larger they may start to dim or distort vision, especially while reading. As AMD worsens, the light-sensitive cells in your macula further deteriorate and eventually die. With dry AMD, you may also notice blind spots in the center of your vision.
  • Wet (exudative) macular degenerationthis is when new and very fragile blood vessels are formed. These abnormal blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing vision to become distorted so that straight lines appear wavy. As the blood vessels continue to bleed, they form a scar, potentially leading to partial or full loss of central vision.

By getting regular check-ups, your eye doctor can diagnose AMD early on and manage the condition to prevent further vision loss.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

In the early stages of AMD, you might not have any noticeable symptoms. By the time significant symptoms manifest, irreversible damage may have already occurred.

Symptoms of macular degeneration may include:

  • Decreased or blurry vision
  • Dark or blind spots in the center of your vision
  • Lines appearing wavy
  • Different color perception

Stages of Macular Degeneration

There are three stages of age-related macular degeneration.

  • Early AMD – Medium-sized drusen deposits and no pigment changes. Most people have no loss of vision at this point
  • Intermediate AMD – Large drusen and/or pigment changes. There may cause mild vision loss, but most people don’t experience any problems with their daily tasks
  • Late AMD – Vision loss has become noticeable

What Eye Exams Can Help Detect AMD?

To check for macular degeneration, your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam that will include:

  • Dilated Eye Exam – During this exam, eye drops are used to dilate the pupil. This allows the doctor to easily see a magnified view of the macula, drusen or detect abnormal blood vessels.
  • Ophthalmoscopy – For this exam, your doctor will use a hand-held light to detect any damage or changes in the retina and macula.
  • Fluorescein Angiography – This uses a dye injected into the bloodstream and is used to detect any leaking blood vessels in the retina.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – This test allows eye doctors to see a cross section through the retina and examine the layers and blood vessels beneath the surface of the retina. This includes the macula, optic nerve, retina, and choroid. Images are seen in 3D and full colour.
  • Amsler Grid – An Amsler grid is used by a patient at home, and allows you to self-examine your vision to notice the sudden appearance of any blurry or blank spots in your field of vision. Any changes of vision can be reported immediately to your eye doctor. This should not replace your regular yearly eye exam.

Visiting your eye doctor regularly and having a comprehensive eye examination can help detect AMD in its early stages, when treatment is most effective. While there is currently no cure for AMD, treatment may slow the disease and keep you from having severe vision loss and may even be able to restore some loss of sight. Contact to find the best treatment plan and to discuss ways to manage your AMD.

Our practice serves patients from Oswego, Naperville, Aurora, and Chicago, Illinois and surrounding communities.
Learn More About Macular Degeneration
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Can Macular Degeneration Be Treated?

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Can Macular Degeneration Be Prevented?

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Glaucoma Testing & Treatment

Happy African American Girlfriends. Regular eye exams help detect glaucoma. When was your last eye exam?

Glaucoma Eye Exams

Glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable vision loss and blindness in older individuals in the United States and Canada and the second leading cause of blindness in the World, even more than macular degeneration.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is not a single disease. It is actually a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve due to an increase in pressure inside the eye, which is called intraocular pressure (IOP). When detected in the early stages, glaucoma can often be controlled, preventing severe vision loss and blindness. However, symptoms of noticeable vision loss often only occur once the disease has progressed. This is why glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight”. Unfortunately, once vision is lost from the disease, it usually can’t be restored.

Treatments include medication or surgery that can regulate the IOP and slow down the progression of the disease to prevent further vision loss. The type of treatment depends on the type and the cause of glaucoma.

Risk Factors

Prevention is possible only with early detection and treatment. Since symptoms are often absent, regular eye exams which include a glaucoma screening are essential, particularly for individuals at risk of the disease. While anyone can get glaucoma, the following traits put you at a higher risk:

  • Age over 60
  • Hispanic or Latino descent, Asian descent
  • African Americans over the age of 40 (glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans, 6-8 times more common than in Caucasians.)
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetics
  • People with severe nearsightedness
  • Certain medications (e.g. steroids)
  • Significant eye injury (even if it occurred in childhood)

Understanding Glaucoma

Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma: Due to a buildup of pressure in the eye, glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain. How does glaucoma affect your vision?

Types of Glaucoma: There are a number of types of glaucoma, some more acute than others. Learn about the common types of glaucoma and the differences between them.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Glaucoma: Early detection and treatment of glaucoma are essential to stopping or slowing the disease progression and saving vision. Treatment can include medicated eye drops, pills, laser procedures and minor surgical procedures depending on the type and stage of glaucoma.

Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma

The intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma can slowly damage the optic nerve, causing a gradual loss of vision. Vision loss begins with peripheral (side) vision, resulting in limited tunnel vision. Over time if left untreated, central vision will also be affected which will increase until it eventually causes total blindness. Unfortunately, any vision that is lost from the optic nerve damage cannot be restored.

What are the Symptoms?

Typically, glaucoma sets in without any symptoms. At the early onset of the most common type of glaucoma “open angle” glaucoma, vision remains normal and there is no pain or discomfort. This is why the disease is nicknamed the “sneak thief of sight”.

An acute type of glaucoma, called angle-closure glaucoma, can present sudden symptoms such as foggy, blurred vision, halos around lights, eye pain, headache and even nausea. This is a medical emergency and should be assessed immediately as the intraocular pressure can become extremely high and cause permanent damage within hours.

Types of Glaucoma

The primary forms of glaucoma are open-angle and narrow-angle, with open-angle being the most common type.

Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG)

POAG gradually progresses without pain or noticeable vision loss initially affecting peripheral vision. By the time visual symptoms appear, irreparable damage has usually occurred, however, the sooner treatment starts the more vision loss can be prevented. When untreated, vision loss will eventually result in total loss of side vision (or tunnel vision) and eventually total vision loss.

Normal-tension glaucoma or low-tension glaucoma

This is another form of open-angle glaucoma in which the intraocular pressure remains within the normal level. The cause of this form of glaucoma is not known, but it is believed to have something to do with insufficient blood flow to the optic nerve, causing damage. Individuals of Japanese descent, women and those with a history of vascular disease or low blood pressure are at higher risk.

Angle-closure glaucoma

Acute angle-closure glaucoma is marked by a sudden increase in eye pressure, which can cause severe pain, blurred vision, halos, nausea, and headaches. The pressure is caused by a blockage in the fluid at the front of the eye which is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately. Without prompt treatment to clear the blockage vision can be permanently lost.

Congenital glaucoma

The inherited form of the disease that is present at birth. In these cases, babies are born with a defect that slows the normal drainage of fluid out of the eye; they are usually diagnosed by the time they turn one. There are typically some noticeable symptoms such as excessive tearing, cloudiness or haziness of the eyes, large or protruding eyes or light sensitivity. Surgery is usually performed, with a very high success rate, to restore full vision.

Secondary glaucomas

Glaucoma can develop as a complication of eye surgeries, injuries or other medical conditions such as cataracts, tumors, or a condition called uveitis which causes inflammation. Uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes can result in another serious form called neovascular glaucoma.

Pigmentary glaucoma

A rare form of glaucoma, this occurs when pigment from the iris sheds and clogs the drainage of fluid from the eye resulting in inflammation and damage to the eye and drainage system.

Treatment of glaucoma is dependant upon the severity and type of glaucoma present.

Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatment

Detecting Glaucoma

During a routine comprehensive eye exam to check for glaucoma, your eye doctor will dilate your eye to examine the optic nerve for signs of glaucoma and will also measure the intraocular pressure (IOP) with an instrument called a tonometer.

IOP Measurement

Tonometry involves numbing the eye with drops and then gently pressing on the surface of the eye to measure the pressure. Since your IOP can fluctuate throughout the day and glaucoma can exist without elevated IOP this is not enough to rule out the disease. If there are signs of the disease, further testing will be performed.

Visual Field Test

A visual field test is designed to detect any blind spots in your peripheral or side field of vision. You will be asked to place your head in front of a machine while looking ahead and indicate when you see a signal in your peripheral field of view.

Retina Testing

Your doctor may also measure the thickness of the cornea with an ultrasonic wave instrument in a test called pachymetry or use imaging techniques such as digital retina scanning or optical coherence tomography (OCT) to create an image of your optic nerve to look for glaucoma damage.

Treating Glaucoma

Treatment for glaucoma depends on the type and severity of the disease and can include medication such as eye drops or pills or laser or traditional surgery.

Medication

Medication and drops to lower IOP are often the first resort for controlling pressure-related glaucoma. These drops may have some uncomfortable side effects, but compliance with the treatment plan is essential for preserving vision and halting the progression of the disease.

Surgery

Surgical procedures are designed to control the flow of fluids through the eye by either decreasing the amount of fluid produced or improving the drainage. Your doctor may decide that a combination of surgery and medication will be the most effective in many cases.

Prevention

It cannot be stressed enough that the most effective treatment for glaucoma happens when the disease is detected and treated early before significant vision loss occurs. Any vision that is lost cannot be restored. This is why the best prevention is awareness by knowing your risks and taking responsibility by having your eyes examined on a regular basis.

Cataract Surgery Co-Management

Over 50% of people aged 65 and older have a cataract in one or both eyes. As the cataract progresses, vision deteriorates, leading to a decreased quality of life.

Fortunately, cataract surgery can easily treat this condition. This common surgery has a high success rate, with over 95% of all cataract surgeries free of even mild complications.

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Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss in people aged 65 or older. This condition develops as the eye ages, meaning that by the time we reach 80, more than half of us will have developed a cataract or will have undergone cataract surgery.

Without cataract surgery, millions of people around the world would be unable to see clearly.

What Are Cataracts?


A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye which is normally transparent. The lens, located inside the eye, behind the iris and the pupil, focuses light onto the retina at the back of your eye, where it is converted to nerve signals that are passed to the brain, thus enabling you to see.

When your lens becomes cloudy, the images projected onto your retina become blurry and unfocused and therefore the signal to the brain is also unclear.

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What Causes Cataracts?


Cataracts are part of the natural aging process of the eye. While the majority of cases develop in old age, there are instances of congenital cataracts, present at birth. Further, secondary or traumatic cataracts can occur at any age as a result of eye injury, surgery, or disease.

Certain medical, genetic, and behavioral risk factors can also accelerate its development, such as diabetes, a family history of cataracts, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?


Symptoms of a cataract may develop slowly at first, or may not even be noticeable.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Sensitivity to glare
  • Colored halos around lights
  • Colors appearing more faded
  • Requiring brighter light for reading

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When To Consider Cataract Surgery?


Cataracts don’t suddenly develop overnight. They generally start off small and only begin to noticeably affect your vision as they grow. You should consider getting cataract surgery once the condition begins to seriously impair your vision and adversely affects your daily life, impacting your ability to:

  • Read
  • Drive
  • Play golf or tennis
  • Watch TV
  • Recognize faces

Surgery should also be considered if it’s preventing the treatment of another eye problem, such as glaucoma. The good news is that cataract surgery successfully restores vision in the vast majority of cases.

Cataract Surgery


Cataract surgery, a relatively quick and painless procedure, is one of the most common surgeries performed in North America.

This surgery involves removing the clouded natural lens and replacing it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL) that becomes a permanent part of the eye.

IOLs are usually made of plastic and most of them are monofocal lenses or single power lenses to correct for distance vision. As technology advances, specialized IOLs continue to be developed. From multifocal IOLs to IOLs that block UV and blue light radiation, patients have greater options available to them now than ever before.

If you or a loved one has cataracts and would like more information on cataract surgery, please contact today.

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