At one time or another in your life, you will likely have an eye disease or condition that will need treatment. At VisionCare Associates in East Lansing, our eye doctors are specially trained and have been leaders in the field of optometry for over 30 years.
We are here to help. Personalized, compassionate service is the hallmark of our practice.
What are Eye Diseases?
Eye diseases are a blanket term that refers to any diseases that relate to the eye’s function. Not all eye diseases have symptoms or cause pain.
They may not even be serious or cause vision loss at first, but for many of them, early detection is the best solution.
What are the Most Common Eye Diseases?
Common eye diseases include:
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve. This damage to the optic nerve is permanent and irreversible.
Left untreated, glaucoma results in vision loss and blindness. For most people with glaucoma, they do not realize they have it until vision loss has already occurred.
This is because glaucoma has few symptoms to watch out for. The best line of defense against glaucoma is to have regular eye exams with your ophthalmologist.
When diagnosed and treated early, severe vision loss from glaucoma can often be avoided.
Refractive errors are the most frequent eye problems that people in the United States suffer from. Refractive errors include nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism, and presbyopia, which occurs when the lens loses its flexibility with age.
Refractive errors are easy to correct thanks to visual aids like eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive procedures like LASIK or PRK.
Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an eye disease that occurs when there is an infection or inflammation of the eye’s conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin, protective membrane that covers the eye as well as the inner surface of the eyelids.
Conjunctivitis occurs because of viruses, bacteria, allergens, and irritants like dust or smoke. This eye disease is highly contagious if someone has bacterial conjunctivitis.
When someone has pink eye, they will exhibit redness in the white of their eye, as well as increased tearing and discharge. Most minor cases will improve after two weeks.
Some may cause severe corneal inflammation, which can then threaten sight. Make sure to visit your eye doctor if you think you have conjunctivitis to receive an exam and treatment.
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye diseases that can occur because of having diabetes. This includes diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma.
With any diabetic eye diseases, the best course of action is early detection and treatment. When left untreated, these diseases could lead to permanent vision loss.
Diabetic patients should see their eye doctor on a regular basis, which may be annually or more often, depending on their recommendation. To reduce the likelihood of developing diabetic eye diseases, those with diabetes should do their best to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe and permanent vision loss in those that are over the age of 60. AMD occurs when the macula wears down.
There are two kinds of AMD, wet and dry. In the dry form, there are usually yellow deposits called drusen on the macula. These get bigger over time and may cause visual distortion.
As AMD gets worse, the macula’s light-sensitive cells get thinner before eventually dying. In the wet form, which is less common, as only about 10% of people with AMD have it, blood vessels grow under the macula.
These new blood vessels are not strong and leak fluid and blood into the retina. This leakage causes visual distortion as well as the potential for the loss of central vision.
Over time, the leaking blood vessels form a scar, which leads to the permanent loss of central vision. Although there is no cure for AMD, there are ways to treat it to try and salvage any remaining vision.
One way is with anti-angiogenesis drugs like Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea. These drugs block the eye from being able to create any weaker blood vessels. Using these drugs may result in getting back some of the vision lost due to AMD.
Another method is laser therapy, which uses high-energy lasers to destroy the abnormal blood vessels growing in the eye. Patients have also had success with photodynamic laser therapy, which involves the injection of a light-sensitive drug (Visudyne) into the bloodstream.
The drug is then absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels. Your doctor then shines a special laser into your eye, which activates the medication and damages the weak blood vessels.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide as well as the leading cause of vision loss in the country. A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy.
This most often happens because of the natural aging process. The only way to treat cataracts is to have them removed during cataract surgery.
Common signs of having a cataract include blurry vision, faded vision, experiencing double vision, seeing things with a yellowed tint, and seeing glares or halos around lights. It can take years or even decades for a cataract to develop.
Cataract surgery only becomes necessary once a cataract has impacted your quality of life.
How Can I Prevent Eye Diseases?
Though there is no way to guarantee you will never develop eye diseases, the best way to keep your eyes healthy is to schedule regular eye exams. Eye exams are one of the only ways to see the inner workings of the eye.
This is crucial for diagnosing conditions and tracking the development of things like cataracts. How often you should go to your eye doctor depends on your age, as well as your health and if you have any existing eye conditions.