Can You Slow Down the Progression of Macular Degeneration?

Imagine losing the ability to thread a needle, read small print, and even to read street signs. For many older Americans, this is a normal part of the aging process. Age related macular degeneration can change the way you see things every day.

Here’s what you need to know about macular degeneration and how you can help prevent it.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Age related macular degeneration is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye’s macula. The macula is a small area in the retina—the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.

Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process. The two types of age related macular degeneration are: dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration.

Dry macular degeneration—accounts for about 90% of cases. The tissue of the retina shrinks and pigments accumulate inside of it. Dry macular degeneration can progress to the wet form.

Wet macular degeneration—new blood vessels grow around and behind the macula. There’s sometimes bleeding in or behind the macula. Material seeps into the retina and settles in the macula. This is called an exudate. Eventually the exudate disappears, but a scar takes its place. All people who have wet macular degeneration had dry degeneration first.

Macular Degeneration Symptoms & Causes

Causes of macular degeneration include the formation of deposits called drusen under the retina, and in some cases, the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. With or without treatment, macular degeneration alone almost never causes total blindness. People with more advanced cases of macular degeneration continue to have useful vision using their side, or peripheral vision. In many cases, the impact macular degeneration has on your vision can be minimal.

There are some known risk factors for macular degeneration. Smoking may increase your chances of developing the condition and seems to speed up the progress. High cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity, and a diet lacking in dark green leafy vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids may also be associated with age related macular degeneration. Women seem to be at a higher risk than men.

Both types of macular degeneration are completely painless. In dry macular degeneration, the centre of the field of vision in an eye slowly blurs and grows dim. You can still see colours, but the details aren’t clear. This tends to happen over a period of years. Often, people don’t notice the early stages, especially if their other eye is working fine. Unfortunately, macular degeneration rarely affects just one eye. It may take some time, but the other eye may eventually start to develop the same problems.

The vision loss in wet macular degeneration is much more rapid. While the central part of the filed of vision fades and blurs, it usually vanishes completely, leaving a large blind spot. An early sign of wet macular degeneration is when you notice that lines in the center of the filed of view become wavy. This is due to new blood vessels leaking fluid under the macula, which lifts it from its bed and deforms the shape. Wet macular degeneration symptoms usually occur in one eye at a time.

Treatment and Prevention

While there’s little that can be done for dry macular degeneration, the disease progresses very slowly, and will probably never completely black out the central vision. Many people with this condition live full lives without serious disability.

Some studies have suggested a link between poor nutrition and faster degeneration of the macula. According to this evidence, fruit and dark green vegetables like spinach can slow the disease and contribute to better outcomes. For some people, a doctor will recommend a daily supplement that contains zinc, copper, vitamin E, vitamin D, and beta-carotene or vitamin A.

There is no cure for wet macular degeneration, but treatment may help slow it down. Laser surgery destroys tiny, newly grown blood vessels that may be bleeding into the macula. Photodynamic therapy may also be used. This involves injecting a medication called verteporfin into a vein. Then, a light is used to activate the medication to close, abnormal blood vessels. Medications injected into the eye, such as aflibercept, ranibizumab, or pegaptanib, may be used to slow down the growth of blood vessels. Daily supplements may also be recommended.

To help reduce your chances of getting macular degeneration:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Exercise
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in leafy greens
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection during the day

 Getting Diagnosed

An ophthalmologist or eye specialist will likely treat you based on your description of macular degeneration symptoms of whiteout, blackout, or blurring of the center of vision, but an eye exam is needed to confirm the diagnosis. If you would like to book an eye exam to test for macular degeneration, then contact the team at Advanced Eye Medical today.

 

How to Protect Your Child from Common Eye Disorders

 The Most Common Eye Health Issues Experienced by Young Kids

Common Eye Disorders in Young Children

  • Nearsightedness and Farsightedness
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye) refers to either a viral or bacterial infection (both very contagious), or an allergic reaction (not contagious).
  • Chalazion looks like a small lump on the eyelid, and may occur when a Meibomian gland (an oil-secreting gland in the eyelid) becomes clogged. It is not caused by infection.
  • Stye looks like a red, sore lump near the edge of the eyelid; it is caused by an infected eyelash follicle.
  • Orbital Cellulitis is an infection related to trauma, an upper respiratory infection or an eyelid infection.
  • Blocked Tear Duct occurs when the eye’s drainage system for tears is either partially or completely obstructed. Tears cannot drain normally, causing a watery, irritated or chronically infected eye.

 Signs & Symptoms of Vision Disorders

Here are some signs and symptoms that parents should look for if their child has a vision disorder:

  • Crawling incorrectly.
  • Bumping into furniture or walls.
  • Losing balance when standing up from a sitting position.
  • Holding objects close to their nose to see.
  • Rubbing eyes a lot.
  • Squinting frequently.
  • Using only one eye and covering the other.
  • Not focusing the eyes together

A comprehensive children’s eye exam at Advanced Eye Medical will help diagnose and treat eye disorders at an early age.

What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children’s Eyes Stay Healthy

Stay Informed. Listen to the recommendations of your child’s pediatrician and eye care professional as what your child needs. If he or she needs glasses just for class, then they should wear them only for those purposes. If the doctor recommends they wear them for sports, they should wear them only for sports and vision safety.

Parents’ biggest role in their children’s eye health is compliance with the doctor’s recommendation for their child. It’s not going to work if a prescribed pair of glasses are on the desk at home — not making it to the classroom — and the child is still squinting at school to read the whiteboards.

Encourage Kids to Wear Sunglasses. Sunglasses are essential for protecting eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Sunglasses should be worn whenever you’re outdoors during the daytime and this should be a practice that comes as second nature to the whole family.

Teach Your Kids About Eye Anatomy. If you want your kids to understand more about their eye health issues, it is a good idea to educate them about the eye. Teaching your kids about eye anatomy can peak their interest and curiosity, and will help them better understand the importance of good eye care habits — along with the consequences of bad eye care habits.

Encourage Cleanliness. Proper cleanliness and hygiene is something that most parents are vigilant about, but it’s important to remember this mentality extends to the eyes as well. We all remind our kids to brush their teeth but cleaning their eyelids are just as important to prevent infections and protect vision.

Inspire a Healthy Diet. Healthy eyes start with a good diet. It’s not just carrots that help your eye sight — dark green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts and dark-colored berries all contain essential nutrients and antioxidants that will do wonders for your eyes. Vitamin A, for example, is commonly found in bright yellow and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. Fruits like strawberries, oranges and mangoes provide vitamin C and other antioxidants, which also help fight eye disease. Salmon and other cold-water fish are also high in omega 3’s — good for tear production, which relieves dry eyes.

Schedule a Consultation

Stay informed and as an active participant in your child’s eye health this year. Protect his or her eyes by identifying early signs and symptoms to common eye health issues and consulting your doctor to better protect your child’s vision. Join us at Laser for Eyes for an expert consultation regarding a children’s eye exam. We will discuss and review your options to help you find the perfect fit for your child. Schedule a consultation with us today, and join our many satisfied patients.

References

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/common-childhood-diseases-conditions

http://www.eyephy.com/central-florida/vision-disorders/common-childhood-eye-problems.htm

http://www.davisvision.com/Common-Childhood-Vision-Problems/

What Happens to Our Eyes as We Age?


Sight Throughout the Years: How Our Vision Evolves and Devolves with Age

Our eyes are one of the most miraculous components of our body. They’re responsible for enabling us to take part in the majority of our day to day activities. They’re what allow us to take in the

world around us and create an unspoken connection with the people we interact with. Unfortunately, our eyesight doesn’t maintain its strength and clarity through the years as we age. Aging eyes plague millions of Americans with blurry vision, eye pain, or retinal disorders. However, just because we age does not mean our eyesight automatically goes out the window. There are plenty of steps to prevent eye problems from becoming a daily nuisance as we grow older, the first of which is understanding what naturally happens to our eyesight as we age.

How Our Eyes Work

As light enters our eye, it passes through the cornea. This is the translucent tissue at the front of the eye that acts as the “window” through which light must first penetrate. After light passes through the cornea, it is focused by the lens and onto the retina. The retina is responsible for converting light to a neural signal. Think of the retina like the film in a camera. Once this light is processed, it is carried via the optic nerve to be processed into visual information by our brain. As we age, this process is prone to becoming less coherent and inclined to cause us visual disruptions.

Aging Eyes

With age, our bodies are exposed to a countless barrage of contaminants, many of which go unnoticed to us. Considering our eyes are so exposed for the majority of our day, it makes sense that they would take quite the beating over the years. Sun exposure, dust particles, smoke, and bacteria in the air all slowly take their toll on our corneas. Another contributor to damaged corneas is the inflammation of the eyelids, also known as blepharitis. This may cause symptoms such as a disruptive, transient film over the eye or damaged tear cells. This can lead to a condition known as dry eye, where you may experience itchy or burning eyes. Typically, a humidifier or special eye drop supplement is prescribed to help with dry eye.

Our cornea is not the only thing that is prone to eye problems. As we grow older, the lens of our eye becomes less clear and flexible than it was when we were younger. This can both cloud and distort our vision, especially after the age of 40. This opaqueness of the lens is often referred to as a cataract and is a major cause of vision loss for middle-aged eye patients. Additionally, as the lens of our eyes grows stiffer and less pliable it has a more difficult time focusing on objects at certain distances. Presbyopia describes this condition, in which activities like reading a newspaper or a book, require you to hold the print further away in order to clearly read it.

Solutions

Fortunately, there are proven treatments to these common aging eye problems. A lens affected by cataracts can be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial one. LASIK surgery is another increasingly popular option for those with near or farsightedness and wanting to lessen their dependency on prescription glasses. LASIK implements a laser to safely access the area of your eye within the cornea to administer treatment for many common vision problems. Growing older means we must be more attentive to taking care of our bodies, especially the parts of our bodies we use and depend on every day of our lives. No one can see into the future, but the better we take care of our eyes, the better we’ll be able to see during our future.

For a consultation towards clear vision, or to clear up any questions you may have, contact the Orange County office today. We are standing by to answer any of your concerns, and to help you get your vision back to where you want it. Join our growing family of happy customers who trust us with their eyes.

Where Do We Get the Color of Our Eyes?

There is no more expressive part of our body than our eyes. These complicated windows to our soul come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They’re cause for fascination when we’re born, with our parents guessing whose eyes we’ll have. Will we have mom’s, dad’s, or catch the random gene bouncing around from our grandparents? From chocolate brown to icy blue and every shade of hazel in between, everyone’s eyes are different, telling their own story. But just how do we get our unique eye color?

The color of our eyes is determined by the pigmentation of our iris. The iris is the circular tissue surrounding the hole in the center of our eyes, called the pupil. Within the iris are muscles that regulate the amount of light entering our eyes, by constricting or dilating the pupil. In short, the iris is the most colorful and noticeable component of our vision and is critical to healthy eyes. The front layer of the iris contains a pigment called melanin. This is the ingredient most important in determining eye color. Storage, production, amount, and quality all play an important role in determining if our eyes are light or dark. Typically, larger amounts of melanin result in brown eyes, where less melanin result in lighter, blue or green eyes. The amount and quality of pigment is determined by the genetics passed onto us by our parents.

Have you ever noticed that all baby’s eyes are blue? This is because melanin production doesn’t begin right at birth. It isn’t until around the age of three that a baby’s true color is apparent. Believe it or not, some people’s eyes actually change color, or appear to anyway. The iris of our eyes has two layers and sometimes pigments find themselves in both. Depending on melanin levels in each layer and the amount of light diffraction at any given moment, some eyes are able to shift in hue. There is also a condition which allows certain individuals to have one eye a different color from the other. This condition, called heterochromia is rare and usually harmless.

To take a trip back to biology class, we can remember that our cells are made up of chromosomes, 46 to be exact. These chromosomes are separated into 23 pairs and contain genes that will later determine most of our physical characteristics. Within these genes are alleles that ultimately decide which of these characteristics will actually appear. When we’re born, we inherit one chromosome from each parent to create a complete original, us!

eyes

The two major genes involved with eye color are OCA2 and HERC2, both within chromosome 15. Previously it was thought a simple genetic pattern dealing with dominant and recessive traits was the sole determinant of light or dark eyes. Under this model, it was thought to be rare for blue eyed parents to conceive a brown-eyed child and vice versa. However, today we believe it’s a little more complicated than that. It is believed we have upwards of 15 different genes that play a role in the color of our eyes. Though brown eyes are traditionally more dominant than blue and our parent’s genetics are an effective way to predict eye color, the color of our eyes doesn’t quite work like mixing paint swatches at Home Depot. Because our eyes rely on so many more than two genes to decide color, there is simply a much wider range of possibilities in determining our baby blues or beautiful browns than we previously thought. Scientists continue to research what exactly causes the probabilities of being born with certain eye colors over others.

For a consultation towards clear vision, or to clear up any questions you may have regarding healthy eyes, contact Advanced Eye Medical today. We are standing by to answer any of your concerns, and to help you get your vision back to where you want it. Join our growing family of happy customers who trust us with their eyes.

 

Ocular Migraines and How They Disrupt Your Vision

The term ocular migraine can be a bit misleading. Typically, migraines imply excruciating physical head pain. However, ocular migraines describe the visual disturbances that can sometimes accompany traditional migraines. Many migraines are preceded by an aura. This can be anything from nausea to experiencing hearing or vision loss. These often serve as a warning to […]

Looking After Your Eyes for the New Year

As we start off the New Year, many of us are making New Year’s resolutions. One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to improve our health — a promise to better ourselves for a new year to come. Some may take up running or new a new nutritional diet. Others are simpler: taking measures to improve eye health. Here are our top recommendations for improving your eye health in 2017:

Eat Healthy and Clean

Protecting your eyes starts with what you eat. It’s not just carrots that help your eye sight — dark green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts and dark-colored berries all contain essential nutrients and antioxidants that will do wonders for your eyes. Vitamin A, for example, is commonly found in bright yellow and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.

Fruits like strawberries, oranges and mangoes provide vitamin C and other antioxidants, which also help fight eye disease. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, or anchovies are also high in omega 3s — good for tear production, which relieves dry eyes.

Stop Smoking

If you’re a smoker, make a resolution to quit in 2017 (this will help your overall health, as well as eye health). Smoking or people highly exposed to second hand smoke are more susceptible to developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage.

Wear Sunglasses

The UV rays aren’t just harmful to your skin, but your eyes, as well. Too much UV exposure increases your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye disorders. Choose sunglasses that shield your eyes from 100 percent of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Wear them whenever you’re outdoors during the daytime. For added protection, shield with a wide brim hat for full coverage and shade.

Give Your Eyes Breaks from Electronics

With computers and mobile devices in hands’ reach of every household, many of us develop Computer Eye Syndrome. Computer Eye Syndrome can cause eye strain, blurry vision, trouble focusing, dry eyes, headaches, and even neck and shoulder pain. To protect your eyes from Computer Eye Syndrome, use the 20/20/20 rule:

Rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This exercise encourages the eyes to relax the muscles inside the eye to reduce fatigue. Another exercise is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds then gaze at something up close for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This exercise will help reduce the risk of your eyes locking up after prolonged electronic use.

Get Regular Eye Exams

It’s important to get regular checkups to catch any eye problems such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease. It is recommended for patients to follow the below eye exam schedule:

  • At 40: a baseline eye exam
  • From 40 to 55: an eye exam every 2 to 4 years
  • Ages 55 to 64: an eye exam every 1 to 3 years
  • At 65 and up: an eye exam every year

Routine eye exams for kids’ vision vary by age:

  • Newborns should be checked for general eye health by a pediatrician or family physician in the hospital nursery.
  • High-risk newborns (including premature infants), those with a family history of eye problems, and those with obvious eye irregularities should be examined by an eye doctor.
  • In the first year of life, all infants should be routinely screened for eye health during checkups with their pediatrician or family doctor.
  • Around age 3, kids should have eye health screenings and visual acuity tests with their pediatrician or family doctor.
  • Around age 5, kids should have their vision and eye alignment checked by their pediatrician or family doctor. Those who fail either test should be examined by an eye doctor.
  • After age 5, routine screenings should be done at school and the primary doctor’s office, and if symptoms such as squinting or frequent headaches occur.

Schedule a Consultation

Keep it simple in 2017 and better your health with the gift of protecting your eyes. Join us at Advanced Eye Medical for an expert consultation on our services. Schedule a consultation with us today and join our many satisfied patients.


References and further reading