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FAQ – Eye Diseases

What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are found in persons over age 55, but they are also occasionally found in younger people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

What are Dry Eyes?

The tears your eyes produce are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Dry eye means that your eyes do not produce enough tears or that you produce tears that do not have the proper chemical composition. Often, dry eye is part of the natural aging process. It can also be caused by blinking or eyelid problems, medications like antihistamines, oral contraceptives and antidepressants, a dry climate, wind and dust, general health problems like arthritis or Sjogren’s syndrome and chemical or thermal burns to your eyes. If you have dry eye, your symptoms may include irritated, scratchy, dry, uncomfortable or red eyes, a burning sensation or feeling of something foreign in your eyes and blurred vision. Excessive dry eyes may damage eye tissue, scar your cornea (the front covering of your eyes) and impair vision and make contact lens wear difficult.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the internal pressure in your eyes increases enough to damage the nerve fibers in your optic nerve and cause vision loss. The increase in pressure happens when the passages that normally allow fluid in your eyes to drain become clogged or blocked. The reasons that the passages become blocked are not known.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in America. It results from changes to the macula, a portion of the retina that is responsible for clear, sharp vision, and is located at the back of the eye. Most people with macular degeneration have the dry form, for which there is no known treatment. The less common wet form may respond to laser procedures, if diagnosed and treated early. Some common symptoms are a gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly, distorted vision, a gradual loss of color vision and a dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a vision disorder that occurs when the normally round cornea (the front part of the eye) becomes thin and irregular (cone) shaped. This abnormal shape prevents the light entering the eye from being focused correctly on the retina and causes distortion of vision.

What are Floaters?

Spots (often called floaters) are small, semi-transparent or cloudy specks or particles within the vitreous, which is the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes. They appear as specks of various shapes and sizes, threadlike strands or cobwebs. Because they are within your eyes, they move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. Spots are often caused by small flecks of protein or other matter trapped during the formation of your eyes before birth. They can also result from deterioration of the vitreous fluid, due to aging; or from certain eye diseases or injuries. Most spots are not harmful and rarely limit vision. But, spots can be indications of more serious problems, and you should see one of our optometrists for a comprehensive examination when you notice sudden changes or see increases in them.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar and can cause many health problems. One, called diabetic retinopathy, can weaken and cause changes in the small blood vessels that nourish your eye’s retina, the delicate, light sensitive lining of the back of the eye. These blood vessels may begin to leak, swell or develop brush-like branches. The early stages of diabetic retinopathy may cause blurred vision, or they may produce no visual symptoms at all. As the disease progresses, you may notice a cloudiness of vision, blind spots or floaters. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness, which is one reason why it is important to have your eyes examined regularly by one of our doctors. This is especially true if you are a diabetic or if you have a family history of diabetes.