Common Eye Conditions

There are many common eye conditions that can compromise good vision. An important part of our practice at Heritage Eye, Skin And Laser Center is to detect, manage, and resolve these eye conditions in order to help our patients see more clearly. An important part of detecting eye conditions is through regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams. From presbyopia, astigmatism, farsightedness, nearsightedness, and other common conditions, to more serious problems such as retinal detachment, our doctors are equipped to handle almost any eye condition.

Refractive Errors

Refraction is the process by which the eyes lens focuses light on the retina, which is the first step toward transmitting visual data to the brain. In a properly functioning eye, the light is focused precisely onto the surface of the retina at all visual depths, allowing clear vision in all conditions. Refractive errors occur when the eye focuses light improperly, compromising vision at certain focal depths and orientations.

presbyopiaPresbyopia is one of the most common eye conditions that exists. Almost everyone is eventually affected, usually around middle age, as they find it more difficult to see things up close. Reading and other such tasks become difficult, and even those who have had clear vision their entire lives eventually require reading glasses in order to see clearly at near distance.

The causes of presbyopia are not fully understood, but the eye’s natural lens is thought to be responsible. The lens flexes under the control of tiny muscles inside the eye in order to focus on objects at different distances. Over time the lens becomes thicker and stiffer, making it more difficult to focus on close objects.

At our practice, the treatment for presbyopia focuses on restoring clear vision at close distances while preserving already-clear distance vision. The condition can be treated surgically with monovision LASIK, by implanting an intraocular lens that provides vision at all distances; or non-surgically through monovision contact lenses, multifocal contact lenses, or with glasses.

astigmatismA healthy eye is uniformly curved, causing light from all directions to be focused evenly onto the retina. With astigmatism, the eye is irregularly shaped. This causes light originating from certain angles to be focused on different parts of the retina, which results in blurry and distorted vision at all focal distances. Astigmatism is often accompanied by nearsightedness or farsightedness, but it can also be present by itself. 

At Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center, our eye doctors are experienced in the treatment of astigmatism. Using the Custom LASIK procedure and other advanced treatments, we can help you see more clearly if you are affected by astigmatism or other refractive errors.

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, occurs when the eye focuses light in front of the retina, rather than directly onto it. People who are nearsighted have clear vision up close, but cannot see well at distance. Nearsightedness can be treated with glasses, contact lenses, or through Custom LASIK, and other refractive procedures.

farsightedness_nearsightedness-farsightednessFarsightedness, also known as hyperopia, occurs when the eye focuses light behind the retina. In this case, the affected person sees well at distance, but is unable to see objects up close.  Glasses, contact lenses, and a variety of laser treatments are available to correct farsightedness, including Custom LASIK.

Corneal Conditions

The cornea is the transparent outer layer of the eye. The cornea plays a vital role in the refraction process that makes vision possible, so disorders and diseases affecting the cornea have serious implications for clear eyesight.

keratoconus-with-labels-660x488This disorder is caused by structural changes in the cornea that cause it to take on a conical shape, rather than the normal curved shape. Over time, keratoconus can cause significant visual distortion, including nearsightedness and astigmatism. Specialized custom contact lenses help control the symptoms of keratoconus for many patients, and corneal transplant surgery is also an option in advanced cases.

Injuries or scratches on the cornea can be extremely painful, but they generally heal themselves quickly. Severe corneal abrasions sometimes take a week or more to heal, but minor scratches often heal in hours. Treatment includes topical anesthetic for pain control and a protective eye patch. In serious cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent an infection from developing.

Corneal ulcers occur when the outer surface of the eye is breached, allowing the underlying tissue to become infected. Untreated, corneal ulcers can lead to widespread infection in the eye, which may threaten the patients vision. Treatment includes antibiotic eye drops for the infection and steroids to prevent scarring and inflammation.

In this disease, the thin inner lining of the cornea malfunctions, causing problems with fluid regulation in the eye that allow water to collect in the cornea. This in turn leads to swelling and inflammation that grow worse over time. The most characteristic symptom of Fuch’s dystrophy is blurry vision that is most severe in the mornings and then clears up over the course of the day. This is because fluid is retained in the eyes while they are closed during sleep, but it then evaporates over the course of the day. Fuchs dystrophy cannot be cured, but it can be treated with the aid of saline drops that draw fluid from the eyes. Eventually, severe Fuchs dystrophy may warrant a full corneal transplant.

In bullous keratopathy, the inner layer of the cornea stops working entirely. This causes the cornea to swell permanently, sometimes spurring the development of fluid-filled blisters in the corneal tissue. Saline eye drops, which can draw fluid out of the cornea, and eventual corneal transplant are the most common treatments.

Retinal Conditions

The retina, which covers the inner back surface of the eye, functions like a screen inside the eye onto which images are projected. These images are then transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain. The central portion of the retina, known as the macula, is responsible for high-resolution central vision. In addition to diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, other conditions affecting the retina can compromise the vision.

In retinal detachment, the retina separates from the inner surface of the eye. It can be related to post-surgical complications, an eye injury, or extremely strong nearsightedness. Sudden flashes of light, a curtain-like shrouding of the vision, and spiderweb-like floaters are common symptoms. They can manifest suddenly or gradually, depending on the cause of the condition. Typically, retinal detachment must be repaired surgically. Less extreme cases can be repaired with laser surgery or cryopexy, but more severe cases require a permanent surgical attachment known as a scleral buckle to hold the retina in place.

Retinal vein occlusion occurs when the veins behind the retina become blocked. These veins normally drain blood and fluid from the retina, but when they become blocked they begin to leak that fluid back into the retina. This can cause sudden loss of vision. Treatment varies depending on the specifics of each case, but many patients benefit from laser surgery that seals leaking blood vessels.

Other Eye Conditions

The eye is a complex system and can be affected by many different conditions of varying severity. We can treat a great many of these if the need arises.

man-with-dry-eyesChronic dry eyes are caused by many different factors, including age, eye surgery side effects, medications, hormonal shifts, diseases, infections, environmental conditions, contact lenses, and even straining activities such as reading. A normally functioning eye produces lubricating tears throughout the day, keeping itself moist and comfortable. People who suffer from dry eye syndrome do not produce enough of these tears. As a result, the eye tries to compensate by producing another kind of tears known as reflex tears, which do not lubricate the eyes effectively. These tears are an emergency response, and they constitute primary symptom of dry eye syndrome. The primary treatment for dry eye is the use of specialized moisturizing eye drops. In cases caused by infection, antibiotics may also be required. Surgical procedures are also an option in certain cases to slow the tear drainage system.

Low vision describes a condition in which eye care patients are unable to see effectively even with the aid of glasses, contacts, medicine, and surgery. This condition can be linked to a host of different factors, and treatment varies depending on the cause. For patients whose low vision is not curable, a variety of vision aids are available to make daily life easier.

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the inner eyelid and the front of the eye. It is caused by a bacterial infection, and it is characterized by redness in the whites of the eyes and a yellowish discharge around the eyelids. Pink eye is normally treated with antibiotic eye drops.

Flashes and floaters, while they may be alarming, are usually harmless and do not require treatment. They may be caused by small pieces of tissue or debris in the fluid inside the eye. In certain cases, they may be linked to a serious condition such as retinal detachment. For this reason, a prompt eye exam is important if you experience these symptoms.

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. Most people experience it at some point in their lives, but occasionally people experience chronic blepharitis. It can be caused by poor hygiene, allergies, or an infection. Treatment may include medicated eye drops and thorough eye cleaning.

A pterygium is a triangular piece of tissue that grows from the corner of the eye (usually the inner corner) over the cornea. Pterygiums are thought to be caused by exposure to sunlight, dust, and other environmental factors. If it is big enough, a pterygium may affect the patients vision by physically obscuring it or by changing the shape of the cornea to create a refractive error. A pterygium can also cause irritation and redness. Eye drops can be used to control irritation, but if the pterygium begins to affect vision it may need to be removed surgically.

With Strabismus, the eyes point in different directions. They may be turned outward, inward, crossed, or vertically misaligned. The condition is usually linked to neurological problems, injuries to the muscles or nerves controlling the eyes, tumors, strokes, Graves disease, or diabetes. Treatment varies depending on the cause of the problem, but it usually involves glasses, patching one eye, special prism lenses, or surgery.

The uvea is responsible for supplying blood to the retina. Uveitis is a form of inflammation that affects the uvea, causing scarring and eventual vision loss. Symptoms of uveitis include red eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision, floating spots in the vision, and eye pain. Anti-inflammatory medications are usually the best treatment, though surgery may be required in extreme cases.

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