How Vision Changes Over Time

Understanding how your eyes change over time can help bring you one step closer to reclaiming younger vision.

HEALTHY EYE

In a healthy eye, the crystalline or natural lens is flexible and pliable. Muscles and fibers within the eye relax and contract, reshaping the lens in order to change focus to near, far or in between, and back again.

Healthy Eye
In a healthy eye, light enters through the eye’s natural lens and focuses directly onto the retina, yielding a clear image.

01_HealthEye_View1

PRESBYOPIA

Presbyopia is a common age-related condition that is usually first noticed around the ages of 40 and 50. As we age, the once-flexible natural lens becomes firmer and less responsive to the eye’s efforts to change focus. This lack of flexibility reduces the eye’s ability to switch from seeing objects at a distance to seeing objects up close, resulting in the need for reading glasses or bifocals.

Presbyopia Eye
Presbyopia occurs when the eye’s lens loses its ability to change focus and direct light precisely onto the retina. This typically results in blurred vision when reading or looking at objects up close.

SIGNS OF PRESBYOPIA

Loss of ability to read up close
Difficulty viewing a computer screen
The need for reading glasses or bifocals
The need to hold objects farther away to read

05_Eye_Presbyopia

CATARACTS

Cataracts are a common vision disorder that occurs as a normal part of the aging process. As we age, proteins in the eye slowly begin to cluster together, causing the eye’s natural lens to become clouded and discolored. When this occurs, light rays passing through the eye become scattered and unfocused, resulting in a blurry image.

Cataract Eye
Cataracts cause light to scatter as it passes through the eye’s natural lens, resulting in blurred, hazy vision.

07_Eye_Cataract

SIGNS OF CATARACTS

Difficulty driving, especially at night
Difficulty seeing at night
Difficulty viewing a computer screen
Colors appear dim and faded
Frequent change in eyeglass prescription

What Are the Solutions?

Cataract surgery is the only treatment that allows you to regain lost vision due to cataracts. When cataracts are removed during your surgery, a surgeon will replace the eye’s natural lens with an intraocular lens (IOL). There are two main types of IOLs: monofocal and multifocal. Monofocal IOLs treat cataracts only. Multifocal IOLs are designed to treat both cataracts and presbyopia.

©2012 Abbott Medical Optics Inc.
www.AbbottMedicalOptics.com
2011.10.24-CT4175

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 50.  About 1.75 million U.S. residents currently have advanced age-related macular degeneration with associated vision loss, with that number expected to grow to almost 3 million by 2020.

This eye disease occurs when there are changes to the macula, a small portion of the retina that is located on the inside back layer of the eye. AMD is a loss of central vision.

Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Neovascular refers to growth of new blood vessels in an area, such as the macula, where they are not supposed to be.

Dry AMD

Dry AMD is an early stage of the disease and may result from the aging and thinning of macular tissues, depositing of pigment in the macula or a combination of the two processes.

Dry macular degeneration is diagnosed when yellowish spots known as drusen begin to accumulate in and around the macula. It is believed these spots are deposits or debris from deteriorating tissue.

Wet AMD

Wet macular degeneration occurs when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells, which die off and create blind spots in central vision.

Choroidal neovascularization (CNV), the underlying process causing wet AMD and abnormal blood vessel growth, is the body’s misguided way of attempting to create a new network of blood vessels to supply more nutrients and oxygen to the eye’s retina. Instead, the process creates scarring, leading to sometimes severe central vision loss.

Wet macular degeneration falls into two categories:

Occult. New blood vessel growth beneath the retina is not as pronounced, and leakage is less evident in the occult CNV form of wet macular degeneration, which typically produces less severe vision loss.

Classic. When blood vessel growth and scarring have very clear, delineated outlines observed beneath the retina, this type of wet AMD is known as classic CNV, usually producing more severe vision loss.

There is as yet no outright cure for age-related macular degeneration, but some treatments may delay its progression or even improve vision.

Treatments for macular degeneration depend on whether the disease is in its early-stage, dry form or in the more advanced, wet form that can lead to serious vision loss. No FDA-approved treatments exist yet for dry macular degeneration, although nutritional intervention may help prevent its progression to the wet form.

Age-related macular degeneration usually produces a slow, painless loss of vision. In rare cases, however, vision loss can be sudden. Some common symptoms of AMD are:

  • a gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
  • distorted vision, a gradual loss of color vision
  • a dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision.

If you experience any of these, contact our office immediately for a comprehensive examination to determine if you have macular degeneration, or any other eye health problems.

 

Glaucoma: The Silent Vision Thief

Glaucoma is a silent illness; most people have no early symptoms and do not notice as their peripheral vision diminishes or blind spots occur. The disease affects more than 2.2 million Americans age 40 and older, half of whom do not know they have the disease. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and knowing your risk for the disease can save your sight. If untreated, glaucoma ultimately results in blindness.

Glaucoma can be a silent, thief-like illness, and currently there is no treatment to restore vision once it’s lost. But when it is detected early, closely monitored and treated, it can significantly slow its progression and minimize vision loss.

Because glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable blindness, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging Americans to know their risks for the disease.

Among Americans, higher risk groups include those of African or Hispanic heritage and others with a family history of the illness. Elderly individuals with African ancestry are five times more likely to develop glaucoma and 14 to 17 times more likely to become blind than similar aged individuals with European ancestry. The risk for Hispanic Americans rises markedly after age 60. Those of any ethnicity who have a family history of the illness are four to nine times more susceptible.

Other glaucoma risk factors include aging, nearsightedness, previous eye injuries, steroid use, and health conditions including cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and migraine headache.

For individuals with symptoms of or at risk for eye diseases like glaucoma, it’s recommended that they see their ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined. Those with no symptoms or risk factors for eye disease should get a baseline screening at age 40 when the signs of disease and change in vision may start to occur.

Glaucoma Symptoms
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain. As glaucoma worsens, cells die in the retina—a special, light-sensitive area of the eye—reducing the optic nerve’s ability to relay visual information to the brain. In the most common form of the disease, open-angle glaucoma, peripheral vision usually narrows, then other blank spots occur in the visual field. Symptoms of the less common but more acutely dangerous form of the disease, closed-angle glaucoma, include blurred vision, severe eye pain and headache, rainbow-colored halos around lights, and nausea and vomiting. Anyone with these symptoms needs to be seen by an Eye M.D. right away.

Call today and schedule a FREE Glaucoma screening!

Christmas Toys and Eye Safety

It’s that time of year! Christmas is here and picking out that perfect gift for your child or grandchild is your number one priority. But, picking out the perfect gift not only means getting them what they want, but what is going to be safe for them.

Approximately 217,000 children, ages 14 and under, were treated at hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries in 2005. Nearly half of the children treated for these injuries were 4 years old and younger. The majority of these injuries also happen to the face, head, eyes, neck, mouth, and ears.

Children are born with an underdeveloped visual system that grows with them. As part of normal infant vision development, newborns can see objects only up close, and toddlers and preschoolers commonly are farsighted. Throughout their growing years, children are visually stimulated. Nothing stimulates a child’s vision more easily than a toy.

Children spend a great deal of time playing with their toys, so you need to make sure those toys are safe for overall health as well as eye safety. Usually when toys are not safe, it’s because they are not age-appropriate for the child.

It is important sure the toy is developmentally appropriate. Smaller pieces can be found in toys labeled for children age 3 and up. If your 4-year-old still likes to put things in her mouth, these toys are not developmentally appropriate for her.

Make sure your child’s toys are sturdily constructed so they won’t break or fall apart with reasonable play, and double-check that any paints or finishes are non-toxic and not likely to peel or flake off.

Avoid toys with sharp or rough edges or pieces. Make sure long-handled toys — such as a pony stick, broom or vacuum — have rounded handles, and closely supervise toddlers with such toys.

Avoid toys that shoot objects in the air — such as slingshots, dart guns or arrows — for children under 6, and closely supervise any child playing with such toys. If your older child plays with a chemistry set or woodworking tools, provide him or her with safety goggles.

All About Vision gives the following guidelines for age-appropriate toys for children to stimulate their visual development, develop hand-eye coordination and understand spatial relationships.

Birth to 12 months. Brightly colored mobiles (make sure the colors and detail on the mobile pieces face down to the child, not up to the parent), rattles, balls, stuffed animals, activity gyms, blocks, stacking/nesting toys, pouring toys (such as measuring cups).

1-year-olds. Finger paints, modeling clay, board books, balls, stuffed animals, blocks, stacking/nesting toys, pouring toys (such as measuring cups), riding toys, puzzles, shape sorters, musical toys.

2-year-olds. Finger paints, modeling clay, chalkboard and chalk, felt board and felt pieces, board books as well as standard books, balls, stuffed animals, stacking/nesting toys, pouring toys (such as measuring cups), riding toys, puzzles, shape sorters, musical toys, swings, dress-up clothes, child-sized household toys and items (broom, vacuum, rake, lawn mower), toy typewriter or cash register, child-sized kitchen area (refrigerator, stove, microwave, sink, cupboard, table and chairs), sandbox, kiddie pool, toddler tape player, stringing beads, sewing toys, magnetic letters, climbing toys (such as backyard gyms or playscapes).

3- to 6-year-olds. Large crayons, large markers, finger paints, modeling clay, chalkboard and chalk, felt board and felt pieces, doctor/nurse kit, books, balls, stuffed animals, tricycle or bicycle, puzzles, musical toys, swings, dress-up clothes, child-sized household toys and items (broom, vacuum, rake, lawn mower), toy typewriter or cash register, child-sized kitchen area (refrigerator, stove, microwave, sink, cupboard, table and chairs), sandbox, kiddie pool, child CD player, stringing beads, magnetic letters, climbing toys (such as backyard gyms or playscapes), toy computer or computer games, toy camera with film, basketball set, board games, roller skates.

7- to 10-year-olds. Crayons, markers, finger paints, modeling clay, arts and crafts kits, sewing toys, books, balls, stuffed animals, bicycle, puzzles, musical toys or musical instruments, swings, dress-up clothes, sandbox, kiddie pool, tape player, toy computer or computer games, camera with film, board games, science items (such as microscope, telescope and chemistry sets), roller skates, skateboard, jump rope, sports equipment, electric train set.

Have a safe and Merry Christmas from all of us at Wabash Valley Eye Center!

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

Since diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age, early detection is critical. Each year, 12,000 – 24,000 people lose their sight because diabetic eye disease rarely has early warning signs. Detection begins with having a dilated eye examination every year to check for signs of diabetic eye disease and following a course of action recommended by an optometrist.

When optometrists dilate a patient’s eyes during an eye exam, they have a clear view of the retina and can look for indications of diabetic eye disease, such as leaking blood vessels, swelling and deposits within the retina.  Optometrists often serve as the first line of detection for diabetes, since the eye is the only place on the body that blood vessels can be seen in their natural condition without having to surgically cut through skin.

Without yearly comprehensive eye exams, conditions such as diabetic retinopathy can go unnoticed by patients until the disease has further progressed towards blindness. Diabetic retinopathy causes progressive damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye. It is a serious, sight-threatening complication of diabetes that results from damage to tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These small blood vessels leak blood and other fluids that cause swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision which usually affects both eyes.

A patient with diabetes can help prevent or slow the development of diabetic retinopathy by taking prescribed medication as directed, sticking to a healthy diet, exercising regularly, controlling high blood pressure and abnormal blood cholesterol levels, and avoiding alcohol and smoking.  Once the disease develops, the potential for significant vision loss can be dramatically reduced by more aggressive blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol control and timely referral for laser treatment, when appropriate. In addition, newer medications for retinopathy have recently been shown to be very effective for preserving, and sometimes improving vision.  The key is to detect the problem early so that the chances of maintaining good eyesight are maximized.

Several factors influence whether someone with diabetes develops diabetic retinopathy.  These include controlling blood sugar and blood pressure, blood lipid control, the length of time with diabetes, race, and family history.

Both African Americans and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes as Caucasians. According to the American Diabetes Association, on average, about 11.8 percent of Hispanics and 12.6 percent of African Americans aged 20 years or older have been diagnosed with diabetes.

For these reasons, it is very important for people with diabetes to have a dilated eye exam every year.

Welcome to WVEC Blog!

We will post important information regarding your eyecare needs here.
Please check back regularly!