Intricate and complex, the eyes take in and process light and communicate information to the brain through electronic impulses. Several diseases and conditions - viral, bacterial, and genetic - affect the eyes and their ability to function properly. During your eye exam, our doctors check your eyes for a host of different diseases and disorders including glaucoma, dry eye syndrome, cataracts, macular degeneration, conjunctivitis and other eye diseases tied to your broader systemic health. Any sign of unusual eye symptoms should prompt a visit with an eye care professional.
Lafayette Eye Associates has developed a robust information library to educate you further in the community content section of our website. Below you can learn a little bit about a few more prevalent conditions, but should in no way replace the need to consult an eye care professional.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and an eye exam is essential to monitoring eye health, preserving your vision for life. Glaucoma does not refer to damage to the eyeball itself, but rather to the optic nerve that carries visual information to the brain. Changes in eye pressure may constrict the nerve causing glaucoma. The damage caused by glaucoma prevents the brain from receiving appropriate visual information, resulting in vision loss. Medicated eye drops are a common treatment, but surgery may be necessary in some severe cases. Glaucoma is commonly referred to as the "quiet" or "silent" eye disease, as you may not notice any changes in vision before permanent damage has already occurred. Visit our glaucoma resource page if you would like to learn more in advance of your visit.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye is a highly common -- and vexing -- eye condition that affects nearly 5% of Americans. Dry eye develops when your eye stops producing an appropriate tear layer or when your tears drain too quickly. Tears serve a number of purposes including to lubricate the surface of the eye, protect against infection and ensure clear vision. Without natural lubrication and the cleansing of tears, dry eye patients can experience a feeling of grit or debris in the eyes, tired eyes, blurred vision and light sensitivity. Their eyes may appear inflamed and reddened. In some extreme cases, chronic dry eye can result in increased eye infections and scarring of the cornea. Dry eye can be associated with environmental irritants, age, certain medications and medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems and rheumatoid arthritis. Our doctors have the ability to diagnose this condition and may recommend medications, dietary changes or minor procedures to rectify the problems associated with dry eye so that you do not continue to suffer.
As you age, many body parts begin to change and your eyes are no exception. One of the most common age-related eye changes is the development of some lens clouding, referred to as cataracts. Although cataracts do not occur exclusively in middle-aged adults, they affect approximately half of all Americans by age 80. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded and many people report that having cataracts is like looking through a foggy windshield, as everything looks clouded. This can cause difficulties performing many everyday tasks such as driving and reading. Other symptoms include blurred vision, changes in color vision, poor night vision or double vision. Checking for cataracts and monitoring their growth is part of a comprehensive eye examination. The early symptoms of cataracts can be reduced by changes in corrective eyeglass lenses or lighting conditions. In later stages, surgical removal of the cataract may be warranted. As cataracts grow and begin to cause further vision impairment, our doctors can discuss the options available to you.
Macular degeneration, the primary cause of loss of vision and blindness in older individuals ages 60 and above according to the Bright Focus™ Foundation, is one of the most important reasons for regular examinations by your eye care provider. It is a world-wide problem and the second most frequent cause of irreversible blindness globally. Regular visits to your eye doctor is critical for early diagnosis and treatment of this condition.
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is a common eye problem that can afflict people all ages and is highly contagious. It spreads quickly, particularly in environments like classrooms or offices filled with multiple people in close proximity to one another. Fortunately, conjunctivitis is easily treated and can be prevented with proper care. If you think are suffering from conjunctivitis, schedule an appointment today. If you wear contact lenses, switch to your eyeglasses until you have been treated by the doctor and the condition has been resolved.
Eye Diseases Tied to Broader, System-Wide Health Conditions
Your eyes are the windows into your body, and as such, it is vital that you have regular eye examinations. Often, many systemic health disorders first become evident through your eyes such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus and Lyme disease. Through regular examinations, at least annually, our doctors are able to identify signs of these conditions so that you can get the appropriate treatment as early as possible. Other conditions and their prescribed treatment plans can greatly impact your visual systems if not properly managed and monitored such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure. Our doctors can also more actively and effectively manage and treat complications of numerous systemic conditions through regular examinations. If you have not had an eye examination within the last year, schedule an appointment today.