A study from the team at Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that people consider losing vision to be the worst affliction that could affect them (even worse than the loss of a limb). But many were unaware of the eye diseases that commonly lead to blindness.
Dr. Edward Hedaya of InVision EyeCare, an ophthalmology practice in Lakewood, wants to change that by educating his blog readers. Here, he explains the four eye diseases that are responsible for the majority of cases of blindness in our country.
Cataracts, which cloud the eyes’ natural lenses, are mostly due to effects of the aging process and are largely unavoidable. As the lens ages, proteins in the lens clump together and gradually cloud or distort vision. When the visual symptoms of cataracts affect quality of life, cataracts should be removed surgically. The lens is then replaced with a synthetic intraocular lens to restore clear vision and sharp focus.
Glaucoma occurs when fluid builds up in the eye and eventually damages the optic nerve. Many people don’t know they have glaucoma until it has advanced considerably. Treating glaucoma can require prescription eye drops or surgery to lower the pressure inside the eye.
People with diabetes are at risk of diabetic retinopathy, in which the blood vessels that nourish the retina can become damaged. In some cases of the disease, new abnormal blood vessels can form, leaking fluid and blood into the eye. Diabetics can lower their chances of the disease by managing their blood sugar levels. Traditional or laser surgery can be performed to treat damaged or abnormal blood vessels.
Macular degeneration affects the macula, or the center of the retina responsible for sharp central vision and fine detail. The earlier stage of the disease is typically classified as “dry” macular degeneration, at which point yellowish spots of debris called drusen can accumulate around the macula. Wet macular degeneration is the more advanced phase of the disease, when new blood cells can grow beneath the retina and leak fluid and blood.
Although there is currently no cure for macular degeneration, certain drugs can stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Good nutrition and vitamin supplementation are also believed to help stop the disease’s progression and improve vision.
Prevent Vision Loss
The best way to prevent vision loss due to these diseases is early detection. Dr. Hedaya encourages everyone to have eye exams with a trusted ophthalmologist annually, or sooner if vision loss occurs. When these diseases are caught in their early stages, it is easier to stop or even reverse the effects they have on vision.
For more information about any of the diseases mentioned in this post, please call 732-607-8515 or email InVision EyeCare today.