Vision plays a large role in our daily lives, which is why it’s necessary to familiarize yourself with common ocular diseases. Did you know nearly half of all American people are more concerned about going blind than losing their memories, walking ability, or hearing capacity? Despite this, nearly 30 percent of these polled individuals confessed to not having their eyes examined.
Whether you suspect you may be suffering from an ocular disease or are trying to catch one in its early stages, seeking guidance from an experienced eye care professional is vital. This post discusses a few of the most prevalent eye diseases, how to recognize them, and possible treatment options available to you today.
What Are the Most Common Ocular Diseases?
There are a variety of ocular diseases that individuals can be diagnosed with today, but some are more common than others. We have outlined a few of the most popular ones below.
#1. Diabetic Retinopathy
Retinopathy is the most prevalent diabetic eye illness, and it arises when high blood sugar levels disrupt the retina’s blood vessels. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s recommended to schedule yearly comprehensive eye exams to monitor potential development and progression of retinopathy. There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy:
- Mild nonproliferative retinopathy: Tiny bulges or microaneurysms have appeared in the retina that may cause the vessels to leak small amounts of blood into the retina.
- Moderate nonproliferative retinopathy: The blood vessels in the retina swell, and may not be able to carry blood as well as they used to. At this stage, physical changes to the retina can occur.
- Severe nonproliferative retinopathy: The blood vessels in the retina become even more blocked, meaning less blood goes to the retinas. At this stage, scar tissue begins to form, and the lack of blood signals the retina to create new blood vessels.
- Proliferative retinopathy: Neovascularization or the growth of new blood vessels on the retina occurs. The new blood vessels are thin, weak, and often bleed – scar tissue forms as a result. As scarring advances and gets smaller, the retina can be pulled away from the back of the eye, leading to permanent vision loss.
Early recognition and diagnosis of this ocular disease decreases the chance of visual impairment. However, up to 50 percent of patients don’t schedule regular checkups, and detect diabetic retinopathy too late to allow for effective therapy. If care is provided before the retina is injured, laser treatment is an option. Unfortunately, at severe stages there is no reliable technique to completely correct it.
Learning you have been experiencing visual impairment due to a cataract can be alarming, but what exactly is a cataract? Cataracts develop slowly over time, and commonly go unnoticed in early stages. Cataract formation clouds the normally clear lens of the eye, leading to cloudy vision resembling that of a frosty or fogged window. Cataracts can develop at any age for a variety of reasons, and left untreated, can lead to vision loss.
Today, approximately 20.5 million adults aged 40 and above have cataracts in one or both eyes, with 6.1 million having their lenses surgically removed. Improved eyewear, anti-glare sunglasses, enlarging lens, and stronger light can aid in the initial stages of cataracts. However, surgery is the only appropriate cure as the clouded lens will be removed and replaced with a synthetic one.
#3. Macular Degeneration
Widely known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), it is an eye illness that develops as one ages, causing damage to sharp and centered sight. Currently, AMD is the leading cause of vision impairments in adults aged 65 or above. AMD alters the macula or the center region of the retina that permits the eye to discern minute details. There are two main types of AMD:
- Wet AMD: Aberrant blood vessels growing below the retina and under the macula result in blood and fluid leaks. The vessels rupture, bleed, and clot, causing damage and progressive central visual impairment. A tell-tale indicator of wet AMD is when an individual sees straight lines as wavy.
- Dry AMD: The macula atrophies with age and an accumulation of drusen occurs. Dry AMD is the most prevalent type of macular degeneration, and accounts for 70 to 90 percent of patients. Those diagnosed with dry AMD notice slow deterioration of central vision as the macula becomes less functional.
Today, there are many treatments that those diagnosed with AMD can access for relief, from Anti-VEGF and photodynamic therapy to laser treatment and nutritional supplements high in minerals and vitamins. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects approximately 1.8 million American adults aged 40 and above, with an extra 7.3 million people at higher risk of acquiring the disease.
This ocular disease damages the optic nerve of an individual’s eye, and progresses over time. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to vision loss and blindness. There are two common types of glaucoma:
- Open-angle: A persistent ailment that progresses slowly and steadily without the individual realizing vision loss until the disease is far along. Open-angle glaucoma is commonly known as the “hidden robber of vision”.
- Closed-angle: A rare type of glaucoma that happens unexpectedly resulting in eye pressure rising quickly in the eye.
Often, eye doctors suggest a variety of care options for glaucoma to help avoid vision loss. These care options include, but are not limited to eye drops, implantable devices or laser eye surgery, and additional procedures based on the individual’s unique needs.
Amblyopia is the leading cause of vision impairment in children. Amblyopia occurs when a vision impairment results from a malfunction between the eyeball and central nervous system. Although the eye appears functional, the brain is prioritizing one eye over the other because of one of the following vision impairments:
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Hyperopia (farsightedness)
Amblyopia is one of the most prevalent reasons for lifelong one-eye impaired vision in children, adolescents, and young to middle-aged individuals unless properly managed in its early stages.
#6. Refractive Errors
Any presence of refractive error is caused by a distortion of light as it is moved between the cornea and the lens. This distortion diminishes vision and can range in severity. Refractive errors are the most common reason that individuals seek corrective lenses. If you suspect you are experiencing vision impairment due to a refractive error, seeking advice from an eye care professional about contact lenses or glasses is recommended.
The eyes are one of the most complicated and delicate body organs as special attention is required to ensure they remain in optimal condition, so you can continue living your everyday life with clear vision. Over the years, the remarkable care team at Art of Optiks has provided exceptional eye care services for individuals throughout Minnesota. Whether you believe you are experiencing problems with your vision due to a refractive error or another common ocular disease, we encourage you to contact us today to make an appointment.