Glaucoma is a condition that develops when the pressure inside the eye rises high enough to damage the optic nerve. The condition often develops over many years without causing pain, so you may not experience vision loss until the disease has progressed. Glaucoma cannot be prevented, and vision lost to it cannot be restored. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness. For these reasons, regular eye exams and early detection are critical.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that weakens the blood vessels which supply nourishment to the retina (the light-sensitive lining in the back of the eye where vision is focused). When these weak vessels leak, swell or develop thin branches, vision loss occurs. In its advanced stages, the disease can cause blurred or cloudy vision, floaters and blind spots – and, eventually, blindness. This damage is irreversible.
Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is preventable. People with diabetes are most susceptible to developing it, but risk is reduced if follow a prescribed diet and medications, exercise regularly, controlling blood pressure, and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes. Regular eye exams are an integral part of making sure your eyes are healthy.
Macular degeneration is the number one cause of blindness in the United States. It occurs when the macula -- a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our vision is clear and sharp -- degrades or “degenerates,” causing a progressive loss of vision.
The “dry” form of macular degeneration has no treatment, but the “wet” form may be helped by laser procedures if it is detected early. Because of this, and because vision lost to the disease is irrecoverable, regular eye exams are highly recommended. Certain vitamins and minerals may also aid in slowing or preventing vision loss.
Symptoms often associated with macular degeneration include:
- Gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- A gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted vision
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision
Dry eye syndrome is the lack of sufficient tears - when your eyes aren't moist enough, either because they do not produce enough tears or because the tears have a chemical imbalance. Dry eye often occurs during the natural aging process, but it can also form as a result of eyelid or blinking problems, certain medications, environment, injury, and various health problems.
In addition to being uncomfortable, dry eye syndrome can damage eye tissue, scar the cornea and impair vision. Dry eye syndrome is not preventable, but it can be controlled before harm is done to the eyes. Regular eye exams can detect dry eye early, even before symptoms become noticeable.