At Blue Sky Vision-Three Rivers, our doctors are experienced at treating eye diseases and conditions for patients at any age. For many eye diseases, patients may not display obvious symptoms until they have become advanced.
Some eye diseases or conditions may have treatment options available that slow down or manage their progress, but will not cure them.
What are the Most Common Eye Diseases & Conditions?
Some of the most common eye diseases and conditions include the following:
Though a refractive error is not technically an “eye disease” they are incredibly common. Having a refractive error means that light cannot focus correctly onto the retina because of the shape of the eye.
The most common refractive errors are nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Nearsightedness (myopia) means that someone has difficulty seeing something far away clearly.
Farsightedness (hyperopia) means that they have difficulty seeing something right in front of them. Astigmatism means that someone has distorted vision because their cornea is an irregular shape.
Presbyopia is not a refractive error that you can be born with. Instead, it occurs as a result of aging and the lens of the eye becoming less flexible over time. Presbyopia makes it harder to see things that are at an arm’s length away.
Rather than referring to a single disease, glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that affect the optic nerve. Glaucoma occurs because of an increase in the eye’s intraocular pressure.
Too much pressure in the eye leads to permanent damage of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a key part of the eye since it is how visual information travels from the eye to the brain. If the optic nerve suffers damage, it is irreversible.
Dry Eye Syndrome
If you have ever had dry, irritated, or itchy eyes, you could have experienced the symptoms of dry eye syndrome firsthand. Dry eye syndrome is very common and occurs because the eye is unable to produce enough quality tears. Without enough tears, the eye cannot be lubricated or nourished, leading to debilitating symptoms.
Healthy tears are a necessary part of keeping the front of the eye healthy and for providing clear vision. Tears should be made of three layers: oil, water, and mucus.
If any of these components are missing from the tears, the tears will not be able to nourish the eye or spread evenly over the eye.
Macular degeneration causes deterioration of the macula. The macula is located at the center of the retina contains light-sensing cells.
For patients with macular degeneration, it damages their central vision progressively. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and affects more than 10 million Americans.
As macular degeneration advances, patients experience wavy or blurred vision. If it continues worsening, it may lead to the total loss of central vision.
Cataracts develop most often because of age. They can develop in other circumstances such as trauma or be something you are born with.
Cataracts usually occur in people who are 65 years old or older. Cataracts develop when the natural lens of the eye becomes clouded.
Over time, this leads to vision distortion, blurry vision, or even blindness. The only way to effectively treat cataracts is by removing them during surgery.
Diabetic Eye Disease
This refers to eye conditions that occur because a patient has diabetes. This can be either type 1 or type 2.
Diabetic eye disease includes conditions like cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, and glaucoma.
How Can You Tell if You Have an Eye Disease or Condition?
Often, many of the most common eye diseases or conditions will not come with any noticeable or obvious symptoms to watch out for. For eye diseases like glaucoma, your best line of defense is to have annual eye exams.
An optometrist can perform these eye exams and diagnose patients with eye conditions before they cause visual impairment. If you experience any of the following symptoms, let your eye doctor know:
- Sudden light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
- Discharge that is either mucus or clear colored
- Experiencing a foreign body sensation in your eye
- Redness in the white part of the eye
How are Eye Diseases Treated?
Treatment options vary depending on the eye disease that is being treated. Common treatments include glasses, contact lenses, medication, eye drops, and surgical procedures. Dr Fritz can manage your eye diseases and may refer you to an ophthalmologist if surgical intervention is necessary.
Here are some of the ways that the most common eye diseases are treated:
Treating Refractive Errors
There are several ways you can treat refractive errors. Most commonly, people will wear glasses or contacts for vision correction.
They may also decide to explore options like LASIK for permanent vision correction. LASIK works by reshaping the cornea and correcting refractive errors. There are other vision correction procedures available, such as PRK, for individuals that are not LASIK candidates.
Treating and Managing Glaucoma
As there is no cure for glaucoma, patients with this eye disease treat it to preserve their remaining vision. For many patients, eye drops to lower intraocular pressure are the best way to do this.
There are also surgical procedures if eye drops are not enough. These include the iStent, Trabeculectomy, MLT Micropulsed Diode Laser Trabeculoplasty, and Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty.
Treating Dry Eye Syndrome
With dry eye syndrome, most patients find relief through a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Patients with dry eye syndrome may try a combination of eye drops, artificial tears, and medications.
They may also try methods like punctal plugs or meibomian gland expression to unblock glands and to restimulate tear production.
Treating and Managing Macular Degeneration
This eye condition must be treated, as leaving it untreated will lead to vision loss. Patients with macular degeneration may try special eye vitamins and as the disease progresses may try injection therapy
Treatment of macular degeneration is the only way to avoid further progression of the disease.
With cataracts, the only way to effectively treat them is to remove them during cataract surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the eye’s natural lens.
After removing the lens, it is then replaced with an artificial lens or IOL. Removing the lens and replacing it with an IOL is the only way that patients can regain clear vision.
Treating Diabetic Eye Disease
The first step when treating diabetic eye disease is keeping blood sugar, blood pressure, and glucose levels stable. Beyond the first step, treating diabetic eye disease has three options which include laser treatment, Eylea, Avastin, or Lucentis injection, or intravitreal steroids.
The treatment your eye doctor chooses depends on which condition or eye disease you have besides diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease often develops concurrently with conditions like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or cataracts.
When it comes to treating eye diseases, it is important to diagnose and treat them early on. At Blue Sky Vision-Three Rivers, Dr. Fritz has the experience patients are looking for.