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Supporting Your Eye Health
Marshall Ophthalmology offers comprehensive eye exams to discover early signs of disease or changes in your vision. For children and adults, eye exams are one of the most important things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and functioning.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all adults receive a baseline eye exam at age 40. Identifying the signs of eye disease early gives your doctor the best chance to help preserve your vision.
Some people shouldn’t wait until they are 40 to have a comprehensive eye exam. If you have an eye disease or risk factors for developing one, you should get a comprehensive exam earlier.
Risk factors for eye disease:
- High blood pressure
- Family history of eye disease
If you are 60 or older, yearly exams are recommended to screen for age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Talk to your eye care professional to decide when a comprehensive eye exam is right for you.
Healthy eyes for every age
Marshall Ophthalmology offers a comprehensive approach to vision health by offering both adult and pediatric eye exams along with extensive treatment options.
When to have your vision tested
Children 3 years and younger
For children 3 years and younger, pediatricians look for the most common eye problems including lazy eye, crossed eyes or misaligned eyes. If your pediatrician has any concerns, your child will likely be referred to an eye specialist for a more thorough examination. Your child could undergo a more comprehensive eye exam between the ages of 3 and 5.
School-age children and adolescents
It's a good idea to have your child's eyes examined before first grade. If your child has no symptoms and no family history of vision problems, have his or her vision rechecked every one to two years upon the advice of your eye doctor.
If you have no vision problems and no family history of eye disease, please follow the general examination guidelines below. As always, check with your eye doctor for his or her recommendation.
- Every five to 10 years in your 20s and 30s
- Every two to four years from 40 to 54
- Every one to three years from 55 to 64
- Every one to two years after age 65
Have your eyes checked more often if you:
- Wear glasses or contact lenses
- Have a family history of eye disease or loss of vision
- Have a chronic disease that puts you at greater risk of eye disease, such as diabetes
- Take medications that may cause eye side effects
While ophthalmologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of medical eye conditions, we are well equipped to care for healthy eyes, too. We have the tools to measure you for glasses and contact lenses.
Are you at risk for Diabetic Retinopathy?
If you have diabetes, the answer is yes, you could be at risk for diabetic retinopathy, a disease which damages the retina causing vision impairment.
Uncontrolled blood sugar that is too high for too long blocks off the small blood vessels that keep the retina healthy. The eye responds by trying to grow new blood vessels, however these new vessels don't develop well and instead, leak fluid into your retina resulting in compromised vision.
Over time, scar tissue builds up, putting pressure on your retina. This extra pressure can cause your retina to detach or lead to other issues such as glaucoma that may result in blindness.
Risk factors for diabetic retinopathy
Your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy depends on several factors including:
- How long you've been diabetic
- How often your blood glucose fluctuates
- How well your sugars are controlled
Dr. Martin can discuss your individual risk factors and develop a screening protocol that will help prevent the development of the disease or control it if you've already been diagnosed.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy
Often, diabetic retinopathy does not cause major disturbances in vision until it has progressed. You may notice:
- The loss of central vision when you read or drive
- The inability to see colors
- Blurry vision
- Holes or black spots
Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy
During a comprehensive eye exam, Dr. Martin will dilate your eyes and examine changes in the blood vessels of they eye. She will also study the retina to see if it is swollen or detached.
Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy
If you've been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, there are several treatment options available including laser, injection, and surgery. Dr. Martin will discuss which options might be right for you.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is often a genetic disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. A build up of pressure in the eye called intraocular pressure (IOP), damages the optic nerve which transmits images to your brain. If left untreated, the damage worsens and can cause permanent vision loss within a few years.
There are two types of glaucoma: open-angled glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
Open-angled glaucoma. This is the most common type of glaucoma in which the drainage system in your eye (trabecular meshwork) does not allow fluid to drain appropriately.
Angle-closure glaucoma. In this type of glaucoma, the drain space between the iris and cornea becomes too narrow causing a build up of fluid in the eye.
Risk factors for glaucoma
- Over 40 years old
- Are of African American, Russian, Irish, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit, or Scandanavian descent
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have diabetes
- Take certain steroid medications
- Have had trauma to the eye
- Have poor vision
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
During a comprehensive eye exam, your ophthalmologist will put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils allowing her to observe your optic nerve. Photographs may be taken to help track the progression of the disease over time. Tonometry, or eye pressure test, allows Dr. Martin to check the pressure of your eye. And finally a visual field test may be conducted to determine if you have any peripheral vision loss.
Glaucoma exams, quick and painless. Most people with glaucoma have no symptoms and no pain, therefore regular, comprehensive eye exams are critical to the identification, and treatment of the disease.
What treatment options are available for Glaucoma?
There are a variety of modalities available to address and slow the progression of glaucoma. Eye drops, laser surgery, traditional surgery, pills or a combination of these options may be used to prevent or slow the loss of vision related to glaucoma. Dr. Martin can discuss which method is best for the your condition and lifestyle.
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. When this occurs, things tend to look foggy or blurry.
Eyeglasses or contact lenses are used to correct slight refractive errors caused by early cataracts. More advanced cataracts often require surgery to sharpen vision.
Risk factors for cataracts
- Certian medications such as steroids
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light
If blurred/foggy vision begins to impact your quality of life, affect your ability to drive, or see clearly at night, cataract surgery may necessary. Cataract surgery has an extremely high success rate and is currently the only effective cataract treatment. Dr. Martin can help determine if cataract surgery is right for you.
Modern cataract surgery is a quick, relatively painless procedure that often provides immediate vision correction. Benefits include:
- Outpatient procedure that takes less than 20 minutes.
- No general anesthesia. Anesthetic eye drops are used to numb the eye and intravenous medications may be used to sedate you to ensure that you feel no pain and are relaxed during the procedure.
- Microscopic incision that usually heals without stitches.
- Intraocular lens implantation that often eliminates the need to wear glasses for distance and/or near.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) occurs in people over the age of 60 and is the leading cause of permanent vision loss.
As we age, the light sensing nerve tissue of the eye or macula, is vulnerable to deterioration. This break down of the macula can cause blind spots, dim vision and blind spots.
There are two different kinds of macular degeneration - dry and wet form.
Dry form macular degeneration often presents as yellow deposits in the macula. While a few of these deposits may not change vision, people often notice a dimming in their eyesight as the deposits grow in size and number over time.
In the later stages of the disease, the light-sensitive layer of cells begins to thin which causes blind spots in central vision. In the most advanced cases of macular degeneration, patients lose central vision. Certain vitamin supplements have been shown to decrease your risk of progression to severe vision loss if you have developed significant dry macular degeneration.
The wet form macular degeneration involves an abnormal growth of blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macula. These blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina distorting vision, causing blind spots and loss of central vision. Over time, the retina scars leading to permanent loss of central vision. Recently, injectable medications have been developed to treat wet macular degeneration restoring vision to patients.
Who is at risk for developing macular degeneration?
There are several risk factors involved in the development of macular degeneration. You may be more likely to develop the disease if you are:
- over the age of 60
- have a familly history of macular degeneration
- have high blood pressure
- have high cholesterol
- are obese
- are light skinned and female
- have light eye color.
As we age, our skin gradually loses elasticity. The loss of elasticity combined with the constant pull of gravity, eventually leads to drooping and sagging skin on and under our eyes. In some instances, drooping upper eyelids can interfere with eyesight.
Dr. Martin performs blepharoplasty to improve eyesight by removing the excess skin from the upper eyelids.
Small incisions are made along the lash lines allowing the surgeon to remove the excess fat and skin. Tiny stitches are then used to close the incisions and will be removed in five to ten days. Swelling and bruising are common, but most people make a full recovery from the surgery within a week a few weeks.
It is important to note that blepharoplasty does not remove wrinkles, eliminate dark circles, crow's feet or other facial wrinkles.
Other Eyelid Surgeries
Dr. Martin is experienced in the treatment of other problems that can also occur as a result of age including entropion (in-turning of the eyelid) and ectropion (out-turning of the eyelid). She is also trained in the diagnosis and treatment of lesions on the eyelid and around the eye, both benign and malignant. If you notice any eyelid problems, schedule your appointment for further evaluation and discussion of your treatment options.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Millions of people suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome, a condition that results from a deficiency in the oily lipid layer of the eye's tear film. Without this layer, eyes can dry out more quickly leading to dry eye symptoms.
You may suffer from dry eye syndrome if you have any of the following issues:
- Irritated eyes
- Burning eyes
- Red eyes
- Tired eyes after working on a computer, phone or reading
- Fluctuating blurred vision
How is Dry Eye Syndrome treated?
The first line of therapy is artificial tears, gels, gel inserts, and ointments. They offer temporary relief and provide an important replacement for naturally produced tears in patients with aqueous tear deficiency. Avoid artificial tears with preservatives if you need to apply them more than four times a day.
Another option is to plug the small circular openings at the inner corners of the eyelids where tears drain from the eye into the nose. Punctal plugs can be inserted as a reversible measure or punctal cautery can be performed to permanently close the drainage holes. These procedures help keep the limited volume of tears on the eye for a longer period of time.
Cyclosporine is a prescription drug available to treat dry eye. It increases basic tear production and reduces eye inflammation. It may take up to three to six months for the medication to work.
Xiidra is another prescription drug FDA approved to treat the signs and symptoms of dry eye. Xiidra has been shown to have beneficial effects in just two weeks.
In some patients with dry eye, supplements or dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids may improve symptoms. The use and dosage should be discussed with your primary medical doctor.
Other things patients can do include: avoiding dry conditions, when possible; wearing glasses or sunglasses that fit close to the face (wrap around shades) or that have side shields to help slow tear evaporation; using a humidifier to add moisture to the air; and allowing eyes to rest and using lubricating products when performing activities that require the use of the eyes for extended periods of time.
Come in today to see which options are right for you. For more information about dry eye, check out Shannon's Dry Eye blog post.
What to do when you have an eye emergency
The eye is a delicate organ which can be easily damaged leading to vision impairment or even vision loss. Marshall Ophthalmology is medically equipped to evaluate and handle most eye-related emergencies. However, in some cases it may be necessary to head to the Emergency Room at your nearest hospital.
Dr. Martin can help determine if you should come to the office or go to the hospital. Please call us at 269-781-4018.
Eye emergencies include:
- Foreign body in the eye
- Exposure to chemicals
- Injury to the eye
- Certain eye infections
- Medical conditions such as blood clots or glaucoma