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Ocular Health

1. Macular Degeneration

The macula is the point of the retina on which light rays are focused by the cornea and the lens of the eye. Like the film in a camera, the retina is responsible for transforming focused light into an image which the brain can process.

In macular degeneration, the macula (i.e., the part of the retina responsible for clear central vision) undergoes vascular changes that may cause loss of central vision. This condition is usually permanent and may progress if it goes undetected and untreated.

The symptoms of macular degeneration include:
•  gradual loss of clear central, or "straight-ahead," vision
•  distorted or wavy vision
•  gradual loss of color vision
•  a dark or empty area (i.e., "blind spot") in the center of your field of vision

2. Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye and this interferes with the normal passage of light rays to the retina. The result is a general dimming of vision. A cataract may be slow to develop but once it appears, it almost always continues to become more cloudy. Historically, cataracts have been the most common cause of loss of vision. The only treatment is to remove the clouded lens or cataract. Early forms of cataract surgery were often a difficult ordeal for the patient. Today modern medical advances have made cataract surgery one of the most successful forms of surgery. New surgical techniques can restore vision in 97% of all cases.

There is no known treatment such as diet, exercise, eye drops or laser technology that will clear up a cataract or prevent its formation. When a cataract has developed on the lens of the eye, the only way to restore clear vision is surgical removal of the lens and replacement with a permanent lens implant. Once a cataract has been removed, it will not come back.

3. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the country. It typically affects people over the age of forty. The early signs may occur when the passages that filter and exchange fluid from within the eye become blocked, causing the internal eye pressure to increase. Undiagnosed and untreated, this increased pressure may cause permanent damage to the optic nerve. The chances of developing glaucoma are increased when there is a family history of the disease, or when an individual is of African descent, very nearsighted, or has diabetes.

Glaucoma tends to develop gradually and without symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include minor blurring of vision, loss of central or peripheral vision, the appearance of colored rings around lights, and eye pain or dull headaches.

4. Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a condition in which the normally symmetrical, round corneal surface becomes cone shaped. This change in shape distorts light entering the eye and causes blurred vision. Early symptoms usually appear between the late teens and late twenties and result in reduced or distorted distance vision.

Early symptoms of Keratoconus may include:
•  blurred or distorted vision
•  increased light sensitivity
•  mild to severe nearsightedness and astigmatism

Diagnosis and Treatment
In the early stages of keratoconus, eyeglasses or contact lenses may be prescribed. Rigid, gas-permeable contact lenses may help correct vision as the disease progresses. In some cases where the cornea cannot be stabilized with contact lenses, a corneal transplant may be the treatment of choice.

5. Conjunctivitis

Itching Eyes : Itching is primarily caused by allergies, dry eye, or infection. If itching is assossiated with use of contact lenses, solutions, or any kind of eye drops, discontinue use of product and please call us to evaluate your situation.

Redness of the eye: "Pink Eye" may be developing when your eye gets red and can be evaluated at your convenience. However if the redness is accompanied with pain, blurred vision, swelling or light sensitivity you should be seen within a day. Also note if symptoms are only experienced in one eye,immediate action should be taken.

Foreign body/Trauma: Any foreign objects that may have entered the eye needs to be removed and the eye needs to be treated for possible infection. It is crucial to have your eyes examined after any form of trauma such as chemical burns, blunt trauma, blow out fracture, sports injuries.

Discharge: The type of discharge and the frequency of it is also an indication of how red eyes should be treated. Watery or teary eyes often indicate allergic reaction or dry eyes and a coloured,mucus-like discharge could be an indication of a bacterial infection.

6. Systemic Disease

Diabetes and Eye disease
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of sight-threatening eye problems that people with diabetes may develop as a complication of the disease. They include:

•  Diabetic retinopathy. This disease damages blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that translates light into electrical impulses that the brain interprets as vision.
•  Cataract. A cataract is an opacity of the eye's crystalline lens that results in blurring of normal vision. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop a cataract as someone who does not have the disease. In addition, cataracts tend to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes, around late middle age.
•  Glaucoma. This disease occurs when increased fluid pressure in the eye leads to progressive optic nerve damage. People with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to develop glaucoma as other adults

According to the National Eye Institute (USA), cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis is the most common cause of blindness in AIDS patients. Says Wendell P. Wong, M.D., an Advisory Council member of the Better Vision Institute (BVI), a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about eye health and vision care, CMV retinitis currently affects approximately 25 percent of AIDS patients. Fortunately, treatments that are now available for the infection help prolong vision and reduce the trauma of blindness

The Symptoms
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (USA) says that CMV retinitis may not cause symptoms if the affected regions are limited to the outer area of the retina. Since some patients do not experience symptoms, Dr. Wong strongly recommends a visit to an eye doctor. Once patients are diagnosed with AIDS they should see an eye doctor immediately. An ophthalmologist or optometrist can readily diagnose CMV retinitis by seeing the characteristic pattern of infection on the - more retina during an eye exam, and can also determine the stage, or level, at which a patient suffers from the eye infection.

Signs that may indicate the presence of CMV retinitis include light flashes, cloudy vision, multiple small floaters (dark spots that obstruct vision) and eventual loss of central or peripheral vision. Patients who notice these symptoms should see an eye doctor immediately.

When examining an AIDS patient, doctors may also notice an inflammation of or hemorrhaging within the retina (the light-sensing region that lines the back of the eye). Any damage to the retinal tissue will limit vision, and extensive impairment can cause total blindness

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