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Ocular Disease Detection and Prevention

Ocular Disease Detection and Prevention
26.05.2020 | News

It may seem to speak for itself, but it cannot be overstated enough. The health of your eyes relies on the accuracy and comprehension that comes from your semi-annual or annual eye exam. While it may seem silly, every piece of equipment we use to examine your eyes serves a specific purpose in identifying, diagnosing, tracking, and treating over 240 different ocular disorders.

We use a few different pieces of equipment to get as detailed of a picture of your eye as we can. A lot of eye disorders can go unnoticed or be asymptomatic for years. If we have a chance of catching them early, it means you have more options for treatment and possible prevention. Here’s a quick breakdown of some key equipment and the roles they play in disease detection:

  • Optomap - Our optomap consists of an array of powerful cameras that can look through the pupil and into the inner eye. While older methods of this type of eye examination would require pupil dilation, which can be uncomfortable for some patients, the optomap doesn’t require dilation and provides a more precise digital map of your eye. The optomap looks for signs of retinal degenerations, retinal tears/breaks, and glaucoma, among several others. In the same room as our optomap, we actually have a cool poster of all the different diseases this special camera can help detect.

  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) - Our OCT is another set of powerful lasers that uses light waves to take a cross-section picture of your retina. This cross-section gives us a picture of the distinctive layers of the retina, measuring its thickness. The thickness of your retina can be key in diagnosing disorders like glaucoma and macular degeneration, not to mention giving our doctors the information they need in deciding and providing treatment options for these disorders.

  • Humphrey Visual Field Analyzer (HVFA) - The HVFA is a precise way to measure peripheral vision and look for any vision loss. While many patients may not see this machine during their visit, the HVFA is critical in pinpointing where vision loss occurs in your field of vision, as well as identifying any optic nerve or neurological issues.

  • Practical Eye Examination - In the traditional examination room setting, our docs will use a series of practical examination methods to look for disorders. These simple tests look for things like color anomalies/deficiencies, depth perception, and visual accuracy.

While your scheduled exam takes a lot of the heavy lifting for detecting and diagnosing ocular disorders, it’s our talented team of doctors who come up with plans for treatment. Treating different disorders means having a background understanding of the disorders we plan to treat and your medical history to make sure we’re providing the best, unique treatment options for you. We see a lot of different disorders and are well-prepared to treat the following (and the other 234 diseases not mentioned here!)

Cataracts

Affecting millions of people globally each year, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Essentially, cataracts are cloudiness in our natural lens. While lenses are supposed to be clear (giving us clear vision), cataracts cloud the lenses of our eyes and manifest as a haze or fog in our field of vision. It can get progressively worse over time and cause blindness if it goes untreated.

In early stages, it can be treated simply by using glasses with stronger prescriptions than what you may have used in the past. However, as cataracts progress, surgery is usually the most straightforward approach for treatment. With cataract-removal surgery, the surgeon removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial lens known as a plastic intraocular lens (IOL).

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a buildup of pressure in the front part of the eye. Eyes produce aqueous humor just behind the iris (in what’s called the ciliary body). Normally, this liquid helps regulate and stabilize the pressure in our inner eye. With glaucoma, the pressure in the eye is higher than the pressure in the arteries of the eye, due to the liquid not draining properly. When the pressure is too high, it can halt the nutrient delivery needed for cells, causing them to die off.

There are two types of glaucoma, both of which we explain in our main glaucoma article. While there is no cure, there are a variety of preventative measures and treatment options available. Obviously, the sooner we can recognize and diagnose glaucoma, the more options we have available to make it manageable. Medication, like prescribed eye drops, focuses on lowering the pressure of the inner eye and keeping it at a safe level. They do this by either reducing the amount of aqueous fluid produced or by helping the fluid flow better through the eye’s drainage angle, as it normally would.

It can also be treated with simple laser procedures that make the drainage angle work more effectively and more invasive procedures that focus on creating a new drainage channel. Glaucoma progression can also be slowed down with healthy dietary habits, like incorporating leafy greens into your daily diet.

As the name might suggest, the macula in your eye degenerates as you age. The macula is the central back wall of the retina and is responsible for color vision and focusing on fine details. When damaged, your central vision gets fuzzy and you might notice changes in your color perception or hues.

Like glaucoma, there are two types of AMD (dry and wet), both explained in our AMD-specific article. Presently, there is no way to treat dry AMD. However, studies suggest a combination of certain vitamins and supplements may slow down the progression. Wet AMD can be treated with the help of anti-VEFG medications. These medications reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and slow down any blood leaks. In some cases, laser surgery can be used to treat wet AMD.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is an eye disorder that affects the shape of the cornea. While a normal cornea takes a slightly domed shape, a cornea with keratoconus is thinned out and bulging, taking a protruded cone shape.

When a patient is affected by keratoconus, the cornea’s deformed shape results in blurry and distorted vision. It can also result in symptoms like light sensitivity and eye redness. Early stages of keratoconus can be treated with corrective lenses or custom contact lens options, like hard contacts and scleral contacts. More severe cases can require more invasive treatment options, like collagen cross-linking, intacs, and even corneal transplants.

While we specialize in detection and prevention of ocular disorders, there are some general things we can recommend at home, like eating healthy and exercising, that actually do wonders for your eyes. And remember to give your eyes a break after a while, too! If you work from home or are in front of a screen for extended periods of time, your eyes need time away from the screen to readjust to natural light and keep from getting dry and irritated. Finally, we’d be remiss not to mention how important an annual or semiannual comprehensive eye exam is.