Common Eye Conditions
What is Macular Degeneration?
The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when the arteries that nourish the retina harden. Deprived of nutrients, the retinal tissues begin to weaken and die, causing vision loss. Patients may experience anything from a blurry, gray or distorted area to a blind spot in the center of vision.
Macular degeneration doesn’t cause total blindness because it doesn’t affect the peripheral vision. Possible risk factors include genetics, age, diet, smoking and sunlight exposure. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- A gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted or blurry vision
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision
There are two kinds of AMD: wet (neovascular/exudative) and dry (non-neovascular). About 10-15% of people with AMD have the wet form. “Neovascular” means “new vessels.” Accordingly, wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow into the retina as the eye attempts to compensate for the blocked arteries. These new vessels are very fragile, and often leak blood and fluid between the layers of the retina. This leakage can distort vision and form scar tissue that will appear as a dark spot in the patient’s vision.
Dry AMD is much more common than wet AMD. Patients with this type of macular degeneration do not experience new vessel growth. Instead, symptoms include thinning of the retina, loss of retinal pigment and the formation of small, round particles inside the retina called drusen. Vision loss with dry AMD is slower and often less severe than with wet AMD.
Recent developments in ophthalmology allow doctors to treat many patients with early-stage AMD with the help of lasers and medication.
What is a Pterygium?
A pterygium is a benign growth of the conjunctiva (lining of the white part of the eye) that grows into the cornea, which covers the iris (colored part of the eye). Initial symptoms may include the appearance of a lesion on the eye or dry, itchy irritation. Other symptoms include redness, irritation, inflammation, and tearing. In more severe cases, the Pterygium grows over the pupil and limits vision.
The most common Pterygium treatment is eye drops (artificial tears and anti-inflammatories) and use of sunglasses. In more severe cases when vision is impaired, surgery may be recommended. In the event of an ocular surface reconstruction surgery, Dr. Allaman uses amniotic membrane tissue called Prokera to accelerate the recovery process as well as reduce pain that may result from the surgery.
To learn more about pterygium recovery and Prokera by BioTissue, click on the image below.
What is a Retinal Tear or Retinal Detachment?
The vitreous is a clear liquid that fills our eyes and gives them shape. As we age, the vitreous thins and separates from the retina. Although this usually results in nothing more than a few harmless floaters, tension from the detached vitreous can sometimes tear the retina.
If liquid seeps through the tear and collects behind the retina or between its nerve layers, the retinal tear can become a retinal detachment. Retinal detachment can cause significant, permanent vision loss and requires immediate medical treatment.
There are three kinds of retinal detachment. The most common form, described above, occurs when fluid leaks into the retina; people who are nearsighted or who have had an injury or eye surgery are most susceptible. Less frequently, friction between the retina and vitreous or scar tissue pulls the retina loose, something that occurs most often in patients with diabetes. Third, disease-related swelling or bleeding under the retina can push it away from the eye wall.
Signs of retinal tear or detachment include flashes of light, a group or web of floaters, wavy or watery vision, a sense that there is a veil or curtain obstructing peripheral vision, or a sudden drop in vision quality. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Early treatment is essential to preserve your vision and is usually done through laser and cryoprobe procedures.