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Navy Medicine > Naval Health Clinic Annapolis > Optometry Clinic > Eye Health Problems

Cataracts– Cataract formation is a common change in the eyes of the elderly. They are not a disease, though as a cataract matures, it causes a clouding of the lens inside the eye degrading vision and muting colors.  They may also cause glare and halos at night. Glasses will not correct cataracts. If a cataract effects vision enough, a cataract surgeon will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial clear lens, restoring potential vision.

People with cataracts experience generalized blur and muting of colors

Diabetes –When people are diagnosed with diabetes, the most common form is Diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is characterized by elevated blood glucose levels resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin affectivity, or both. Anyone with a history of Diabetes or suspected to be pre-diabetic should have annual eye exams. This is because Diabetes has the potential to damage vision. An eye exam allows the doctor to directly look at the blood vessels inside the eye and evaluate for diabetic changes of the vessels.

For further reading, please visit: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy.asp

Hypertension- Hypertension is a well understood condition by the majority of the public. High blood pressure can affect the eyes and vision, so anyone with this condition or who is being treated for this condition should have annual eye exams with dilation.

Dry Eye Syndrome- Dry eyes are problematic in a large percentage of the population. Symptoms can be mild and almost unnoticeable to severe. Most patients complain of one or more of the following: burning, tearing, stinging, sharp pain, foreign body sensation, redness, contact lens intolerance and vision blur. Dryness can result from a large variety of reasons, though it is most frequently associated with an inadequate production of tears (aqueous deficiency), or an unbalanced consistency of tears produced (meibommian gland dysfunction). An underlying systemic condition or hormonal changes could also be the root cause of ocular dryness. Luckily, there exists a wide range of treatment options for dry eye patients.
For more reading on Dry Eye Syndrome: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye.asp#2

Conjunctivitis - Conjunctivitis is also known as "pink eye". There are many different reasons why the eye may be red and irritated; some examples include a bacterial eye infection, a viral infection, uveitis, contact lens overwear, or allergies. Symptoms usually include burning, irritation, redness, tearing, discharge, or crusting of the lashes. All pink eyes should be evaluated to determine the appropriate treatment.

Uveitis - Uveitis is an inflammatory disorder of the eye. Patients will complain of reduced vision, red eyes at the colored margin of the iris, severe light sensitivity and ocular discomfort. Usually uveitis only affects one eye and is an isolated event. If both eyes have inflammation or if one eye has recurrent inflammation, patients will have a blood work up to rule out autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus or sarcoidosis. All suspected uveitis cases should be seen same day as onset of symptoms for treatment.

Glaucoma- Glaucoma is a slowly progressing disease of the optic nerve. The nerve gets damaged and patients begin to lose their peripheral vision. Since this disease may take years to progress, most patients do not notice field of vision loss and may go undetected for a long time. There are many ways a person can develop glaucoma, but most treatments are with the use of topical eye drops to lower “eye pressure”. Glaucoma management is highly variable and has a range from drops to eye surgery depending on how advanced the disease is. Risk of Glaucoma is evaluated with a comprehensive eye exam including dilation.

Glaucoma affects your peripheral vision
Age Related Macular Degeneration- Age Related Macular Degeneration, or ARMD is an age related disease that affects the macula, or the 20/20 seeing part of the eye. Most patients will complain of reduced vision, distorted vision, or spots of vision missing. This disease usually begins in one eye, and eventually incorporates both eyes. There are two forms of ARMD- Dry and Wet. “Dry” means without leaking blood vessels, and “Wet” means with leaking blood vessels. Currently, there is no medical treatment for DRY ARMD. Only vitamin supplements, UV protection and cessation of smoking with annual exams to monitor the condition are recommended. The Dry form can convert into the WET form and this transformation results in a dramatic increase in symptoms, and potential eye damage can be severe. These patients are seen by a retina specialist for treatment which usually consists of eye injections with medicine to treat the blood vessels.

ARMD affects central vision first. An example of Amsler Grid distortion from ARMD.

Floaters- Floaters are little specks in your vision that move with your eyeballs and are usually confused with flies or dust in the air. Most floaters are normal visual changes as a result of the degeneration of the jelly-like substance inside your eye. They should not change in size, and will vary in how often they are noticed. They may be in one eye or both. Most adults starting in their 50’s will experience a sudden-onset very large floater in the middle of their vision. This is a normal change, and is expected in the aging population. If you have a sudden onset of floaters, or see flashes of light with this new change, you should have a dilated eye exam to make sure there are no adverse changes to the retina.


An example of floaters one might experience

Retinal Tear/Detachment - A retinal detachment happens when the retina tissue separates from the back part of the eye. Patients feel no pain, for there are no pain nerves inside your eye. Instead, they will complain of flashes of light, “raining” floaters, or a curtain or veil in front of their vision. Any suspected retinal tear or detachment is considered an emergency and should be seen as soon as possible for treatment.
     
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