Regular eye exams are a very important part of early detection of ocular diseases including glaucoma and macular degeneration.
All of our optometrists administer comprehensive eye exams, emergency eye exams, contact lens exams, diabetic eye exams, myopia prevention & pre and post surgical assessments.
COMPREHENSIVE EYE EXAM
A comprehensive eye exam assesses the visual system and the overall health of the eye. It involves testing the visual acuity and how the eyes are working together, checking the glasses prescription, and diagnosing for eye diseases. A comprehensive eye exam is recommended yearly for those under 19 years of age and those over 65 and every 2 years for adults in between. A child’s first eye exam is recommended as early as 6 months of age.
Occular Health Conditions That May Be Detected During an Eye Exam
Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. It causes blurred vision, decreased contrast, and glare around lights. It is often associated with age but can occur in younger individuals using certain medications (ie. steroids) or having certain medical conditions (ie. Diabetes). Cataracts are one of the conditions that we look for at your comprehensive eye exam. Once they start to interfere with your vision, cataract surgery can be discussed. Cataract surgery, performed by an ophthalmologist, is a relatively safe procedure that removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens for improved vision.
Glaucoma is a progressive disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. It often has no symptoms in the first stages but can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated early. These changes are difficult to detect by simply looking into the eye so we rely on non-invasive imaging techniques for better visualization. We use an OCT scan, to look for changes to the fibers of the optic nerve, in combination with a visual field test, to look for peripheral vision loss, to detect glaucoma early. Once glaucoma is diagnosed, treatment is aimed at lowering the pressure in the eye through the use of eye drops or surgery.
Age Related Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration is a disease that damages the macula (the area of the retina involved in central vision). As the name suggests, it typically occurs later in life and can cause loss or distortion of the central vision. Since macular degeneration affects the deeper layers of the retina that aren’t as easy to visualize, we use an OCT scan to image each layer. This allows us to compare the scans from each exam so that subtle changes can be detected sooner. Macular degeneration has two forms: dry and wet. In the dry form, there is loss of retinal cells and macular thinning which ultimately leads to vision loss. It typically progresses slowly and there is no treatment. In the wet form, new blood vessels form that are fragile and leak. This bleeding can happen quickly so frequent monitoring is required. It is treated with an injection of medication into the eye by an ophthalmologist.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina or growth of new abnormal blood vessels that can leak. Early diabetic retinopathy may have no symptoms but more advanced disease can cause decreased vision from retinal swelling or a retinal detachment. We use scans that visualize each of the 10 layers of the retina and ultra-widefield images to look for these changes. The best way to prevent diabetic eye complications is to keep blood sugar levels under control and to have a dilated retinal exam at least once a year.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Conjunctivitis (or pink eye) is an inflammation of the clear membrane that lines the white part of the eye and the eyelids. It causes redness, discharge, burning, or itching and is often very contagious. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergies and treatment is different depending on the cause. We prescribe antibiotic drops for bacterial infections and antihistamine or anti-inflammatory drops for allergic. Viral conjunctivitis, however, has no specific treatment.
Myopia (or nearsightedness) occurs when light focuses in front of the retina rather than on it. This occurs because the cornea bends light too much or the eye is too long. Individuals with myopia have difficulty seeing distant objects clearly.
Hyperopia (or farsightedness) occurs when light focuses behind the retina rather than on it. This occurs because the cornea bends light too little or the eye is too short. Individuals with hyperopia may have difficulty seeing near objects clearly or may have symptoms of near strain and frontal headaches. Low amounts of hyperopia in young individuals do not always require correction since they may be able to use their own focusing ability to compensate for it.
Astigmatism occurs when light focuses at two different points in the eye. This occurs because the cornea or lens has an irregular shape. Individuals with astigmatism have difficulty seeing objects at all distances clearly and may see elongated or shadowed images. It is often accompanied by myopia or hyperopia.
Presbyopia occurs when the eye’s ability to focus on near objects decreases. It is a natural part of aging and occurs because the lens inside the eye loses its elasticity and ability to change shape. Individuals with presbyopia have a gradual decrease in near vision and often have to move reading material further away to focus. It typically begins in the mid 40’s and gradually declines until there is little to no focusing ability remaining without the help of a reading add.