Detecting Eye Diseases and Conditions
Treatment of Cataracts
For early cataracts, these steps may help:
- Getting a new eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Using brighter lighting
- Using magnifying lenses
- Wearing sunglasses
If cataracts interfere with everyday activities, your doctor will probably recommend surgery. Surgical cataract removal is one of the most common, safest, and most effective types of surgery done in the U.S. Delaying cataract surgery until it interferes with your quality of life is appropriate and won't harm your eyes.
If you choose surgery, you'll be referred to an ophthalmologist who can perform the surgery (if you don't already have a doctor you trust). During the procedure, the eye surgeon removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial clear lens. If both eyes need cataract surgery, surgery will generally be done one eye at a time separated by a time interval felt appropriate by your surgeon.
Ways to Prevent Cataracts
You may help delay cataract development by:
- Avoiding overexposure to sunlight; wear wraparound sunglasses with ultraviolet protection and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Not smoking
Diabetic Eye Disease
People with diabetes are at risk for developing several eye diseases:
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease in people with diabetes. It affects over 5 million Americans ages 18 and older. Usually both eyes develop the disease. Diabetic retinopathy progresses in four stages. The most severe is proliferative retinopathy.
Damaged blood vessels due to diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss and blindness two ways:
- Fluid leaks into the center of the retina, called the macula. This area of the retina is where central vision takes place. The fluid causes the macula to swell, blurring vision.
- In proliferative retinopathy, new and abnormal blood vessels grow. These vessels blur vision by leaking blood into the center of the eye and causing scar tissue, and that can lead to retinal detachment.
Who's at Risk for Diabetic Eye Disease?
Everyone with diabetes, type 1 and type 2, is at risk for diabetic eye disease. The longer you have diabetes, the more your risk grows. According to the National Eye Institute, up to 45% of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy.
One problem with identifying yourself as being at risk is that proliferative retinopathy and macular swelling can develop without any symptoms. Sometimes vision remains unaffected as the eye disease progresses. Nevertheless, your risk of eventual vision loss is high - one reason why routine eye exams are necessary.