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Understanding Vision Problems -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Vision Problems? continued...

To treat farsightedness that does not resolve itself naturally, glasses or contact lenses can be prescribed. People typically seek treatment for farsightedness when they begin to complain of eyestrain, especially at the end of the day, or when they have trouble focusing while reading. LASIK can also be used to treat lower levels of farsightedness. Higher levels of farsightedness can only be surgically corrected with a refractive lens exchange -- the natural lens is replaced with an intraocular lens that is more powerful, thereby focusing the light on the retina.

To treat astigmatism, the accepted prescription is a lens that will correct or neutralize the effect of the uneven cornea. Again, you will typically have a choice between glasses and contact lenses. Surgery for astigmatism can include limbal relaxing incisions, LASIK, and toric intraocular lenses.

In cataracts, the eye's natural lens hardens and becomes cloudy, obscuring vision. Correcting the problem was once a complex procedure requiring general anesthesia and a week of hospitalization. Today, a process called "phacoemulsification" uses ultrasound to break up the cataract and remove the tiny lens fragments through an incision so small that it usually requires no stitches. Some people mistakenly call this laser cataract surgery. The surgeon then inserts an artificial lens implant. Local anesthesia is used and the patient goes home from an outpatient facility typically within an hour or two after surgery.

For macular degeneration, there is currently no cure for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but new treatments are sometimes able to prevent severe visual loss. Treatment depends on the type of AMD, but may include:

  • Injections of medication into the eye -- to prevent the formation of new, leaky blood vessels
  • Laser therapy -- to destroy abnormal blood vessels
  • Photodynamic therapy -- injection of medications that are activated by light exposure
  • Submacular surgery -- to remove blood under the retina, abnormal blood vessels or scar tissue
  • Retinal translocation -- surgical rotation of the damaged retinal tissue away from the macula
  • Low-vision aids -- to help people with partial vision make the most of their remaining vision. These devices have special lenses or electronic systems that magnify images so they can be seen by the parts of the retina that are still functioning.
  • Vitamins -- to help reduce or delay the risk of severe vision loss. Some evidence suggests that certain vitamins and antioxidants -- vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc -- may help. However, more current research replaced beta-carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin with similar results.

Other ways to protect your eyes from AMD include the following:

  • Eating vegetables high in carotenoids, such as spinach and collard greens
  • Wearing sunglasses with an ultraviolet filter when outdoors
  • Not smoking
  • Having regular visits to an eye care specialist to detect AMD and other eye diseases in the early stages

WebMD Medical Reference

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