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Ophthalmology’s Greatest Hits

In a recent poll, ophthalmologists were asked to list the five most significant developments in our field over the past 25 years. As a practicing ophthalmologist during this entire time, here’s my list of ophthalmology’s greatest hits:

• State-of-the art cataract surgery
• Treatment of macular degeneration
• Treatment of diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy)
• Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma
• Treatment of dry eyes

In upcoming articles, I’ll describe these innovations in more detail.

To be included on my list, a development must benefit the most people in the most significant ways – prevention and treatment of blindness, reduction of pain and suffering, and improvement in quality of life.

It may be hard to imagine in our first-world country, but cataracts are still the leading cause of blindness throughout the world. Millions of Americans annually undergo the highly successful 10-minute outpatient surgical removal of cataracts. Good vision lessens the chance of falls and automobile accidents, and vastly improves quality of life for senior citizens.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over age 65. It used to be a dreaded disease with no treatment, but simple outpatient treatments can maintain good vision for years.

New treatments for diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy) have reduced the risk of blindness dramatically over the last several decades. When was the last time you saw a Seeing Eye dog?

Newer diagnostic and treatment options for glaucoma have vastly improved patients’ quality of life. Public awareness of the need for routine eye exams to detect glaucoma and other serious diseases is at an all-time high.

Dry Eye Disease is not discussed much, but is a very significant cause of chronic irritation, discomfort and poor vision. We’ll discuss new developments in a future article.

February 1. 2016