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Early Detection Critical to Treating Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a major cause of vision loss worldwide. It affects more than 3 million people in the United States – nearly half of whom are unaware they have the disease. During Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, the Coastal Jersey Eye Center joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in reminding the public that early detection and treatment can help protect your sight.

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. Typically, the disease initially has no signs or symptoms. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause irreversible blindness.

The Academy recommends that everyone have a comprehensive eye exam at age 40. This exam provides ophthalmologists an opportunity to examine the eye, including the optic nerve, for signs of damage and other problems that may affect vision. Individuals at greater risk for glaucoma include people:

• over age 40;
• of African, Asian or Hispanic heritage;
• who have high eye pressure detected during an eye exam;
• who are farsighted or nearsighted;
• who have experienced eye trauma or eye injury;
• whose corneas are thin in the center;
• or who have diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure or poor blood circulation.

Treatment for glaucoma often involves medicated eye drops or laser treatments, which work by lowering eye pressure to reduce the amount of fluid in the eye, and by increasing fluid outflow from the eye.

“Glaucoma is typically symptomless to patients; however, permanent, irreversible vision loss can already be taking place,” said Andrew G. Iwach, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Early detection is paramount to avoiding blindness and managing this disease.”

“Treatment is safe, effective and convenient,” said Dr. Stephen Uretsky of the Coastal Jersey Eye Center, “and the diagnosis is simple to make during an office visit.”

February 10, 2017

Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)

Burning, stinging, redness, scratchiness and eye pain are some of the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome (DES). DES is an important health problem that can have significant effects on quality-of-life.

Millions of Americans suffer from DES. About 6% of women under 50 and 10% over 75 are affected. Younger women and men are also affected. A recent survey found that DES sufferers are 3 times more likely to have trouble driving, reading and using a computer.

One of the most common symptoms is excessive tearing. You might ask: How can the eye be ‘dry’ despite producing tears? Reflex tearing (tearing when something flies in the eye), for example, is the body's unsuccessful attempt to correct the underlying dryness.

There may be many causes of DES, but most cases are due to aging, eyelid infections (blepharitis) and autoimmune disorders (Sjogren’s Syndrome). Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyelids that causes chronic redness and prevents the eyelids from producing important components of the tear film, aggravating DES symptoms.

The mainstay treatment is Restasis which is safe, and allergic reactions are rare. Omega 3 supplements also help alleviate symptoms when used with Restasis. Treatment of other associated conditions, including blepharitis, is also necessary. Artificial tears are used for minor symptoms.

January 5, 2017

Regular Checkups Can Save Your Vision!

A recent Harris poll commissioned by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) found that although 64 percent of respondents reported having one or more vision problems, only 13 percent had an eye exam.

The poll respondents reported blurry or double vision, difficulty seeing at night, problems reading, seeing flashes of light and red, watery eyes – all possible indications of diseases that could lead to vision loss or blindness.

We are all prone to develop eye problems as we age. Symptoms often appear gradually, and at first may not seem serious enough to see a doctor. Regular eye checkups, especially after age 40, are important in order to detect problems in their earliest stages when treatment is most successful.

Common age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can be detected with an eye exam. The AAO recommends routine eye exams every 1-2 years after age 50 even if no problems exist.

Your ophthalmologist will use dilating eyedrops to widen your pupils in order to see the inside of your eyes. These usually take 20 to 30 minutes to take effect, so expect to be in the office for at least one hour.

Dilated eyes are more sensitive to sunlight and won’t be able to focus as well for several hours. Be sure to bring your sunglasses. Many people prefer to have a friend or family member drive them home. If you have questions about the procedure, be sure to ask your ophthalmologist.

December 5, 2016