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Keratoconus

A condition characterized by abnormal corneal change in which the cornea gradually becomes thinned and conical, affects approximately one in 2000 people in the United States. The cornea is the eye’s outermost layer. It is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. When light enters the eye it must hit a smooth regular surface in order for it to project a clear image on the retina. When light hits an uneven irregular surface, as in Keratoconus, the image is distorted.

Soft contact lenses and glasses can improve vision in the early stages of Keratoconus. As the condition progresses, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses may be needed to obtain acceptable vision. In our practice we also like to use semi-scleral lenses. These lenses feel as comfortable as soft contact lenses on the eye and provide the visual quality of a rigid gas permeable lens. Until now, if contacts became difficult to wear, a corneal transplantation was the last resort.

Intacs® is a FDA-approved procedure for patients with Keratoconus. Intacs® can improve vision and reduce the distortion caused by Keratoconus. Insertion of Intacs® is a minor outpatient procedure performed within 10 minutes with little if any discomfort. This procedure has proven effective for thousands of patients.

See more about Keratoconus at National Keratoconus Foundation

Cataracts

A cataract is an opacity that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye or in its envelope. Early on in the development of senile cataract the power of the crystalline lens may be increased, causing nearsightedness, and the gradual yellowing and opacification of the lens may reduce the perception of blue colors. Cataracts typically progress slowly to cause vision loss.

 

Cataracts develop from a variety of reasons, including long-term ultraviolet exposure, secondary effects of diseases such as diabetes, or simply due to advanced age; they are usually a result of denaturation of lens proteins. Genetic factors are often a cause of congenital cataracts and positive family history may also play a role in predisposing someone to cataracts at an earlier age, a phenomenon of “anticipation” in pre-senile cataracts. Cataracts may also be produced by eye injury or physical trauma.

 

Although cataracts have no scientifically proven prevention, it is sometimes said that wearing ultraviolet-protecting sunglasses may slow the development of cataracts. Regular intake of antioxidants (such as vitamin C and E) is theoretically helpful, but this is also not proven. Bilberry extract shows promise in a rat model.

 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve. It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. It usually happens when the fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, damaging the optic nerve. Often there are no symptoms at first, but a comprehensive eye exam can detect it.

People at risk should get eye exams at least every two years. They include:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • People over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

Early treatment can help protect your eyes against vision loss. Treatments usually include prescription eye drops and/or surgery.

Diabetic Retinopathy

The ‘retina’ is the film at the back of your eye, like the film in a camera. Light enters the eye and then passes through the eye to reach the retina. The messages about what you see are then passed on to the brain.

Retinopathy is the name given to ‘disease of the retina’. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels of the retina leak blood and other substances into the retina. Blindness from retinopathy can in theory be prevented. This can be done by regular eye checks and good blood sugar control.