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Vision Loss

Are You Susceptible To Vision Loss?

Vision loss is more common than you may think! In fact, it’s among the most prevalent disabilities in adults and children. Knowing what puts you at risk of developing vision loss is important and can help you to be proactive about caring for your eyes.

Below, we’ll explore the most common causes of vision loss and the risk factors associated with each.

Spreading awareness and education about visual health is just one way that our eye doctors near you can help. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call us today.

Common Causes of Vision Loss

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by a buildup of pressure within the eye. Too much inner-eye pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.

Since symptoms don’t usually manifest in the early stages of glaucoma, getting regular eye exams is all the more crucial. Advanced or rapidly progressing glaucoma can show a variety of symptoms, such as blurred vision, headache, severe eye pain and redness, seeing halos around lights, and nausea.

Risk factors for developing glaucoma include:

  • Being 60 years or older
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • High myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Previous eye injury or certain eye surgeries
    • Certain medications, like corticosteroids
  • Thin corneas
  • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and sickle-cell anemia

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy. A healthy lens is clear and allows light to pass through it undisturbed.

Common cataract symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, light sensitivity, double vision in the affected eye, and seeing colors as faded or yellowish.

Risk factors for developing cataracts include:

  • Aging
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Previous eye surgery, injury, or inflammation
  • Alcoholism
  • Extended use of corticosteroids

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 60. It occurs when the macula (the small central portion of the retina, which is responsible for sharp, colorful, central vision) begins to wear down.

Early stages of AMD usually go unnoticed, but later stages of the disease can produce symptoms like blurred vision, dark or blurry areas in your central vision, and problems with color perception.

There’s not yet a cure for AMD, but certain treatments can help prevent vision loss.

Risk factors for developing AMD include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Aging
  • Long-term sun exposure
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of AMD
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Farsightedness

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes that affects the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye called the retina.

Initially, diabetic retinopathy shows no symptoms but can eventually lead to blindness. As it develops, it can cause increased floaters, impaired color vision, dark spots in your visual field, and blurred vision.

Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Length of time from diabetes diagnosis — the longer you’ve had it, the higher your chances of developing visual complications
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol or blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • African American, Hispanic, and Native American ethnicities
  • Family history of DR

So, what’s the bottom line ?

Multiple factors contribute to eye disease and vision loss, and some may even be relevant to you. If you think you may be at risk for vision loss or experience any of the symptoms listed above, speak with your eye doctor in Copperas Cove as soon as possible. We also recommend you have your eyes thoroughly examined every 1-2 years, or as often as your eye doctor recommends. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call Cove Eyecare today.

 

Frequently Asked Questions With Our Copperas Cove Eye Doctors

  1. Can blindness be prevented?

When caught early, many eye diseases can be treated to halt or slow the progression of the disease and potentially prevent vision loss. The best things you can do to preserve your vision for the long term is to lead a healthy lifestyle and make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years.

  1. Which eye diseases are genetically inherited?

More than 350 ocular diseases have some sort of genetic component. Certain diseases, like retinitis pigmentosa and albinism, are directly inherited through chromosomal information. In other cases, a predisposition to the disease is inherited, rather than the disease itself.

Vision Loss and What to Do

Cove Eyecare Local Eye clinic near you in Copperas Cove, Texas

According to recent NIH-funded studies, some of the statistics on vision loss may appear unbelievable, but they’re true:

  • The number of Americans who are legally blind (20/200 vision or worse) is estimated to be more than 1 million.
  • The number of Americans who have visual impairment, defined as 20/40 or worse with the best possible correction, is more than 3.2 million people – and rising.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis, Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Copperas Cove eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Local Eye Doctor near you in Copperas Cove, Texas

Most sight-threatening eye conditions do not present with anything more than very subtle symptoms during the early stage if any. That’s why a large percentage of people simply miss the early signs of vision loss.

However, early detection and timely treatment are critical for preventing complications, damage, and vision loss. Routine eye exams are the best way to catch a developing eye disease and treat it before symptoms occur, which is ideal. But, even between appointments, learning to recognize the subtle earliest signs of vision loss and booking an eye exam immediately with an eye doctor near you can play a part in keeping your eyesight sharp and healthy for as long as possible.

Let’s review 5 of the earliest signs and the best ways for you to respond:

Blurred Central Vision

When your central field of vision becomes fuzzy, it could indicate an eye condition. Blurry vision might be the result of something as innocuous as needing a higher prescription or might be a sign of a developing age-related eye disease like cataracts or even macular degeneration which can lead to severe vision loss. The easiest way for you to test your central vision for macular degeneration at home is by looking at an Amsler grid. If the straight lines appear wavy, call an optometrist near you to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. When detected at the beginning, some forms of macular degeneration are treatable.

Yellowing or Fading Color Vision

You may be amazed to learn that the healthy eye can discern more than 10 million different colors! However, this only holds true if your eyes are functioning normally and optimally. If you start to notice colors appear dimmer or faded or have a yellow tint, you could be experiencing early signs of vision loss from cataracts.

Vision with cataracts has been described as viewing the world through a fogged-up window. By the age of 80, more than 50% of all Americans will develop cataracts. Fortunately, cataract removal surgery is highly successful at restoring the ability to differentiate colors without compromising sharp vision. If you notice that colors appear less vibrant, visit an eye clinic near you.

Floaters and Flashes

The sudden appearance of flashes of light or many floaters – seen as transparent squiggly lines or dots gliding across your field of vision can indicate the need for an urgent eye exam. This “debris” in your eye, which doesn’t usually cause any pain, could be a sign of retinal detachment. Visit your eye care provider immediately if you notice recurring flashes of light or a bunch of new floaters. If you require a retinal detachment surgery, it can help restore your vision to full functionality.

Eye Pain

Recurrence of pain around the eye is the most common telltale indication of ocular damage after an eye injury or trauma. The pain may affect one or both eyes, be moderate or extreme, and it is typically felt on or behind the eye. A wide variety of reasons could be to blame, ranging from a corneal scratch to diabetic eye disease. Don’t just take OTC pain-relievers; consult an eye doctor near you for a professional diagnosis.

The normal, healthy pupil — that round circle in the middle of your eye, surrounded by the colored iris — is jet black. When white areas appear in the pupil, it’s not a good sign. It could be due to an eye infection or the development of an eye disease. Either way, it’s a reason to visit your eye care provider for an evaluation.

Your eyes may be a small organ of your body, but they play a huge role in your quality of life. Eyes are also extremely delicate and sensitive, which is why it’s advised to do your utmost to prevent vision loss by contacting an eye clinic near you at the first sign of a problem, even if it’s not yet time for your yearly comprehensive eye exam.

Book an eye exam at an eye clinic near you to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you.

Cove Eyecare, your Copperas Cove eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

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What happens after diagnosis of macular degeneration?

If our eye doctors detect your eye disease when it first begins, many preventive measures can be taken to treat AMD so that your vision remains as healthy as possible. That’s why routine eye exams are so critical! During your eye exam at Cove Eyecare, we’ll evaluate your ocular health thoroughly to look for any signs of macular degeneration. If we detect any problems, we’ll recommend appropriate treatment immediately.

When is cataract surgery recommended?

During the early stages of a cataract, the visual symptoms may be so mild that you aren’t bothered. Your doctor will just perform regular eye exams to monitor your condition. However, as the cataract progresses, the effects on your vision usually become more disruptive – to the point that many regular daily tasks become difficult. That’s when your eye doctor may recommend cataract surgery. If a cataract gets in the way of treating another eye problem, such as diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration, cataract surgery may also be advised.

What is pink eye?

Officially called conjunctivitis, pink eye is caused by swelling in your eye. The conjunctiva – which is the thin and transparent tissue that lines your inner eyelids and coats the whites of your eyes – becomes inflamed. This eye infection is highly contagious, especially in kids, and it spreads quickly through schools. The good news is that pink eye is rarely serious and doesn’t usually cause any lasting damage to your vision.

Who is the Ideal LASIK Candidate?

If our eye doctors detect your eye disease when it first begins, many preventive measures can be taken to treat AMD so that your vision remains as healthy as possible. That’s why routine eye exams are so critical! During your eye exam at Cove Eyecare, we’ll evaluate your ocular health thoroughly to look for any signs of macular degeneration. If we detect any problems, we’ll recommend appropriate treatment immediately.

6 Common Myths About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which increased pressure causes progressive, permanent vision loss and even blindness. Unfortunately, many misconceptions about the disease can leave you misinformed. Below we sort fact from fiction by debunking 6 of the most common glaucoma myths.

Glaucoma Facts vs. Myths

MYTH 1: Glaucoma is a single disease

FACT

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases; the most common ones are open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).

In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage structure in your eye (called the trabecular meshwork) doesn’t allow the fluid inside the eye to flow out as it should, causing an increase in internal ocular pressure that damages the optic nerve. OAG develops slowly, and usually by the time people perceive symptoms, such as peripheral vision loss, they already have optic nerve damage.

In angle-closure glaucoma, the eye doesn’t drain fluid as it should because the drainage channel between your iris and cornea becomes too narrow, causing increased eye pressure. This pressure damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. ACG can occur suddenly or gradually.

MYTH 2: Only the elderly suffer from glaucoma

FACT

Although it’s true that people over 60 are at a greater risk of developing open-angle glaucoma compared to people in their 40s, there are other types of glaucoma that can affect people aged 20 to 50 and even young infants (due to abnormal ocular development).

In addition to age, those with a higher risk of developing glaucoma include:

  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • Individuals with a family history of glaucoma
  • Patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia
  • Those who have previously sustained an eye injury
  • People taking steroid medications over the long term

MYTH 3: Glaucoma shows symptoms early on

FACT

The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, shows virtually no signs or symptoms until its later stages when vision loss sets in. Despite what people may think, the increased eye pressure causes no pain. And since peripheral vision is the first to go, you may not recognize vision loss until your vision has become significantly impaired. The only way to detect glaucoma is to undergo a comprehensive eye exam.

MYTH 4: Nothing can be done once you have glaucoma

FACT

While there’s currently no cure for glaucoma, many effective treatment options exist: eye drops, oral medications, as well as laser and surgical procedures that can help slow glaucoma progression. Each treatment option is used to get the fluid to flow properly out of the eye, reducing pressure inside the eye and decreasing damage to the optic nerve.

MYTH 5: Testing for glaucoma is painful

FACT

Actually, testing for glaucoma is practically painless. One of the tests includes a non-contact device that blows a gentle puff of air into each eye to test the intraocular pressure. The sound of the puff may be startling, but it’s over in a second and is painless. With the Goldmann applanation tonometry test, an anesthetic eye drop is inserted into each eye, which may cause a stinging sensation for a few seconds. Your eye doctor will then use a blue light to quickly and gently touch the cornea to precisely measure intraocular pressure. The most accurate of all, however, are visual field testing and OCT (optical coherence tomography), non-invasive imaging, both of which are also painless.

MYTH 6: You can’t prevent glaucoma

FACT

Regular eye exams are the only way to prevent glaucoma, as blindness or significant vision loss can be prevented if the disease is diagnosed and treated in the early stages. That’s why routine comprehensive eye exams which include glaucoma testing are so important.

Getting your eyes checked regularly can ensure that any existing eye problems are detected early enough to prevent or slow ocular damage. Contact Cove Eyecare in Copperas Cove to book your comprehensive eye exam today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. M. D. Young, OD

Q: If one of my parents has glaucoma, does that mean I will develop it as well at some point?

  • A: Having a parent with glaucoma does not mean that the child will automatically develop the condition too. However, those people with an immediate family history (parents, siblings) of glaucoma are at more risk to develop this disease. Patients should have a comprehensive eye examination each year to evaluate the health of the eyes and to look for signs of glaucoma. Some of these signs can be an increase in the pressure of the eyes as well as changes to the appearance of the optic nerve. Many times there are no symptoms noticed by the patient. If there is suspicion of glaucoma, more frequent visits to the eye doctor along with additional nerve testing are often required.

Q: Why do I need to scan my retinas/back of the eye?

  • A: The retina shows us a lot about the overall ocular health as well as systemic conditions that can affect the eyes. Often diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol can be observed from a retinal scan. Also, retinal scans allow us to diagnose and treat macular degeneration and glaucoma. Scans are often very important for a complete eye check up.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Copperas Cove, Texas. Visit Cove Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.