Eye Disease News:
Contact Lens Corrects Near- and Far-Sightedness:
Surgically implanted under the top surface of the cornea, the lens
provides permanent correction of vision problems involving refractive
Eye Disease News:
One Person in Four Has Even Heard of Ocular Hypertension:
A survey finds that only 27 percent of Americans say they have heard
of this condition without symptoms that can lead to glaucoma.
Drops Can Help Delay Onset of Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma:
Researchers say eye drops used to lower elevated pressure inside
the eye are also effective in delaying the onset of primary open-angle
glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness.
Help You Assess If You Are a Candidate for LASIK Eye Surgery:
Patients considering LASIK eye surgery now have an easy way to assess
whether they are an good candidate for the procedure.
Cataract Treatment May Free Patients of Need for Glasses:
A new procedure for the treatment of cataracts may
allow patients to go without the prescription glasses often needed
after the procedure.
May Provide Early Warning on Stroke: Researchers
found that people with impaired mental function were about three
times more likely to have abnormalities in the retinal vessels,
which are called arterioles.
Surgical Technique May Offer Alternative for Treating Glaucoma:
Israeli researchers say the new, less invasive technique,
called enzymatic sclerostomy, uses an enzyme that can be selectively
activated on the eye to increase the release of fluid from within
E With Other Supplements Lowers Risk of Macular Degeneration: A
Mayo Clinic study says the antioxidant, combined with other vitamins
and minerals, may lower the risk of macular degeneration by 25 percent.
Acetate May Preserve Vision in Some With Macular Degeneration: Preliminary
results from a Phase II clinical trial show that the drug preserves
or improves vision in patients with the wet form of age-related
Lowers Intra-Ocular Pressure in Patients With Open-Angle Glaucoma:
Researchers say Xalatan is the only prostaglandin
analogue used in the treatment of open-angle glaucoma with five-year
effectiveness and safety data.
Rays From Summer Sun Can Cause Extensive Eye Damage: Experts
recommend sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection to protect against
cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal burns, and eye cancer.
Reported More Effective in Treating Glaucoma: Lantanoprost
is more effective than brimonidine in reducing diurnal intraocular
pressure in patients with glaucoma, according to European researchers.
Leading Cause of Visual Impairment in U.S. Hispanics: Researchers
report the incidence of blindness in U.S. Hispanics is now 0.3 percent,
a figure considered high for developed countries.
Women With Cataracts (But Not Men) Have Higher Mortality Rate: Researchers
say they have a higher risk of death from cardiovascular, respiratory
and other diseases, but not cancer.
Won't Cover Only Effective Treatment for AMD With Occult Lesions:
Health and Human Services denied
national coverage of ocular photodynamic therapy (OPT) with verteporfin
Drivers With Cataracts Seen at Much Higher Risk of Auto Accidents:
drivers with cataracts, even only in one eye, are at increased risk
of having a car accident, according to researchers.
Implanted in Blind May Someday Help Macular Degeneration: Researchers
in Illinois have implanted microchips in the eyes of three blind
men in a trial that someday may provide help for the 10 million
Americans who suffer from macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
Replacement Therapy Appears to Reduce Risk of Cataracts: Researchers
report that women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after
menopause appear to reduce their risks of cataracts.
the age of 60 are at higher risk of three eye diseases: Age-related
macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.
macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease associated with
aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Central vision
is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks
such as reading and driving. In some people, AMD advances so slowly
that it will have little effect on their vision as they age. But
in others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss
of vision in one or both eyes.
The retina is
a paper-thin tissue that lines the back of the eye and sends visual
signals to the brain. In the middle of the retina is a tiny area
called the macula. The macula is made up of millions of light-sensing
cells that help to produce central vision. AMD occurs in two forms:
- Dry AMD--Ninety
percent of all people with AMD have this type. Scientists are
still not sure what causes dry AMD. Studies suggest that an area
of the retina becomes diseased, leading to the slow breakdown
of the light-sensing cells in the macula and a gradual loss of
- Wet AMD--Although
only 10 percent of all people with AMD have this type, it accounts
for 90 percent of all blindness from the disease. As dry AMD worsens,
new blood vessels may begin to grow and cause "wet" AMD. Because
these new blood vessels tend to be very fragile, they will often
leak blood and fluid under the macula. This causes rapid damage
to the macula that can lead to the loss of central vision in a
short period of time.
risk factor is age. Although AMD may occur during middle age, studies
show that people over age 60 are clearly at greater risk than other
age groups. For instance, a large study found that people in middle-age
have about a 2 percent risk of getting AMD, but this risk increased
to nearly 30 percent in those over age 75. Other AMD risk factors
tend to be at greater risk for AMD than men.
are much more likely to lose vision from AMD than Blacks.
may increase the risk of AMD.
- Family History--Those
with immediate family members who have AMD are at a higher risk
of developing the disease.
Both dry and
wet AMD cause no pain. The most common early sign of dry AMD is
blurred vision. As fewer cells in the macula are able to function,
people will see details less clearly in front of them, such as faces
or words in a book. Often this blurred vision will go away in brighter
If the loss
of these light--sensing cells becomes great, people may see a small--but
growing-blind spot in the middle of their field of vision. The classic
early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear crooked.
This results when fluid from the leaking blood vessels gathers and
lifts the macula, distorting vision. A small blind spot may also
appear in wet AMD, resulting in loss of one's central vision.
Your eye care
professional may suspect AMD if you are over age 60 and have had
recent changes in your central vision.
now exists for dry AMD. It has been suggested that taking certain
extra vitamins and minerals may slow the progress of the disease.
But this treatment needs much more research before scientists can
know for sure if it's helpful. Eye care professionals can treat
some cases of wet AMD with laser surgery. This treatment involves
aiming a strong light beam onto the new blood vessels to destroy
them. Laser surgery is done in a doctor's office or in an eye clinic
and lasts a short period of time. Although a person may go home
the same day, he or she will need to return for follow-up exams.
is no effective treatment for dry AMD at this time, it is crucial
that those who progress to wet AMD and need laser surgery have it
before the disease destroys central vision. For this reason, if
you have dry AMD or are age 60 or older, you should have your eyes
examined through dilated pupils at least once a year.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens that causes
loss of vision. The lens lies behind the iris and the pupil. It works
much like a camera lens. It focuses light onto the retina at the back
of the eye, where an image is recorded. The lens also adjusts the
eye's focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away.
The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged
in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through
But as we age,
some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small
area of the lens. This is a cataract. Over time, the cataract may
grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.
suspect that there are several causes of cataract, such as smoking
and diabetes. Or, it may be that the protein in the lens just changes
from the wear and tear it takes over the years.
You don't have
to be a senior citizen to get this type of cataract. In fact, people
can have an age-related cataract in their 40s and 50s. But during
middle age, most cataracts are small and do not affect vision. It
is after age 60 that most cataracts steal vision.
starts out small. It has little effect on vision at first. You may
notice that your vision is blurred a little, like looking through
a cloudy piece of glass. A cataract may make light from the sun
or a lamp seem too bright, causing a glare. Or, you may notice when
you drive at night that the oncoming headlights cause more glare
than before. Also, colors may not appear as bright to you as they
As the cataract
gets bigger and clouds more of the lens (doctors use the term, "ripens"),
you will find it harder to read and do other normal tasks. The word
"cataract" means waterfall. For people with a ripe cataract, it
is like trying to see through a waterfall.
might think you have a cataract, the only way to know for sure is
by having an eye examination. Should your eye care professional
find one, he or she can monitor it and advise you about any future
If your eye
care professional finds a cataract, you may not need cataract surgery
for several years. In fact, you might never need cataract surgery.
By having your vision tested regularly, you and your eye care professional
can discuss if and when you might need treatment.
is very successful in restoring vision. In fact, it is one of the
most common surgeries performed in the United States, with over
1.5 million cataract surgeries done each year. Your eye care professional
will remove your clouded lens and, in most cases, replace it with
a clear, plastic lens.
Eye Institute (NEI), one of the Federal government's National Institutes
of Health, supports research on the lens and age-related cataract.
Most of these studies focus on controlling cataract with drugs so
that surgery will not be needed. Although these drugs are not yet
available to patients, research is moving forward in this area.
The NEI is also evaluating whether certain vitamins and minerals
might prevent or slow the progress of cataract. We should know more
about whether this treatment works in the coming years.
If you are over
age 60, you should have an eye examination at least once every two
years. This exam should include dilating your pupils. This means
drops are put into your eyes to enlarge your pupils. Although a
cataract can be detected without dilated pupils, your eye care professional
can see the back of your eye better using this exam.
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the normal fluid pressure inside
the eyes slowly rises, leading to vision loss--or even blindness.
At the front of the eye, there is a small space called the anterior
chamber. Clear fluid flows in and out of the chamber to bathe and
nourish nearby tissues. In glaucoma, for still unknown reasons, the
fluid drains too slowly out of the eye. As the fluid builds up, the
pressure inside the eye rises. Unless this pressure is controlled,
it may cause damage to the optic nerve and other parts of the eye
and loss of vision.
Nearly 3 million
people have glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the United
States. Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people are at higher
risk. They include:
- Blacks over
over age 60.
- People with
a family history of glaucoma.
At first, there
are no symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain. However,
as the disease progresses, a person with glaucoma may notice his
or her side vision gradually failing. That is, objects in front
may still be seen clearly, but objects to the side may be missed.
As the disease worsens, the field of vision narrows and blindness
may know of the "air puff" test or other tests used to measure eye
pressure in an eye examination. But, this test alone cannot detect
glaucoma. Glaucoma is found most often during an eye examination
through dilated pupils. This means drops are put into the eyes during
the exam to enlarge the pupils. This allows the eye care professional
to see more of the inside of the eye to check for signs of glaucoma.
glaucoma cannot be cured, it can usually be controlled. The most
common treatments are:
These may be either in the form of eye drops or pills. Some drugs
are designed to reduce pressure by slowing the flow of fluid into
the eye. Others help to improve fluid drainage. For most people
with glaucoma, regular use of medications will control the increased
fluid pressure. But, these drugs may stop working over time. Or,
they may cause side effects. If a problem occurs, the eye care
professional may select other drugs, change the dose, or suggest
other ways to deal with the problem.
- Laser surgery:
During laser surgery, a strong beam of light is focused on the
part of the anterior chamber where the fluid leaves the eye. This
results in a series of small changes, which makes it easier for
fluid to exit the eye. Over time, the effect of laser surgery
may wear off. Patients who have this form of surgery may need
to keep taking glaucoma drugs.
Surgery can also help fluid escape from the eye and thereby reduce
the pressure. However, surgery is usually reserved for patients
whose pressure cannot be controlled with eye drops, pills, or
shown that the early detection and treatment of glaucoma, before
it causes major vision loss, is the best way to control the disease.
So, if you fall into one of the high-risk groups for the disease,
make sure to have your eyes examined through dilated pupils every
two years by an eye care professional.
information provided by: The National Eye Institute, National Institutes
of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892