There are many diseases which can affect your eyes and your vision. Fortunately most of them are rare. However, many do not have symptoms and can only be detected with a yearly comprehensive eye exam. During your yearly eye exam the health of your eyes will be thoroughly evaluated. Unfortunately vision loss can be permanent. The good news is that early diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases can be highly successful to disease control and critical to maintaining sight.
Early detection is key with Glaucoma. There are no symptoms in the early and many times late stages of glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease where high eye pressure slowly takes away your peripheral vision; the unsettling part is that it happens so slowly that you cannot detect this process. The high pressure is not felt and there is no blurriness to your vision until the very end stages of glaucoma at which point it is often too late
There are numerous risk factors that can increase your risk of glaucoma:
- Increased Eye Pressure
- Enlargement of Optic Cup (part of optic nerve)
- Thickness of your Central Cornea
- Long Term Steroid Use
- Family History of Glaucoma
- Medical Conditions- high/low blood pressure, hypothyroidism, heart disease, diabetes.
- Ethnic Background- African American, Asian Descent
- Previous Eye Injury
For details about how glaucoma works and other glaucoma information please visit National Eye Institute.
While it is true that as eye doctors we are sometimes the ones who detect and diagnose someone with diabetes, this is a more rare occurrence than it was years ago because most people get regular physicals and blood work. The eye is one of the first organs that diabetes can affect and this is why your primary care doctor or endocrinologist will insist that you get at least yearly eye exams. Diabetes affects the very small blood vessels in the body first and there is no place that has more small blood vessels than the retina located in the black of our eyes. Poor control of your blood sugar can lead to many changes in the eye including:
● Fluid leaking onto your retina
● Macular edema (fluid under the central part of your retina)
● Early development of cataracts
● Certain types of glaucoma
For a more thorough explanation of diabetes please visit National Eye Institute.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Many people do not consider dry eye an eye disease, but it is! In fact dry eye has become an epidemic. Affecting more and more people every day, this increased prevalence is due to many factors including:
● Increased computer work
● Medication usage
● Lack of sleep
● Chronic inflammatory conditions
● Hormonal changes
● Contact lens use and abuse
● Environmental Conditions
For more information please visit National Eye Institute.
Floaters and Flashes
Floaters are fairly common. If most people look close enough under the proper lighting they will likely see “something” floating in their field of vision. This can range from a small dark spot to a threadlike strand to something that looks like a cobweb. Most floating spots are nothing to be concerned with and are simply inconsistencies in the fluid (vitreous) within our eye. If, however, you see significant changes,
● Larger floaters
● More floaters than you have noticed before
● Sudden bright and repeated Flashes
● A veil or curtain in front of your vision
Consider the above an EMERGENCY and get it checked out that day! Many times these changes simply indicate a changing or new floater but sometimes these changes can indicate pulling on your retina which can lead to a hole, tear or even possibly a retinal detachment.
What can be done if you have a new floater and Dr. Wisniewski tells you that the retina has not been affected?
Be patient, most floaters will slowly fade into the background of your vision. Our brain knows these spots are not important to our vision and will learn to filter them out of our vision. This does not mean they should be ignored completely. Very likely if you have a new or large floater Dr. Wisniewski will ask to see you back in 4-6 weeks to re-evaluate the situation to ensure that it has stabilized. If in the meantime you see ANY changes, follow up with us immediately.
The following group of eye diseases are related to or worsened by sun exposure.
Dr. Wisniewski believes strongly in protecting eyes from the sun at all ages. Not only do sunglasses make your vision more comfortable but they will reduce the risk many eye diseases. Ask Dr. Wisniewski why it is even more important to protect your children’s eyes from the sun or click here to read more on our website. The damaging effects from the sun are cumulative throughout our lives, start protecting your eyes early but remember it is never too late to start!
One of the most common ocular conditions associated with UV exposure is cataract development. Our eyes have a crystalline lens made of proteins. These proteins can be altered or denatured by exposure to UVA or UVB radiation. It is well known that if we live long enough nearly everyone will eventually develop cataracts.
● Cloudy or blurry vision
● Rapid change to eyeglass prescription
● Poor night vision
● Glare and Halos
● Double vision
● Change in color perception
For more information please visit National Eye Institute.
Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
While age, family history and race play a significant role in risk of AMD, research suggests that AMD is linked to free radical damage. A significant source of free radical damage is sun related. Studies have shown that people with macular degeneration tend to have had greater UV exposure throughout their lives. Macular degeneration is a serious and sight threatening disease which normally affects the elderly population. Early detection, again, is key to help reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.
AMD is a frightening and complex eye disease that is affecting more and more people as the population ages. If you are at risk Dr. Wisniewski has undoubtedly spent time discussing the prognosis and treatment as well as preventative steps you can take to reduce your risk. Please read in more detail here and if you still have questions schedule a follow visit, call or use the contact form at the bottom of this page and we will do our best to address your concerns.
This is a very common condition, it appears as a raised nodule on the conjunctiva (white of eye) particularly in the area generally exposed while our eyes are open. These areas can become inflamed due to dryness, wind or sun exposure. Pingueculae are much more common in individuals who work and spend a lot of time outside or who grew up in a southern climate where UV exposure is greater. The greatest concern for most patients is cosmetic, however, it may cause difficulty with contact lens wear. Over time if these areas increase in size they can cause dry eye problems, persistent irritation and redness. Occasionally they will continue to grow and can become a Ptygerium (see below).
This is a more rare and more severe case of pinguecula where the raised nodule begins to grow onto the cornea. This can cause drastic shifts to the prescription with high amounts of astigmatism and can require surgical removal. These patients typically have symptoms of dry eyes, redness, burning, stinging and often a sandy gritty feeling. Luckily in this area of the country this is rarely seen.
This is why your parents always told you to never stare at the sun. The sun can cause a permanent burn to the macula in under 20 seconds. Thus any direct viewing of the sun needs to be avoided. Great care needs to be taken when viewing an eclipse as improper or insufficient protection can still cause permanent burns. Eclipse filters/glasses are available but make sure they are from a reputable supplier. You can also use a number 14 or darker welder’s glass which can be purchased from a welding supply store. If you are unsure, ask for professional advice.
More commonly called snow blindness, can occur due to prolonged exposure to intense sunlight usually from reflection off the snow, sand or water. You should come in immediately if you are feeling any discomfort after a long day at the beach, on the snow or near the water.
Other areas of concern:
Sebaceous Cell Carcinoma
A dangerous and highly aggressive form of skin cancer, more common with increased UV exposure.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
10x more common than any other form of skin cancer.
This type of cancer can be found on the conjunctiva (white of the eye), the iris or even the choroid (in the back of the eye). Just another good reason to have your eyes dilated! If you have been told that you have a freckle or nevus in your retina, this is why you need to reduce your sun exposure and protect your eyes with good sun glasses. UV exposure is also at least partially to blame for wrinkles to the skin around the eyes.