A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye. The lens, made mostly of proteins and water, can become so clouded it keeps images from getting through the lens to your retina. What causes cataracts? Eye injuries, certain diseases, and in some cases even the kind of medication you may be taking. Cataracts can not be helped by laser, diet, or lifestyle changes. Fortunately, cataract surgery is one of the safest procedures available today, and one of the most successful. It is an outpatient procedure that is essentially painless. At Kokopelli Eye Institute, our cataract specialist is ready to help you focus on better vision today and far into the future.
One of the leading causes of blindness, glaucoma affects millions of people worldwide. Vision loss may be permanent or irreversible before most people are even aware they have glaucoma. That is precisely why everyone over the age of forty should have a routine glaucoma test. Kokopelli Eye Institute offers a dedicated glaucoma specialist who can detect glaucoma early, before it can do harm. Our glaucoma test can detect higher than acceptable pressure on the optic nerve, which can impair vision over time. Our specialist will determine risk factors, checking the inter-ocular pressure, and the vision itself. There is no cure for glaucoma, but it can be controlled. Treatment may include eye drops, laser, and surgery.
The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when the arteries that nourish the retina harden. Deprived of nutrients, the retinal tissues begin to weaken and die, causing vision loss. Patients may experience anything from a blurry, gray or distorted area to a blind spot in the center of vision.
AMD is the number-one cause of vision loss in the U.S. Macular degeneration doesn't cause total blindness because it doesn't affect the peripheral vision. Possible risk factors include genetics, age, diet, smoking and sunlight exposure. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.
Dry eye occurs when the eyes are not sufficiently moisturized, leading to itching, redness and pain. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts do not produce enough tears, or because the tears themselves have a chemical imbalance.
People usually begin experiencing dry eye symptoms as they age, but the condition can also result from certain medications, conditions or injuries.
Dry eye is not only painful, it can also damage the eye's tissues and impair vision. Fortunately, many treatment options are available.
Non-surgical treatments for dry eye include blinking exercises, increasing humidity at home or work, and use of artificial tears or moisturizing ointment. If these methods fail, small punctal plugs may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage, or the drainage tubes in the eyes may be surgically closed.
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Flashes and Floaters
Although most flashes and floaters occur in people with healthy or merely nearsighted eyes, they can be symptoms of serious problems including injury and retinal and posterior vitreous detachments. Flashes in vision are caused by pressure on the retina, the bundle of nerves in the back of the eye where images are detected and transmitted to the brain. Floaters are often seen when fibers move within the vitreous humor, the gelatinous substance made of water and protein fibers that fills the eye. Serious vision loss can occur if the retina or vitreous detach from the eye wall. Patients experiencing flashes and floaters should contact their doctor immediately so an examination can be performed.
Diabetic Eye Care
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease in persons with diabetes. Caused by changes in the retina's blood vessels, it is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell & leak fluid, while in others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina's surface. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness. Although a diabetic retinopathy cannot be prevented, the risk of developing it can be reduced by having a dilated eye examination once a year, and strictly managing diabetes. Treatment for diabetic retinopathy may include laser surgery and vitrectomy. Vitrectomies are particularly effective in persons with insulin-dependent diabetes, who may be at a greater risk of blindness due to a eye hemorrhage.
Ptosis is a condition in which the eyelid droops. It is caused by a weakness or separation of muscles deep within the eyelid. Ptosis does not involve excess skin or tissue in the eyelid (a condition called dermatochalasis). It is usually a result of aging, but some people develop ptosis after eye surgery or an injury, and some children are born with the condition. A brief surgical procedure can eliminate the drooping. Many young patients with mild to moderate ptosis do not need surgery early in life. Patients who are also suffering from excess skin may choose to undergo blepharoplasty at the same time as ptosis repair. Children with ptosis should be examined regularly to check for other vision problems including amblyopia ("lazy eye"), refractive errors and muscular diseases.
A pterygium is a raised growth in the surface of the eye (the conjunctiva) made mostly of collagen and tiny red capillaries. They are usually caused by extended exposure to sunlight. They may remain stable after appearing, or they may grow and affect vision.
Treatments include eye drops for irritation and redness, protection from sunlight and dust to prevent the pterygium from worsening, and occasionally steroids to lessen inflammation.
If the pterygium grows into the central cornea, surgical removal is recommended. This prevents the pterygium from altering the cornea's shape and affecting vision.