What does high blood pressure and diabetes have in common when it comes to your eyes? Your eye health professional may be the first person to detect them… That is, if you are keeping current on your eye examinations.
An eye exam is very important, and not just because your eye doctor is checking to see if you need glasses or if your prescription is current. (Though, those are also important!) These exams also check the health of your eyes, and can even determine if you have any certain diseases, such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
What are these diseases? Let’s explore them further.Roblox Robux Hack 2017
Glaucoma: This isn’t a specific disease, but a group of diseases that cause damage to your eye’s optic nerve and can lead to vision loss, and even blindness. It’s caused by a buildup of fluid in your eye, known as the aqueous humor. This fluid normally leaves your eye between your cornea and iris, but sometimes blockages can happen. When they do, the pressure builds up and that leads to optic nerve damage.
There are two types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
With primary open-angle glaucoma, you may not realize you have it until it is in its advanced stages. The only symptom is your vision gradually getting worse, or, in advanced stages, you have tunnel vision. This makes regular eye exams crucial, as your eye doctor can do various tests to see if you have symptoms and signs of primary-open glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, some oral medications and surgery.
Angle-close glaucoma is a medical emergency. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Angle-closure glaucoma, also called closed-angle glaucoma, occurs when the iris bulges forward to narrow or block the drainage angle formed by the cornea and the iris. As a result, fluid can’t adequately flow through and exit your eye, and your eye pressure may increase abruptly.”
Symptoms of it include:
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting (accompanying the severe eye pain)
- Sudden onset of visual disturbance, often in low light
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Reddening of the eye
Source: Mayo Clinic
If you have any of these symptoms, get to your health professional immediately. You need to immediately relieve the pressure in your eyes.
By Crdit to: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One way to determine if you have an eye disease like glaucoma is to use an amsler grid test. In this test, you cover one eye and look at a dark point in a grid. If you any of the horizontal or vertical lines around the dot that aren’t straight, or even are missing (or distorted, like in this example), that can be a sign of a serious problem.
Diabetic Eye Diseases: If you don’t know you have diabetes, your eye doctor might be the first person to figure it out in an exam. Diabetes can also lead to vision loss and blindness, but, like glaucoma (which can be a type of diabetic eye disease), you might not even realize you have it until it’s too late.
One of the most common diabetic eye diseases is diabetic retinopathy. This disease changes the blood vessels on your retina. According to the National Eye Institute, “In some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.” All this can eventually lead to vision loss.
When your eye doctor looks for signs of the disease, he or she will be looking for:
- Leaking blood vessels.
- Retinal swelling (macular edema).
- Pale, fatty deposits on the retina–signs of leaking blood vessels.
- Damaged nerve tissue.
- Any changes to the blood vessels.
Source: National Eye Institute
The best way to determine if you have this disease? Routine eye exams.
Cataracts: You might develop cataracts when you grow older. Cataracts are a clouding of the lenses, which are made up of water and a protein that is arranged in a very specific way to help you see. When that protein stops working, your lenses cloud over, resulting in vision loss.
Cataracts can be caused by a number of things: normal wear and tear as you age, smoking, diabetes, glaucoma and much more. Symptoms include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision.
- Colors seem faded.
- Glare: Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
- Poor night vision.
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Source: National Eye Institute
Regular eye exams are especially important for cataracts, because the symptoms above can be signs of other eye problems. Only your eye doctor can really determine if you are starting to develop cataracts.
You can treat cataracts with corrective lenses or even surgery.
Age-related Macular Degeneration: This is another disease that can cause eye loss. Like other eye diseases, you might not notice it until it’s too late, the only symptom being gradual vision loss. Macular degeneration affects the macula, the part of our eye that helps us see objects straight ahead of us. According to the National Eye Institute, “The macula is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that provide sharp, central vision. It is the most sensitive part of the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. The retina turns light into electrical signals and then sends these electrical signals through the optic nerve to the brain, where they are translated into the images we see. When the macula is damaged, the center of your field of view may appear blurry, distorted, or dark.”
Macular degeneration can be caused by smoking, or lie in your family history, even your genes! There’s no way to determine who will develop age-related macular degeneration, but doctors recommend a healthy diet, to avoid smoking and, most importantly, have routine eye exams.
Age-related macular degeneration isn’t the easiest to treat once it gets into the advanced stages. There is no real cure. Doctors will recommend a healthy diet, supplements, injections and surgery.
How Often Should I Have My Eye Exam?
So now that you know all the diseases that can affect the eyes, how often should you get your eyes checked? The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) has a list of recommendations based on your age:
- Up to 24 months old: Exam at 6 months of age
- 2 to 5 years of age: Exam at 3 years of age
- 6 to 18 years: Before first grade, and the every two years
- 18 to 60 years old: Exam every two years
- 61 years and older: Exam annually, or as recommended
The AOA also says you should have more frequent eye exams if you are an “at risk” patient. An “at risk” patient is someone who might:
- Have diabetes
- Have a family history of eye diseases, such as glaucoma
- Work in places that are make a lot of demands on your eyes, or put your eyes at risk.
- Take prescription drugs that have side effects that affect your eyes.
- Wear contact lenses
- Have had eye surgery
- Have other health conditions
If you are an “at risk” person, you should have more eye exams. Talk to your eye doctor, about how frequently you should be coming in.
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