Eye diseases frequently develop without exhibiting any obvious symptoms such as pain or vision loss until the disease enters the advanced stages. That is one of the many reasons it is important to see your optometrist annually. Using advanced diagnostic technology our experienced optometrists are able to detect, diagnose and treat eye diseases before they begin to cause severe vision problems.
If you are experiencing changes in your vision, or have an eye injury, contact your eye care professional immediately.
Cataracts occur when the lenses inside your eyes become cloudy. As a cataract develops it begins to obscure the light causing blurry or dim vision.
There are treatments available for cataracts. During the initial stages your optometrist may suggest you use glasses, magnifiers or other visual aids. Once the cataracts have progressed to the point where they begin to impact your vision and daily life, you may want to consider cataract surgery. During the surgery an ophthalmologist will remove the clouded lens and replace it with a clear plastic intraocular lens (IOL).
Glaucoma is an eye disease that usually results from high internal or intraocular pressure in your eye. The buildup of pressure in the eye can damage your optic nerve, disrupting the transmission of visual information.
In the early stages, glaucoma causes a loss of peripheral vision. If the disease progresses untreated, it causes more damage and you may lose some central vision as well, becoming blind.
Most patients with glaucoma don’t even realize they have it since it is so slow and painless. Vision loss is a product of permanent nerve damage and is irreversible. That is why an annual eye exam at Vaughan Family Vision Care includes an evaluation for glaucoma.
Glaucoma can be treated. Initially your optometrist may prescribe eye drops to lower the pressure in your eye. If your glaucoma is more severe your doctor may recommend lasers and/or surgery to treat your glaucoma.
Race, ocular and medical history, and your overall health can all affect your risk for glaucoma.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is most commonly found amongst patients who are 65 or older and affects millions of people in North America. AMD occurs when the macula in the eye begins to deteriorate, causing central vision loss, distorted vision and blind spots. AMD can be diagnosed with a dilated eye exam.
There are two types of AMD: Dry and wet.
Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common form of AMD, accounting for nearly 90% of all AMD cases. Generally, AMD starts out dry, and most cases do not progress beyond this point. Most patients with very early stage dry AMD will have small changes to their macula called drusen and will be asymptomatic, not even knowing they have the disease unless they visit their optometrist or the disease progresses.
If dry AMD progresses geographic atrophy may develop, creating blind spots in the central vision.
Neovascular, or Wet, Macular Degeneration is much less common than dry AMD, but still affects about 10% of all AMD sufferers. This advanced form of AMD occurs when the eye creates new, abnormal blood vessels near the macula. These new vessels are unstable, and often leak blood and other fluids, causing the macula to swell. Wet AMD results in severe vision loss.
Though your family history plays a role in the likelihood of you developing AMD there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. According to the National Eye Institute eating lots of leafy green vegetables and fish may help lower the chances of an individual developing AMD.
Smoking can double your chances of developing AMD, so you should avoid tobacco products. If you are at risk for AMD you should exercise regularly as well as maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Though there are currently no FDA-approved treatments available for dry AMD the National Eye Institute recommends that patients ensure they are consuming high quantities of beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. These vitamins, and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV light, are steps you can take to slow the progression of the disease. Talk to your optometrist about which ocular vitamins are right for you.
For individuals with wet AMD the most common treatment option available is Anti-VEGF injection therapy. Patients may be prescribed monthly injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, which stops new blood vessels from growing in your eyes.
Diabetes affects many different parts of the body, including your eyes. Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema are eye disorders that are related to diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy causes blood vessels to leak, releasing fluid and blood into the eyes. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, almost 25% of individuals with type one diabetes develop diabetic retinopathy, and approximately 14% of individuals with type two diabetes will develop the condition as well.
If diabetic retinopathy goes untreated, diabetic macular edema can develop. As fluid continues to leak into the retina it can fill the macula, which is the central part of the retina. Your macula is what allows you to read text and recognize facial feature. If the macula swells your central vision will be distorted. If left untreated and allowed to progress it can lead to blindness.
The easiest way to prevent diabetic retinopathy, or at least keep the symptoms fairly mild, is to monitor and maintain your blood sugar levels closely, and undergo an annual diabetic eye exam.
The key to managing the symptoms, and limiting the damage, of diabetic retinopathy is early detection. That is why it is vital that individuals with diabetes visit their optometrist annually, even if they are not experiencing any vision problems.
According to the American Diabetes Association individuals with diabetes are 40% more likely to develop glaucoma and 60% more likely to develop cataracts than individuals without diabetes. These diseases progress slowly. Glaucoma can be treated using medicated eye drops in its early stages and surgery at later stages, while cataracts are treated with surgery.
Whether or not you have diabetes or vision problems, regular professional eye exams with an optometrist are an important part of staying healthy. In addition to the standard tests we offer during our comprehensive eye exams our diabetic eye exams include an extra level of care that allows us to more closely examine you for diabetes-related eye diseases.
North America is experiencing an epidemic of heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure), and both conditions are linked to other multiple health conditions. Long-term hypertension causes significant damage to the body’s circulatory system, harming organs. Like the rest of your blood vessels the blood vessels in your eyes are easily affected by high blood pressure. Hypertension can damage the walls of the blood vessels, causing them to thicken and harden. This condition is called arteriosclerosis and can result in blurred vision, disorientation and even vision loss.
The best way to prevent or manage hypertension-related eye problems is to manage hypertension itself. Hypertensive eye disorders are best monitored by both your optometrist or ophthalmologist and a cardiovascular physician.
Keeping your hypertension under control does more than keep your eyes healthy. Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol also lowers your chance of having a stroke, heart attack, aneurysm, heart failure and kidney disease.
To stop the progression of heart disease, and lower your blood pressure, you should eat a nutritious diet that is low in processed foods, sugar and saturated fats. You should also exercise regularly, and your physician may recommend you take blood pressure medications.
You should also avoid tobacco products since studies have shown that there is a link between smoking and hypertensive retinopathy.
Regular eye exams are one of the most effective tools for diagnosing the early stages of hypertension and heart disease. The recent advancements in digital retinal imaging mean that optometrists now have a completely unobstructed view of the eye’s blood vessels. Changes in the blood vessels can point to early signs of hypertension, sometimes before more severe symptoms are experienced.
To request an appointment for an eye exam, please contact us.
Located on Weston Road, Vaughan Family Vision Care proudly serves patients from all over Ontario. We would be pleased to meet you and your family.
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