Anyone who has made the transition from glasses to contacts has visited an optometrist before. Optometrists are licensed physicians who specialize in people’s eyes and vision and are trained to fit their patients with contact lenses. While most people have probably visited an optometrist in order to get a prescription for lenses, these physicians are also trained to take care of various disorders of the eye and can prescribe medications to treat them. Many might have heard of the diseases below, but most don’t have a good understanding of what they are, how they start or how they can be treated.
Common Eye Disorders
- Cataracts – A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes clouded. The lens is a structure in the eye that directs light to the retina and helps the eye focus so that things appear clear up close and at a distance. The protein in the lens of the eye is arranged in a special way that keeps our vision clear. However, these proteins can bunch up as we get older, creating the cloudy effect of a cataract. Cataracts don’t typically form until a person is in their late 50s, but some people are born with them, and others form due to other diseases like diabetes. While they are not usually a major issue, cataract surgery is necessary in some cases.
- Glaucoma – Glaucoma is not one particular eye disease, but rather a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is often associated with pressure build up within the eye, and it can eventually lead to blindness. In fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately, the damage caused by glaucoma cannot be undone, but there are ways to reduce the chances of the disease early on. Getting regular eye check ups, eating healthy, wearing protective eyewear and seeking treatment for elevated eye pressure are all ways to lessen the chances of glaucoma.
- Macular Degeneration – Macular degeneration is a disease that causes the loss of vision in the center of the eye and is most commonly associated with aging. There are two forms of the disease: dry macular degeneration (more common) and wet macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is when the center of the retina, known as the macula, starts to break down. Wet macular degeneration can progress from the dry form of the disease and is marked by the growth and leaking of blood vessels under the retina. While there is no treatment for dry macular degeneration outside of a healthy diet, there are several drug remedies for wet macular degeneration.
Anyone who feels that they may be at risk for one of these eye diseases should find an optometrist to get advice on prevention and treatment. While they are not all curable, there are ways that people can slow down the progress of these diseases. More.