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Keep an Eye on UV Safety

American Academy of Ophthalmology offers tips for safe fun in the sun

 

SAN FRANCISCO – As you rub sunscreen on to protect your skin this summer, don’t forget to protect your eyes as well. Summertime means more time spent outdoors, and studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and growths on the eye, including cancer. 

June is UV (ultraviolet light) Safety Awareness Month, and through its EyeSmart™ campaign the American Academy of Ophthalmology wants to remind Americans of the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing proper protection. It also wants to remind the public of the importance of protecting eyes from indoor UV light when using tanning beds.

  • Written by The American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Category: Eyes and Vision
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Glaucoma - a Closer Look

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve—the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers, like an electric cable containing numerous wires. When damage to the optic nerve fibers occurs, blind spots develop. These blind spots usually go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results.

Early detection and treatment by your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, especially for older people. But loss of sight from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment.

What causes glaucoma?

Clear liquid called aqueous humor circulates inside the front portion of the eye. To maintain a healthy level of pressure within the eye, a small amount of this fluid is produced constantly while an equal amount flows out of the eye through a microscopic drainage system. (This liquid is not part of the tears on the outer surface of the eye.)

Because the eye is a closed structure, if the drainage area for the aqueous humor—called the drainage angle—is blocked, the excess fluid cannot flow out of the eye. Fluid pressure within the eye increases, pushing against the optic nerve and causing damage.

  • Written by the American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Category: Eyes and Vision
  • Hits: 667

Macular Degeneration - a Closer Look

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula. The macula is a small area in the retina at the back of the eye that allows you to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading and driving. When the macula does not function correctly, your central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas or distortion. Macular degeneration affects your ability to see near and far, and can make some activities—like threading a needle or reading—difficult or impossible.

Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it usually does not affect the eye’s side, or peripheral, vision. For example, you could see the outline of a clock but not be able to tell what time it is. Macular degeneration alone does not reult in total blindness. Even in more advanced cases, people continue to have some useful vision and are often able to take care of themselves. In many cases, macular degeneration’s impact on your vision can be minimal.

What causes macular degeneration?

Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process.There are different kinds of macular problems, but the most common is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Exactly why it develops is not known, and no treatment has been uniformly effective. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in Caucasians over 65.

  • Written by the American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Category: Eyes and Vision
  • Hits: 625

Diabetic Retinopathy - a Closer Look

Diabetes can affect sight

If you have diabetes mellitus, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood-sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain. The damage to retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.

Types of diabetic retinopathy

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).

NPDR, commonly known as background retinopathy, is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. In this stage, tiny blood vessels within the retina leak blood or fluid. The leaking fluid causes the retina to swell or to form deposits called exudates.

Many people with diabetes have mild NPDR, which usually does not affect their vision. When vision is affected it is the result of macular edema (pronounced eh-DEEM-uh) and/or macular ischemia (pronounced ih-SKEE-mee-uh).

  • Written by the American Academy of Ophthalmology 
  • Category: Eyes and Vision
  • Hits: 644

Dry Eye - A Closer Look

What is dry eye?

Normally, the eye constantly bathes itself in tears. By producing tears at a slow and steady rate, the eye stays moist and comfortable. Sometimes people do not produce enough tears or the appropriate quality of tears to keep their eyes healthy and comfortable. This condition is known as dry eye.


The eye uses two different methods to produce tears. It can make tears at a slow, steady rate to maintain normal eye lubrication. It can also produce large quantities of tears in response to eye irritation or emotion. When a foreign body or dryness irritates the eye, or when a person cries, excessive tearing occurs.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?

• The usual symptoms include:
• stinging or burning eyes;
• scratchiness;
• stringy mucus in or around the eyes;
• excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind;
• excess tearing;
• discomfort when wearing contact lenses.

Excess tearing from “dry eye” may sound illogical, but it can be understood as the eye’s response to discomfort. If the tears responsible for maintaining lubrication do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated. Eye irritation prompts the gland that makes tears (called the lacrimal gland) to release a large volume of tears, overwhelming the tear drainage system. These excess tears then overflow from your eye.

  • Written by the American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Category: Eyes and Vision
  • Hits: 888

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