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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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Fireworks Safety

American Academy of Ophthalmology Offers Tips for Fireworks Safety

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Each Fourth of July, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries happen each year. Of these, nearly half are head-related injuries with nearly 30 percent of these injuries to the eyes. One-fourth of fireworks eye injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

July is Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month, and through its EyeSmart™ campaign the American Academy of Ophthalmology wants to remind consumers to leave fireworks to professionals. “Too many Fourth of July celebrations are ruined because a child has to be rushed to the emergency room after a fireworks accident,” said Marguerite McDonald, MD, a clinical correspondent for the Academy. “Potentially blinding injuries can be avoided if families attend a professional public fireworks display instead of putting on a home fireworks display.”

Children are the most common victims of firework accidents, with those fifteen years old or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States. For children under the age of five, seemingly innocent sparklers account for one-third of all fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.

Eye Protection is Essential for All Athletes

American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends sport-specific eyewear to prevent devastating injuries

 

For Stephen Sacks, what started out as a routine basketball game his senior year of high school turned into a medical emergency. Stephen was a young basketball star who played years of hoops without any injuries. But when he was accidentally elbowed in the eye by a teammate, Stephen ended up with a large laceration on his left eyelid and a close encounter with permanent eye damage

“After the knock to my eye, all I could see was a black haze,” Stephen recalls. “I was rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the game, where I was told that I might have permanent damage to my left eye.” Fortunately Stephan regained his vision three weeks later, but had to miss his last senior game because of the eye injury. He went on to play college basketball and has vowed to always wear protective eyewear while playing.

April is Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month, and through its EyeSmart™ campaign the American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds the public that 40,000 people suffer from eye injuries related to sports every year. The Academy advocates the need for athletes to wear appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear properly fitted by an eye care professional. Lenses made from polycarbonate materials provide the highest level of impact protection; they can withstand a ball or other projectile traveling at 90 miles per hour.

Keeping an Eye on Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Early detection, careful monitoring, and prompt treatment are crucial to saving sight

 

SAN FRANCISCO— Marilyn Gozdon can tell you from personal experience why it’s crucial to know your risks for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Marilyn lost most of the vision in her left eye to “wet” AMD five years ago, before new medications revolutionized treatment of this form of the disease. Today Marilyn is fiercely committed to working with her Eye MD (ophthalmologist) to maintain the 20/40 vision she still enjoys in her “good” right eye.

Age-related macular degenerationis a main cause of vision loss in the United States. Advanced AMD destroys the detailed, central vision we need to recognize faces, read, drive, and enjoy daily life. March is AMD Awareness Month, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology together with the American Society of Retina Specialists, the Macula Society, and The Retina Society, encourage Americans to know their risks for AMD.

“When we catch AMD early, patients can make lifestyle changes that may slow disease progress, or we can start treatment, if needed,” says Mark S. Hughes, MD, a retinal specialist with Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston and a clinical correspondent for the Academy. “Even someone with 20/20 vision can suffer rapid vision loss from undetected AMD.  People need to know their risks so that they can save their sight.”

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